Nelson Riveros
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Nelson Riveros

Tenafly, New Jersey, United States | SELF

Tenafly, New Jersey, United States | SELF
Band Jazz Latin


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Review written by: Raul de Gama

Nelson Riveros is one of the most proficient melodic guitarists inhabiting the world of music today. On top of that he is artful rhythmically. He puts both to use playing largely in the middle and lower registers of his instrument—unusual among guitarists, who, for some reason, prefer the wail of the upper register almost all the time. Riveros also seems in no rush to play a phrase or lick. Consequently his lines are longish and dally deliciously as they navigate voluptuous notes, which wrap around the melody as they harmonise beautifully with it, weaving in and out of the framework of each song. Riveros is also a gifted writer and can easily be a great one as he keeps honing his compositional skills. As it is, he writes short songs with complex melodies and challenging rhythms and he is also capable of arranging these with some degree of counterpoint. Whether this counterpoint will find itself in writing for different instruments—horns, or strings—are left to be seen.
On Camino al Barrio Riveros is joined by the remarkable pianist, Hector Martignon, as co-producer and who assisted in the arrangements of some tracks. Both men perform outstandingly. Riveros is the surprise as he plays with an unexpected fluidity showing none of the jagged edges that sometimes come with debut albums. This is, then a very accomplished piece of work. There is a preponderance of Bossa Nova rhythms and this is especially delightful on Jimmy van Huesen’s “Darn That Dream,” which is less dreamy in the Brasilian rhythm, but has a fine, ironic edge to it that is absent when it is played straight. The Bossa rhythm is the underlying bed for other tracks and overlaid on this could be other, more complex time signatures as well, as on the title track. To make this worthwhile Riveros is aided and abetted by an excellent pair of percussionists: Ernesto Simpson, who dazzles behind the conventional drum set, and Samuel Torres, who plays an assortment of percussion instruments not attached to the regular set.
veros is also a sensitive vocalist. He appears somewhat tentative, at first, on “La Puerta,” but soon warms up to the lyrics and delivers a good performance. Hector Martignon and Riveros have stellar solos, back to back, on this track, beautifully arranged by the fine guitarist, David Oquendo, who does not play on this album. Riveros’ version of Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me” is utterly disarming and indicates that the guitarist has much more to offer than merely an understanding of music in Latin American modes. Rather he seems to be well versed in the history of American music, especially in music that made its way to stage and screen in a sort of “golden era” of song writing. The guitarist is also an emotional writer and performer and his heartfelt “Song for Marta” is evidence of this.
For a debut, this is a very accomplished album and it augers well for Riveros’ future work. For one, it will be interesting to see how he might deal with music that is not constrained by the 32-bar format. Writing and playing with strings and horns is another aspect of Riveros’ work that is eagerly awaited. His true talent will probably show then and this is something to look forward to.
Tracks: Caipirinha; Blue Cha-Cha; Darn That Dream; Camino al Barrio; La Puerta; Los Primos; Song for Marta; Mis Amores; Second Chance; It’s All Right With Me.
Personnel: Nelson Riveros: guitars, vocal (5); Hector Martignon: piano, Fender Rhodes; Armando Gola: bass; Ernesto Simpson: drums; Samuel Torres: percussion; Christos Rafalides: vibes (2, 4, 8); Andres Garcia: tiple (6, 8).

“Young guitarist and rising Latin jazz artist Nelson Riveros walks through a landscape of Latin, Brazilian and contemporary jazz on Camino Al Barrio; an adventurous debut outing with outstanding musicianship and impressive material sure to bring well-deserved attention”.
-Edward Blanco, All about Jazz

"Guitarist Nelson Riveros paints wonderful picture of his experiences on Camino Al Barrio with a stirring Latin Jazz album that draw upon many worlds. The revealing choice of repertoire on Camino Al Barrio paints Riveros as an interesting artist with a broad background, leaving us excited to hear about the next chapter in his life".
-Chip Boaz, Latinjazzcorner

"Quite a solid debut full of fire and passion from a guitarist to keep an eye on".
-Brad Walseth,

“Nelson Riveros is one of the most proficient melodic guitarists inhabiting the world of music today. On top of that he is artfully rhythmically. Riveros is also a gifted writer and can easily be a great one as he keeps honing his compositional skills”
- Raul de Gama –

