Take Off A Musical Odyssey, Iván Renta

Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and raised in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Ivan Renta has become one of the premiere saxophonists in the Jazz, Latin Jazz and Latin Music Industry. His ability to adapt to any musical situation has landed him on stage at many of the world’s most prestigious venues and music festivals. His credentials include performances and recordings with artists such as Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Palmieri, Willie Colon, Ron Carter, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Heath, Ray Barreto, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Bebo Valdez, to name a few. Mr. Renta has also performed with such diverse musical acts as Al Jarreau and Hall & Oates. Mr. Renta has collaborated on three Grammy Award winning recordings. Mr. Renta is also an active Music Educator and Clinician.

Ivan Renta began playing Alto Sax at the age of 13 in his hometown of Coamo, Puerto Rico. His band director, Luis "Wito" Santiago, recognized his talent right away promoting him to lead Alto Sax in the school band. Soon after, Ivan joined “la Escuela Libre de Musica Antonio Paoli” in Caguas, Puerto Rico and began studying with Professor Willie Corps. Wanting to learn Jazz Improvisation he began private lessons with Jose "Cheguito" Encarnacion who introduced him to Jazz Harmony and Improvisation. "When I first heard Miles Davis with John Coltrane's "58 Sessions" at Cheguito's house, I knew that this was what I wanted to do." Renta recalls.

Soon after that he moved to NYC to attend the "New School Jazz and Contemporary Music Program". While at the New School, Ivan studied with Jazz legends such as Reggie Workman, Gary Dial, George Garzone, Buster Williams to name a few. In 2000 Ivan got a call to participate on Tito Puente & Eddie Palmieri's recording "Masterpiece" winner of multiple Grammys and what turned out to be Puente's last album.

After recording “Masterpiece”, Mr. Renta became a member of Eddie Palmieri’s Latin Jazz Ensemble and Salsa Band. Mr. Renta accepted an invitation made to him by pianist/composer/arranger Arturo O’Farrill to join the Jazz at the Lincoln Center’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. After working with Mr. Palmieri for approximately six years, he proceeded to become the saxophonist for Salsa legend Willie Colon’s Orchestra. He has also collaborated extensively with trombonist Luis Bonilla and percussionist Chembo Corniel. He recently recorded his first project as a leader with pianist Edsel Gomez, bassist Ruben Rodriguez, drummer Ernesto Simpson and percussionist Richie Flores with special guests Giovanni Hidalgo, Luis Bonilla and Nelson “Gazu” Jaime. It is scheduled to be released in September of 2013.

Nilpo Music

There is a tearing sound that seems to come from deep inside the bell of Iván Renta’s horn, every so often. But for this to happen, Mr. Renta must achieve a state of transcendental meditation, where the horn becomes a part of his very being. There is no reed; the tongue is both reed and implement of embouchure. Literally the tenor saxophone becomes an extension of Mr. Renta’s body. A great wave of heat melts into the horn as if Mr. Renta had lit a great big fire in his lungs. Breathing with this fiery wave of flame and heat, Mr. Renta dares Luis Bonilla to react to the tenor saxophone’s zealot-like soli. The fact that Mr. Bonilla finds it in himself to blaze away when called upon to do so in the exquisite bolero, “Carmen” is a tribute to the trombonist’s easy relationship with the dominant tenor saxophonist. Elsewhere, on “Melancolía” Iván Renta finds himself in a solitary position and this time he is brilliant in challenging himself to carve up the dense air that hangs around the song with elemental sadness. But this is a saxophonist who is uncharacteristic in the molten emotion that he displays on this chart.

Elsewhere Iván Renta plays as if he is ensconced in a baroque magisterium, from where he issues music of vaunted report. Thus he turns Chick Corea’s “Matrix” into a lofty musical conundrum of melting math into art, and in doing so he uncorks the bottle of magic potion that he appears to have consumed as he navigates around the almost metaphysical aspects of the song. The saxophonist’s polyphonics is imbued and reflected with swart gusto by Richie Flores’ polyrhythmic machine. This is just before the excited conversation between the saxophonist and Giovanni Hidalgo on tumbadoras, on “Rioma”. However, the most magnanimous relationship is shared between Iván Renta and Edsel Gómez, the Puerto-Rican born, New York based pianist who gives commanding performances throughout the recording, especially on “Take Off” and “Matrix.” Mr. Gómez shares a special relationship with Mr. Renta. This much is clear from the fact that neither man gives notice of where a solo performance ends, yet the other instinctively knows.

This is a wonderful debut record; a bit short in duration, but a mighty effort with memorable results nevertheless.


Released October 2, 2020

Ivan Renta – Sax
Edsel Gomez – Piano
Ruben Rodriguez – Bass
Ernesto Simpson – Drums
Richie Flores – Percussion

Invited Guests:
Nelson “Gazu” Jaime – Trumpet (4)
Luis Bonilla – Trombone (2)
Giovanni Hidalgo – Congas (4)

Episode #246

No Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *