Jazz guitarist and composer Ray Obiedo takes some surprising turns on his new album, “Carousel.” The album is touted as smooth jazz, but at times, the recording ramps up into a sound that is a little more rollicking. Smooth or slightly rocking, “Carousel” is a fascinating blend of smooth jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms, along with pop melodies and Latin/Brazilian grooves.
“Carousel” was released Aug. 16, 2018. The brilliant collection of songs contains eight by Obiedo and one by Henry Mancini.
About Roy Obiedo
A native and current resident of the San Francisco Bay area, Obiedo has an extensive professional resume. But before he put that resume together, he found inspiration from the variety of music he heard growing up around the musically rich San Francisco Bay area.
Obiedo recalls a favorite childhood memory of traveling across the Bay to hear some of the most popular musical acts at the Fillmore Auditorium and Winter Auditorium. Among the famous musicians Obiedo saw live were Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone.
Obiedo was seriously studying guitar in his senior year of high school. Around the same time, he was being influenced by the jazz of Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
The guitarist’s persistence in studying guitar paid off. Obiedo spent the 1970s and 1980s studying his instrument’s craft. By the end of the 1970s, he had earned a spot playing with Herbie Hancock. Obiedo also spent some time playing with other musical luminaries, among them Johnny “Hammond” Smith, Julian Priester, Azteca, and Harvey Mason of Fourplay.
Obiedo’s early career was marked by gigs as a sideman. He also led a fusion group called Kick, that featured a young Sheila E. on drums.
Obiedo’s solo career began in 1989. In the past few years, he has released five albums.
The sound of “Carousel” by Ray Obiedo
Like some other albums that are considered smooth jazz, the inflections of r&b are present. There are also Latin grooves. For the most part, the soundscape is horn-rich, with the brass mixing with the rhythms. However, one song, “Sharp Aztec” stands out for its slightly harder edge.
“Sharp Aztec” by Ray Obiedo
The song begins with percussion and quickly shifts into a danceable piece complete with piano and horns participating in an exchange that keeps the song from being too sleepy or low-key.
The horn motif plays until the end and it gives the song its lively feel. That plus the overall “big” sound and the entire album’s full sound provides much of what recommends “Carousel.”