Cochemea Gastelum, The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow
Mowoi Inc., 2010
The Solo Debut of One Ingenious Dap-King
Saxophone player Cochemea Gastelum is releasing a magnificent solo debut album that is one long, thrilling bungee jump down the many levels of pop music history going back to the 1950s. It takes listeners past glimpses of genres and sub-genres all made fresh and new by these original compositions, penned (or co-penned) by Gastelum himself.
There is depth and substance as well as definite hit potential here. Try for example, to listen to “Carlito!” without dancing; the excitement level does not flag.
Gastelum has lent his genius to performances and recordings with Paul Simon and Amy Winehouse, among other notables, and he’s now a member of the new soul group Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.
A highly prized session man and performer in New York City, Gastelum is anything but a studio drone. In his solos and arrangements, he demonstrates not only fluency and gusto, but also imagination and a well-rounded aesthetic that makes this well of music sparkle.
Listening to The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow puts you on a Vespa racing through the streets of Milan past garrulous buildings; soaring over a light-bejewelled New York at night; cruising for an ice cream palace down a palm-lined avenue; slow dancing in a blaxploitation film; toking on a high-rise rooftop; doing the double-backed beast accompanied by incense, a lava lamp, and silk sheets; salsa dancing in a Tunisian resort; go-go dancing in a Japanese teen club…
Gastelum is first and foremost a saxophone player, but like many sax players, he’s also a flautist (sax players often take up the flute because it’s more compatible with their embouchure than any other wind instrument). He’s just as phenomenal on the flute, his playing uninhibited and virile, yet controlled.
In true Mindful Bard fashion, Gastelum honours the creative process as channelled through the unconscious; the idea for The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow actually came to him in a dream.
Keep your eye on The Voice for an upcoming interview with Gastelum from his current tour in Paris.
The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow fulfills four of the Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth a listen: 1) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour; 2) it is about attainment of the true self; 3) it makes me want to be a better artist; and 4) it is authentic, original, and delightful.