“Camino Al Barrio is a crisp, breezy affair of small group Latin-flavored jazz. Nelson Riveros knows how to serve it up not too heavy or not too light, and always sunny side up”.
- Pico, Something Else Reviews

Riveros brings the Latin edge to his upbeat, tasty fusion guitar work on his impressive debut.
-Chris Spector, Midwest Record

“He’s a fine guitarist with just the right sense of pulse and the clave and the sensibility of the Latin heart”
- Bob Gish – Jazz Inside Magazine

“In his retrospective and introspective first offering as a leader, Nelson looks into his personal and musical roots for inspiration for his journey ahead; inspiration he found in an epiphany of sounds and ideas that illuminate his "Camino al barrio"... Every work of art is in some way autobiographical”.
-Hector Martignon

"On Camino Al Barrio, Guitarist Nelson Riveros has created a group sound that encompasses roots from Latin America with a very listenable jazz aesthetic.
I'm sure there will be plenty of happy listeners."
-Rez Abbasi

“Nelson is one of the brightest new faces on today's Jazz Guitar Scene. This new CD not only demonstrates his virtuosity, it showcases his wonderful skills as a composer and vocalist" We are sure to hear alot more from this gifted young talent...”
-Vic Juris

“Nelson Riveros has come up with a collection of songs that grab your attention right away, with interesting melodic and harmonic Ideas, and each, with a personality of it’s own. His improvisations, along with the other players, Hector and the rhythm section, are bitingly fresh and creative and true to the spirit of each piece.
It’s also impossible to listen to the variety of infectious grooves here, and not want to get up and dance.”
Bravo, Nelson,
-Gene Bertoncini

“Nelson is a really good guitarist. Lot's of great jazz ...worth the effort...good music here."
~Andy Harlow, renowned Latin jazz artist of the FANIA Super Salsa Band, and brother of Larry Harlow of the FANIA All-Star

- Short reviews and excerpts , scroll down for complete reviews

by Bob Gisg
Andale pues! It’s Latin time and Nelson Riveros with his road to the barrio journey invites us along. He’s a fine guitarist with just the right sense of thepulse and the clave and the sensibility of the Latin heart. All in all Riveros is a musician, a guitarist, and a composer, who, happens to express most of his jazz
talent to the Latin beat. Most of the tunes, with the exception of Van Huesen’s “Darn That Dream” and Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me” are one hundred percent chacha, salsa, and bossa, served up with flair and heat. Riveros can claim all the accolades for the inspiration and the Spanish in his compositions. An
extra touch, not usually associated with such Latin conceptions is Hector Margignon’s Fender Rhodes
which gives a kind of retro Sixties feel to the tunes, especially Blue Cha-Cha. Christos Rafalides’s vibes
on three of the tracks add yet another layer of complexity and texture, if not sophistication.
“Darn That Dream” and “It’s All Right WithMe’ as heard here are so new rhythmically as to be totally
reconceived and reconstructed. The latter comes closest of all the tracks to a conventional swing feel,
yet here too, is the echo of a barrio street band. So even with the standards and the conventional the listener
is indeed on the road to all the passion and panache of the barrio beat. Adelante! Que viva el Barrio y los hermanos - Jazz Inside Magazine

NELSON RIVEROS/Camino Al Barrio: You know what's cool? When the pull quotes in your promo pack are from other, respected musos instead of writers no one has heard of. Riveros brings the Latin edge to his upbeat, tasty fusion guitar work on his impressive debut. He's learned his lessons well, surrounds himself with the best players around and shows he has the DIY spark that could teach indie rockers a thing or two. On the money throughout, this is a real taste treat for contemporary jazzbos.
1000 - Midwest Record

The repertoire that an artist chooses to include on a recording says a lot about their own musical identity. Preferences for certain songs come from specific exposures within an artist’s life, and when they are all gathered in one place, we are presented with a compelling picture. In terms of revealing an artist’s inner personality, original material hits home with the most accuracy. Here the artist draws upon familiar musical conventions, they reference stylistic norms through their melodic composition, and they make cultural connection through rhythmic foundations. When writing a tune, the artist makes every choice personally, and every association leads back to their own life. The inclusion of standards tells a story about an artist’s background, both culturally and musically. Each genre has its standards, and musicians generally draw upon this collection of classic music when they have a deep connection to the overall style. The addition of compositions from their peers tells a story about their personal associations and their playing experiences. There’s so much inherent here - a great collection of music exists as more than simply a pleasurable listening experience, it stands as a revealing picture of the artist as a human being. Guitarist Nelson Riveros paints wonderful picture of his experiences on Camino Al Barrio with a stirring Latin Jazz album that draw upon many worlds.

