Native Language Music
In the early 1990s, it appeared trumpeter/flugel-hornist Tony Guerrero was on a path to contemporary jazz stardom much like now conferred on contemporaries Chris Botti and Rick Braun. Funny how life turns out. The Southern California resident has remained in the industry while producing projects and performing in the studio, but has bigger concerns on his mind as director of creative arts for Saddleback Church, where the pastor is the well-known Rick Warren, he of The Purpose-Driven Life fame and the moderator of a much-talked-about presidential forum that featured both Barack Obama and John McCain. At the mega-church, Guerrero oversees hundreds of musicians, singers and artists in everything from weekly services to concerts and productions.
It’s nice to have him back for Apasionado, a collection of 12 Latin- and Brazilian-influenced songs. While much of Guerrero’s 1990s work was top-notch, it was also defined by the times with its synth beats and hints of R&B. But the full-bodied Apasionado sounds just about right for its time, with more nuance and depth than you’re likely to find on other CDs in the contemporary jazz genre. While “Amando” and the title track remind you that Guerrero hasn’t lost his pop grip, it’s on tunes like “What the Heart Dreams,” “Jacala” and “Sunlight” that it seems that pop and true jazz are handled with a kind of burst of faith that is rare these days.