45 Minutes in Colombia via New Jersey

Los Musicos (Discipline Global Mobile/Moondo)
Juan Carlos Quintero

By David Lilly

As most people know, technology makes it possible to travel vicariously to other countries via recorded music, or at least to get a taste of cultures foreign to us. Well, here's another very good example of that - with a twist.

Juan Carlos Quintero is originally from Colombia, though his family settled in New Jersey during his childhood, and he loves playing the Latin rhythms of his homeland. Yet he grew up also loving to play the music of such rock 'n' roll legends as Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. On Los Musicos, his fourth release, a blend of Latin, rock and jazz influences breathes deeply.

A downpour of golf-ball-sized percussion raindrops plopping down onto cars and some plastic tarp greets us at the door of the first song, "Melinas's Rumba." Guitars and other subtle instrumentation follow to make a romantic, danceable song that's also suitable as background music.

The galloping beat of "Cumbla Para Los Bandidos (de amor)" makes it an excellent song for ballroom dancing, and the accordion provides just a pinch of polka flavor. "El Sueno" is a melancholy musical stroll on a lonely and overcast afternoon, and would be right at home on Ry Cooder's soundtrack for the film Paris, Texas.

In contrast, "Jobim" is the Kathy Lee Gifford of this CD -- peppy and upbeat. The title song is a jogging rumba and would also inspire some great ballroom dancing by twirling couples dressed to the hilt. While JCQ's work is all instrumental, the voice of Chet Baker singing in Spanish would be a very suitable complement to this music. That's not possible, but I can dream, can't I?

In recent years JCQ has also become a college professor in Valencia, Calif. He not only created the guitar department at the University of the Canyons, but also teaches their courses in jazz guitar styles, music theory and the music business. His first record was released in 1990. There are more things to learn about the man and his work -- and samples to be heard -- at www.juancarlosquintero.com.