Alexis Cuadrado's 3rd CD, Puzzles, is an important step forward in the Barcelona-born bassist and composer's career. Not only did he write and arrange the album's music, but the project is wholly self-produced. The making of Puzzles also helped inspire him to co-found a new label: Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records. The Puzzles band features some of the most innovative musicians in New York's jazz scene: Loren Stillman on sax, Brad Shepik on guitar and Mark Ferber on drums. Trombonist Alan Ferber is as a guest on three songs and Pete Rende adds a special touch playing organ on one track. After a year of intense playing, the group recorded the album in Alexis' Brooklyn living room in order to capture the raw sound of the band. It was a return to the classic way jazz records used to be made, but forward thinking in musical content. "I feel it is my most private record," Alexis stated in a recent interview, "It tells my personal story of the last 3 years... it was initially conceived in the home where I moved in 2004. My wife Ave and I bought a fixer-upper house in Brooklyn and I wrote all the songs as we were renovating the space. So both projects grew together. Then I decided that I actually wanted to record it here in my living room with all the band playing together without separation... so that gives it a real jazz feel. The sound we got reminds me a bit of the old Blue Note records... The actual music has a very 'jazz' concept to me... The songs might seem intricate or abstract, but they all have a strong jazz essence to them. I feel the pieces allowed the band to develop it's own sound and vibe, and every time we perform, we find new ways of playing them that take us to unknown places. The CD cover art is from a photo of a 1970's work of art my father-in-law painted, which is composed with thousands of puzzle pieces. It's a crazy art piece... He died in 2005, when we were in the middle of a construction zone in the house... It was very emotional for me. My wife and her mother, who's a professional photographer, took all the pictures for the album, so the record has a really strong connection to friends, home, family, life..." Puzzles closes a kind of trilogy, together with Alexis' previous CDs Metro (2001) and Visual (2004). Without any of the trappings of a studio recording, it plainly displays exactly what it is: an honest recording of a great band.
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