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brandingimag.jpgMAKING HIS DOMESTIC debut after three Brazilian imports and several years as a notable sideman, Puerto Rican pianist Edsel Gomez arrives with the multifaceted debut. As with the painting style, Cubist Music features small motifs pasted together to become unique but generally organic tunes that are in the post end of post-bop. This is music where little melodies abound like gifts under the tree: each one is unwrapped, played with and then set aside for the next. Joined by an A-team crew of former employers, Gomez has saxophonists David Sanchez, Miguel Zenon, Greg Tardy and Steve Wilson as well as Don Byron on clarinet and Drew Gress on bass. The material can be a little discordant at times (“Harmolodic Collage” and “Ladybug”), but these moments are nicely balanced by arching melodies (“Juan Tizol” and the elegant “Empty House”). Cerebral but altogether winning, Cubist Music is an unexpected surprise that will start the New Year off on the right note.

– Tad Hendrickson