With a stunning mixture of grace and power, tenor saxophonist Diego Rivera transcends cultural boundaries to deliver an emphatic message of intelligence and inclusivity on his latest release “Mestizo.” Critical listeners may appreciate these performances as a series of engaged discussions employing the repartee of context and contrast between the leading voices of the horns and the affectionate support and retort from their immaculate rhythm section of pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Rudy Royston. This assemblage of bright moments is also admirably enhanced by the presence of trumpet phenomenon Alex Sipiagin, who joins Rivera as his front line aide-de-cam, providing musical offerings of incisive intensity that steadily serve to escalate the entire proceeding unto another level.
Nonetheless, if we overly focus on the interplay of elements, then we risk missing out on the point of the dialogue and mis- take the medium for the message. Rivera’s unmistakable talent as a songwriter is the real story, as he deftly transforms this dynamic quintet into a unified instrument and unleashes a powerful combination of swing- ing blasts juxtaposed with forays into the emotional parlance of subtle conversation. From the opening salvo to the last hurrah, the melodic message of “Mestizo” moves effortlessly straightforward and affirms that Rivera is a shining star of unlimited brilliance to keep an eye on for many years to come.