In this album review, I tell you everything you want to know about Crossover by Jorge Garcia. Jorge is an exceptional Jazz, Bebop, Fusion, Brazilian, and Latin player that moves fluidly in and out of any musical style.
Classic rock fans will love this compilation of some of the most well-known tunes, twisted and fused by Jorge and his band into the ultimate “Rock-Bop” experience!
If you haven’t heard Jorge play guitar, you are missing out on a truly astounding treat! He blends a mind-boggling array of musical styles into everything he plays.
Jorge is one of Jazz’s best-kept secrets. He was born in Cuba and currently lives in South Carolina. Early exposure to classic rock as a child by listening to the radio stations of Miami broadened his love of music. During that time, he developed a curiosity and an affinity for the guitar.
Jorge got his first guitar at 13 years old and became seriously involved with jazz. He was profoundly influenced by players such as Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, George Benson, and Pat Metheny.
As a seasoned and well-respected guitarist, Jorge has traveled the world and played with Bucky Pizzarelli and backed up Tony Bennett and Andrea Bocelli.
Jorge recorded “Let The Music Play” in 1996 with his band “Athenas” with Tony Smith on bass, James Cotmon on drums, and Paul Banman on keyboards.
He also played on “The Hot Club of The Americas,” a Latin and Gypsy Jazz band led by the extraordinary violinist Federico Britos, with Cecile McLorent Salvant and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.
Crossover was produced independently by Jorge and released in 2019 on the SDG Company label.
It is a collection of 7 of Jorge’s favorite classic rock songs that have been rearranged in the jazz-fusion style, plus his own composition that is the album’s title track.
On this album, Jorge blends elements of bebop, funk, and Latin rock. Although it seems like a daunting task to tackle tunes from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, Jorge makes it look and sound easy and always leaves you wanting more!
Check out this great video, where Jorge talks about his album, Crossover.
Audio Specs And Quality
Crossover is currently available for digital download, streaming, and as an audio CD.
Jorge released the CD on March 15, 2020, during a performance at Tavolino’s in Coral Springs, Florida. It is rather difficult to find online and is currently listed as “unavailable” on Amazon’s website.
The album is available in audio CD on Jorge’s website as of this writing; apparently, a signed copy can be ordered directly from him.
The recording is high-quality, and all the instruments are very well balanced in the mix. It sounds as if it was mixed, mastered, and produced by a big record company.
Songs And Artists
|Living In The Past
|From the Beginning
|Nights in White Satin
Abel Pabon – Piano
Abel is a Miami-based pianist. He studied at the Berklee College of Music.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Abel played drums at an early age and later studied piano, arranging, and composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
He plays Jazz, Fusion, Brazilian, Latin, and Fusion styles, to name a few. Abel has worked with Joss Stone and many others, including Nestor Torres and Roberto Perera.
Abel recorded the “Miami Jazz project” jazz fusion album with Arthur Barron and Dave Liebman in 2014.
Nicky Orta – Electric Bass
Nicky took up the bass guitar at 11 years old to play with his father (a guitarist) and brother (a pianist).
He studied bass with Vince Bredice and attended Miami Dade Community College and the University of Miami.
Nicky played on the double-CD recording “La Cubanera -The Best Of Cuban Music” and recorded 2 albums with the jazz fusion band “The Wave.”
His work on the album “…And Sammy Walked In” received a Grammy nomination.
Rey Monroig – Drums
Rey Monroig works as an in-demand Miami drummer.
He started playing along with rock and metal tunes at the age of 9 and eventually made his way to jazz.
Rey’s many influences include Allan Holdsworth, Tony Williams, and Gary Husband. After studying at the Conservatory Of Music In Puerto Rico, he attended the Berkley in Puerto Rico program.
He works as a studio musician and has toured many parts of the world, playing jazz, Latin-based music, and various other styles. Rey has worked with Jose Feliciano, Nestor Torres, and Gloria Estefan.
Ignacio Berroa – Drums (On “Black Dog”)
Ignacio was born in Havana, Cuba, and is probably best known for his ingenious mix of Afro-Cuban Jazz. He is one of those truly inspiring drummers that really knows how to bring out the best in his fellow band members.
Starting in classical music as a violinist, he switched to drums at age 11, after being inspired by Glenn Miller and Nat King Cole.
This man’s playing has been admired by such Jazz and Bebop giants as Dizzy Gillespie. He was nominated for a Grammy in 2001 and 2006 for “Best Latin Jazz Album.”
Ignacio studied at the National School of Arts and then at Havana’s National Conservatory before moving to New York in 1980.
Musical Performance Highlights
There is so much happening with Jorge’s solos and the musical interaction between the band that I could go on forever.
Here are some of the performance highlights from the album.
Blackbird was written by McCartney and Lennon and performed by Paul and as a solo piece. It appeared on the Beatles’ “double white album back” in 1968. The bird sounds were from an Abbey Road studio collection of sound effects.
This tune became one of their biggest and most enduring hit of the time and is still popular internationally.
Garcia created an arrangement of Blackbird several years ago and used the idea to create other jazz versions of classic rock tunes. On Blackbird, he sets up a harmony that seems to work perfectly with the melody.
Add a terrific piano solo by Abel Pabon, and you have a true masterpiece. If you like the Beatles, this version of Blackbird will blow you away!
Living In The Past
Living in the past is was released in 1972 as the title track of a double album. The song has a catchy melodic structure due to its 5/4 time signature and a great bass line.
The bass part can really make or break this tune, and I really love Nicky Orta’s performance.
