JamBase Questionnaire: Cochemea Gastelum

Welcome back to JamBase's baker's dozen to the bright lights of the music world. Last time we heard from These United States.

Whether searing the fat off jam music in Robert Walter's 20th Congress, lighting up a Broadway stage as part of the Fela! band, keeping soul music soulful with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, getting deep with Archie Shepp or blazing a session with the likes of Amy Winehouse and Paul Simon, NYC fixture Cochemea Gastelum is the living embodiment of "coming correct." His crisp, lethal, adventurous sax and flute playing find the sweet spot in whatever type of music he's involved in, and unlike many horn players, he never overstays his welcome, playing just what's needed and leaving listeners hungry for more. Though clearly well grounded in the work of his predecessors, Gastelum synthesizes honking 50s big band rumble, 60s modal moves, 70s electricity, New Orleans slink and more in a way that simply announces a man in total command of his instrument, free of other's fingerprints and ready to engage in whatever comes his way.

Gastelum's long-awaited debut as bandleader, The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow (released July 20 via MOWO! Inc.), unfurls an intoxicating array of sounds, tapping into On The Corner Miles-isms, vintage Fania salsoul, warm Brecker Brothers-esque excursions, the Latin pop of War and El Chicano, and the charged, forward thinking feel of late 60s/early 70s jazz, particularly the electric sax work of Eddie Harris and the impossible-to-place groove of Phil Woods' European Rhythm Machine. Co-produced by Gastelum and Mocean Worker, the album rolls along layered percussion and a controlled, powered-up energy – a flowing inducement to move, to swing, to sway, aided by guest turns from Joe Russo, Brian Jordan, Zak Najor, Chris Stillwell and more.

It's bloody sexy music, and executed so smoothly that it's only upon further inspection that one realizes how much is actually going on. Yet, The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow never feels overstuffed or confusingly diverse. Like Gastelum's playing, it is exactly what it needs to be and a fantastic snapshot of a rich musical mind in full flight. (Dennis Cook)

Here's what Gastelum had to say to our inquiries.

Cochemea Gastelum by Greg Aiello
Nickname: "Cheme" pronounced /tchem-ay/

1. Great music rarely happens without…
Listening, letting go, and in the immortal words of Fred Wesley, playing like you don't give a fuck.

2. The first album I bought was…
Charlie Parker's "Hot House"

3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Contou's "Echos Hypnotiques"

4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
A drummer

5. My favorite sort of gig is…
A sweaty dance party

6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
There are moments when I may seem detached or distant, but I just like to be quiet and watch sometimes.

7. I love the sound of…
The ocean

8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
Sly & The Family Stone's There's A Riot Going On

9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
Au Virage Lepic in Paris

10. I always find the coolest audiences in…
Unexpected places

11. The worst habit I've picked up being on the road all the time is…
Eating late night junk food!

12. The Beatles or the Stones? Por qué?
Hmmm, probably The Beatles. My mom used to play their records all the time growing up, and I always seem to go back to their songs for some inspirado. Been on a big Stones kick lately, though.

13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
Ornette Coleman having a jam session in his apartment.

Cheme will perform perform the entire solo album in its entirety on September 10th in New York City at 92Y Tribeca with ten piece band, including members of Antibalas and Budos Band.

Cochemea Gastelum Tour Dates :: Cochemea Gastelum News :: Cochemea Gastelum Concert Reviews

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[Published on: 8/26/10]

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