Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 03/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Looking for great lost legends of the jazz world? Look no further. Anthony Ortega may be the best unknown jazzman out there. Possessed of a startling, almost entirely self-taught alto jazz sax style that is virtuoso yet accessible, simple yet sophisticated, earthy yet spiritual, subtle yet declamatory, Ortega easily falls into the category of the criminally neglected. On the basis of just the two discs I have heard by him, this one and On Evidence, I would say he is certainly among the most important unheard jazzmen ever.There's a distinct oriental tinge to his playing, something akin to the great Pharoah Sanders transposed to a higher key. There's also a touch of Bobby Watson--that impossibly engaging, dancing, lilting tone (although at this stage in his career he certainly had never heard Watson, who is probably a decade or two younger than him), and, perhaps a lyrical dollop of Lee Konitz and Paul Desmond, both of whom he may certainly have heard. And he has somewhat of a similar oddness of approach as Jimmy Giuffre, but his playing is so far removed from him that it can hardly be regarded as an influence.In the final analysis, he doesn't really sound much like anyone. And that's his greatest accomplishment. He really has a unique sound and concept. On this disc, he sounds decades ahead of his times--and, ironically, that may be why he's such an obscure figure: the jazz world just wasn't ready for his genius.This may all sound a little intimidating or obscure. But the truth is, Anthony Ortega is some you MUST hear. I regard him as my biggest ever jazz discovery."