The melodic interplay between Nicky and Jorge could not be better. Their sound is so light and airy it makes you feel like you are walking on air. When Abel begins his solo, the musical focus of the song evolves to more of a straight-ahead jazz format.
From The Beginning
From The Beginning appeared on Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s third studio album, “Trilogy.” Released in 1972, it featured a multitrack overdubbed mixture of acoustic and electric guitar over a great percussive background.
It was originally written for Robert Fripp’s “In The Court Of King Crimson” but was cut from the album during production. Listen to Crimson’s debut album, and you will immediately understand why.
The Crossover version is an uptempo half-time arrangement with perfectly placed piano and synth parts, think ELP meets Jazz. Like the original version, which is played in A minor, Garcia’s phrasing has distinct “Major” qualities that give the tune sparkle.
It makes you want to go back and listen to the complete ELP catalog, and I did!
Knights In White Satin
Knights In White Satin appeared on the Moody Blues’s second album “Days Of Future Passed,” in 1967.
It exemplified the beginning of “prog (progressive) rock” with a fusion of orchestral and rock elements.
Jorge’s version is just what you might expect you would get when you take a fairly complex piece like Knights and bring it into the realm of a four-piece band of this caliber.
Garcia makes it all work wonderfully by keeping the listener focused on the song’s melody between moments of improvised lines that create interest. At the same time, Abel adds synth sounds that conjure the essence of all things Moody Blues.
Crossover, the album’s title track, has a Latin-Jazz vibe that quickly becomes a real “improvisation-fest.”
It has a very “live-in-concert” feel that makes you want to pick up your guitar and jump into the mix.
Like, roundabout, Crossover is another tune that really shows how tight Garcia’s band is and just how well they complement each other.
As the last song of the album, Crossover definitely leaves you wanting more! It’s the perfect encore tune to close a live show.
Jorge’s go-to setup is fairly straightforward.
For the album Crossover, he used a Fender D’Aquisto Elite Archtop guitar played through a Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue with a Xotic EP Booster and a Boss digital delay.
I had an opportunity to play a D’Aquisto Elite about 10 years ago at a Guitar Center. The Elite model has big block inlays and ebony volume and tone knobs.
It was a beautifully balanced guitar and had a uniquely rich acoustic sound.
When I finally plugged it into a Fender Reissue Bassman, it played and sounded amazing. I remember how arpeggios really popped out of the amp with just the slightest change in pick dynamics! I probably would have bought it, but it had an obvious neck repair that I was not comfortable with.
It appears that Nicky is using an Ampeg amp setup. Does anyone know exactly what guitar he plays on Crossover (please answer in the comments below)?
My Favorite Songs
If you’ve ever heard “Purple Haze” from Jimi’s first album entitled “The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” then you’re familiar with the E7#9 chord in a rock format.
In 1967 this album single-handedly changed the world of rock forever! To learn more about Jimi, see Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – The Killer Guitar Players!
Jorge does a funky syncopated rearrangement in 7/4 time. It perfectly captures the essence and attitude of the original version. You can hear shades of George Benson on the guitar and Jan Hammer on Abel’s keyboard.
Jimi experimented with Jazz phrasing in his work with the “Band Of Gypsys,” and I think he would have been impressed with the tune.
Black Dog “explodes” as the first song of Zeppelin’s 1971 untitled studio album, usually referred to as “Led Zeppelin IV,” and most notable for its mega-hit rock-ballad “Stairway To Heaven.
The song quintessentially defines and epitomizes the Zeppelin heavy rock sound. For more info about Led Zeppelin, see Led Zeppelin Celebration Day Review – Their Fabulous Return!
So, how do you take a Zeppelin power-rocker and make it work as a Jazz Fusion tune? Very carefully! Start with a bit of a quirky Afro-Cuban rhythm written in 6/4 time and add just the right pentatonic feel until It rocks and feels smooth at the same time.
Throw in Ignacio Berroa and a drum solo that definitely brings out a hint of John Bonham, and you have all the right ingredients to pull it off.
I would love to see what Garcia and company could do with Zeppelin’s rhythmic powerhouse “Kashmir!”
Roundabout is one of those songs you can immediately recognize from the very first harmonics in the opening line.
It was recorded by Yes and appeared as the first song on their fourth studio album, “Fragile,” released in 1971.
Roundabout, Crossover-style, is a real tour-de-force that showcases each band member in the grandest style.
Jorge does an amazing job with improvised Jazz lines that channel Steve Howe and journey off into the Bebop extreme. You’ll want to listen to it again and again.
Not to be outdone, Nicky’s bass solo will really blow you away. But, then, just when you think the party’s over, Abel’s synth solo is simply off-the-hook, to say the least. Finally, Rey’s drum solo really kicks butt and takes names.
Listening to Roundabout will never be the same again!
Final Thoughts On Crossover by Jorge Garcia
The Jorge Garcia Crossover album is truly worth a listen and one of the hidden gems belonging to any Jazz enthusiast’s collection. If you made it to the end of this article, you most likely are already streaming it or seriously thinking about it.
Crossover is a perfect introduction to some of the greatest bands of classic rock and their selected works for those fans of Jazz and all its related forms.
Crossover 2 is currently in the works, so all we can do is wait.
If you ever get the opportunity to see Jorge and his band play live, don’t even think about passing on the experience; I know I definitely won’t!
Tell Me What You Think
Please let me know what’s on your mind in the comment section or if there is anything I can help you with.
- Have you seen Jorge Garcia play? What did you think?
- Which song on this album do you like best?
- What do you think of the other band members?
- Would you buy Jorge’s music after reading this article?