A Modern Spin On Afro-Cuban Rhythms
Riveros puts a modern spin on Afro-Cuban rhythms with several pieces that show the guitarist’s connection to the style. Syncopated chords open the door for a greasy melody from Riveros and vibraphonist Christos Rafalides over a driving rhythm section groove on “Blue Cha-Cha.” Pianist Hector Martignon leaps into his improvisation with an enthusiastic zeal, running long lines straight into a wonderfully understated solo from Riveros. Vibraphonist Christos Rafalides carefully constructs thoughtful ideas that move through the harmony with a percussive edge, and after a return to the melody, the group sets up a vamp for a strong solo from percussionist Samuel Torres. Riveros builds a beautifully lush unaccompanied introduction on Luis Demetrio’s “La Puerta,” adding his ear capturing vocals over his solo guitar. The rhythm section joins Riveros with a steady bolero, pushing his vocal into a flowing improvisation full of harmonic colors from Martignon. Riveros creates an expressive improvisation on acoustic guitar that reflects the vibe of the soulful vocal that he uses the end the tune. The rhythm section provides an understated cha cha cha groove on “Song For Marta” while Riveros floats over the top with a lyrical theme. Bassist Armando Gola leaps into an attention grabbing solo, mixing bluesy appeal with virtuosic technique, until Riveros skillfully develops a strong theme into a larger statement. Martignon runs rapid lines over the mid-tempo groove, landing in a propulsive montuno, allowing Torres an opportunity to show off his prodigious technique and artful phrasing. These tunes show Riveros’ comfort with Afro-Cuban settings, as he smartly reinterprets them through a modern lens while holding onto their integrity.

Dipping Into Other Musical Influences From South America And The Caribbean
Riveros balances out his repertoire with tunes that dip into other musical influences from South America and the Caribbean. Drummer Ernesto Simpson charges into an up-tempo samba with percussive effects from the whole rhythm section on “Caipirinha,” leading into a memorable melody from Riveros. The guitarist enthusiastically leaps into his improvisation, spinning lyrical lines over the churning rhythm section that wind through the chord changes with ease. Martignon plows into his solo, putting an edge on the mellow sound of his Fender Rhodes with twisting lines and an aggressive attack. Rich harmonic colors flow over the rhythm section’s jazzified bomba groove on “Camino al Barrio,” leading into an angular melody from Riveros. Rafalides takes his time working into his improvisation, starting with sparse lines that extend into large flourishes of harmonic color. Riveros takes a more active approach, flying right into assertive lines that burn a searing line through the harmony. A sudden unison band hit leads into the familiar melody of Jimmy Van Huesen’s “Darn That Dream” over a lively bossa nova. Riveros tears through the classic changes on acoustic guitar with clever sequences and engaging melodies that draw avid response from Simpson. Gola displays a skill for melodic ingenuity on a smartly crafted improvisation, while Martignon mixes melodic and rhythmic tension on his solo. These pieces reveal some diversity to Riveros’ Latin Jazz approach, reflecting the scope of his background.

A Broad Array Of Settings
A number of other songs place Riveros in a broad array of settings, ranging from Latin Jazz to funky fusion. Martignon and Gola establish a lumbering groove that falls into a 6/8 feel on “Los Primos,” providing the foundation for a sparse melody from Riveros. The guitarist reveals a deep seated ability to create logically structured melodies through creative thematic development with a memorable improvisation. A return to the uplifting melody pushes the song into high gear, and once the rhythm section revisits the original groove, Simpson explodes into an exciting display of drum pyrotechnics. Delicately intertwining melodies from Riveros and Rafalides introduce a singable theme on “Mis Amores,” which shimmers off the smart harmonic basis. Riveros improvises with a subtle rhythmic momentum while Rafalides outlines the chords before jumping into his own statement. The two musicians continue trading ideas throughout the track, finding an engaging conversational style that leads to a powerful duo performance. An aggressively funky groove from Martignon, Gola, and Riveros opens “Second Chance,” leading into singable melody from the guitarist. Riveros adds an edgy element to his improvisation with a distorted tone, ripping through the song with bluesy lines and rapid streams of notes. Martignon’s Fender Rhodes bounces through the bubbly groove with a joyful momentum, leading into an energetic improvisation full of running line from Gola on acoustic bass. These pieces prove Riveros to be a musician with a wide range of interests and the ability to artfully move between different musical worlds.

An Interesting Artist With A Broad Background
Riveros gives us a good look at a piece of his life on Camino Al Barrio, revealing a defined artist with a broad musical background. His guitar playing leaps off the recording, revealing an insightful improviser with a firm grasp on melodic construction and artistic finesse. Riveros’ improvisations flow through the recording with the thematic fluidity of Metheny while maintaining a traditional jazz approach to playing through the changes. As a composer, Riveros displays a firm grasp on harmony and a bluesy melodic sense that links him to the great hard bop and soul jazz writers. He places these ideas in a Latin Jazz context, but balances the two worlds evenly; South American and Caribbean rhythms support the songs, but they never overwhelm them or get lost. Martignon consistently appears as a strong voice, contributing inspired improvisations, solid support, and an experienced attitude. Rafalides provides a sympathetic voice that blends beautifully with Riveros’ guitar, providing tonal variation and harmonic variation. Simpson, Torres, and Gola drive the album with a smart combination of Latin rhythms and jazz spontaneity, playing with solid groove and interactive commentary. The revealing choice of repertoire on Camino Al Barrio paints Riveros as an interesting artist with a broad background, leaving us excited to hear about the next chapter in his life.

———- - Latin Jazz Corner

Nelson Riveros - "Camino Al Barrio"
(Nelsongo Music)
Straight out of East Harlem's barrio comes the exciting sounds of young Colombian-American guitarist Nelson Riveros' Camino Al Barrio . Riveros is joined here by Grammy-nominated keyboardist Hector Martignon, with bassist Armando Gola, drummer Ernesto Simpson and percussionist Samuel Torres filling out the basic ensemble. Things start off briskly with the Latin-flavored "Caipirinha." Written by Riveros, this is one of several original compositions by the guitarist that are joined by standards "Darn That Dream," and Cole Porter's "It's All Right With Me," as well as one track written by Martignon. Guest vibraphonist Christos Rafalides makes his presence felt on three tunes, including the second track "Blue Cha-Cha" which as on the opening number again features Martignon on tasty Fender Rhodes. Riveros' style on the guitar shows more of a straight-ahead influence than one would initially suspect, but his clean tones and assured lines suit the music nicely. "Darn That Dream" succeeds as an energetic bossa, while spirits stay high on the exhuberant title track. Riveros even takes an enjoyable vocal foray on Luis Demetrio, on which he also shows excellent command of the nylon-string guitar. Riveros' voice is so effective that he may considering doing more along these lines in the future. Another guest, Andres Garcia makes his first appearance on the complex and moving "Los Primos" - playing the tiple (a small 12-string instrument) - on a piece that almost approaches the sound of fusion. "Song for Marta" is another engaging showcase for Riveros' confident melodic runs, that builds to a satisfying climax, while "Mis Amores" is a mysterious and melancholy combination of acoustic guitar and vibes. Martignon's "Second Chance" is a toe-tapping straight-ahead number with some fun changes, while the Porter tune comes across almost as vaudeville. Quite a solid debut full of fire and passion from a guitarist to keep an eye on. -

by Pico

I remember at least as far back as 1988 that South American grooves and contemporary jazz can and do mix together well. I was reminded of that harmonious blend again when I first spun up the new CD by New York electric guitarist and composer Nelson Riveros. The light, danceable grooves, the tasteful guitar playing, unobtrusive rhythm section and world class percussion are all the ingredients one could ask for in making the mix work its best.

Riveros' brand of modern Latin jazz isn't quite the same of Ricardo Silveiros, the fellow guitarist he reminds me of. As a native Brazilian, Silveiros naturally infused flavors of Brazil all over his brand of fusion jazz. Riveros, on the other hand, hails from Queens, New York and has lived all over NYC. But his parents came from Columbia and through their richly diverse record collection, they infused an interest in young Nelson of music ranging from Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to the more ancestral styles like Cumbia and Salsa. Later on, Riveros got exposed to the goodness of Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Pat Martino, Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour. You can clearly hear those influences in Riveros' playing style today, which is very fluid, supple and refined.

Riveros studied first at Berklee and then City College, where he got his Bachelors of Music, then honed his six string skills studying under the likes of Gene Bertoncini, Vic Juris, Peter McCannnad and composition with Mike Holober. He's been teaching guitar at the 92nd Street Y School of Music for the last five years, but recently, he felt the need to share the music he's learned to make. That's how this record, Camino Al Barrio, came to life.

For his debut CD, Riveros had Hector Martignon on piano and Rhodes, Armando Gola on bass, Ernesto Simpson on drums and Samuel Torres on percussion. Torres is a name already familiar to this site as we put some ears on his own latest CD last spring. Joining this group for a handful of tracks are Christos Rafalides on vibes and Andres Garcia on the Colombian Tiple (a 12-string instrument slightly smaller than a standard acoustic guitar).

A lot of "Latin-flavored" contemporary jazz gets pigeonholed into the smooth jazz category, and the music on Camino Al Barrio is certainly smooth, but Riveros avoids the pitfalls of that idiom by keeping his arrangements clean and his songs---six of the ten tracks were self-composed---from being too formulaic. And just because Riveros is of Colombian descent doesn't necessarily make this a "Colombian" record; the festive first track "Caipirinha" is actually evocative of a Brazilian Carnival; the name even comes from the name of Brazil's most popular cocktail. "Blue Cha-Cha" is pretty descriptive, a "cha-cha" that may not use any blue chord progressions, but Riveros' guitar solo does show a bit of blues-jazz phrasing in it. "Los Primo" is the lone song where Rafalides and Garcia both play on, and they add a little richness to the harmonics without adding any heft. However, what I like about this song the most is the intricately constructed melody, especially that deceptively tricky bridge.

Riveros straps on an acoustic guitar and takes a vocal turn on his ballad "La Puerta," singing in a pleasingly romantic Spanish tongue, but not overly romantic. Two covers are tackled here as well: Jimmy Van Huesen's "Darn That Dream" is set to a sprightly boss nova styled rhythm and the album closer, Cole Porter's "It's All Right With Me," starts off a little slow and builds up to a a brisk, bebop pace. Once again, demonstrating Riveros is not limiting himself to a handful of narrowly defined styles, this song is performed as a straight jazz way, and done with vigor and plenty of chops all around.

Self-released last month, Camino Al Barrio is a crisp, breezy affair of small group Latin-flavored jazz. Nelson Riveros knows how to serve it up not too heavy or not too light, and always sunny side up. Visit his website here.
- Something Else Reviews

By Edward Blanco

Sometimes referred to as "the jazz capital of the world," New York has always served as the inspiration for the works of many actors, writers and musicians as it does once again for the Nelson Riveros debut Camino Al Barrio. Born in the Big Apple of Colombian parents, guitarist and composer Riveros drew inspiration for the album from his experience while living in the different boroughs of New York.
The album's sizzling opener "Caipirinha," inhabits obvious authentic Brazilian grooves, in a primarily Latin jazz project that also happens to contain a couple of classic standards performed in straight-ahead fashion with a Latin twist. The album features a core quintet of area players that include fellow countryman and Grammy-nominated pianist Hector Martignon and expands the cast with special guests such as Greek vibraphonist Christos Rafalides, a member of the Latin and World music group Manhattan Vibes.

Launching a series of firm riffs in front of drummer Ernesto Simpson and percussionist Samuel Torres,, the original percussive "Blue Cha-Cha" is an exciting driving piece of music enjoying fine accompaniment from Rafalides. Jimmy Van Huesen's standard, "Darn That Dream," is awakened to a much livelier tempo and beckons repeated spins, highlighted by some of the guitarist's best chops on the album. Obviously an exceptional guitarist, Riveros demonstrates another one of his talents by voicing the beautiful Luis Demetrio love song, "La Puerta," a song on where Martignon is especially pronounced.

Despite the Spanish title, "Los Primos" does not possess an overtly Latin flavor and qualifies as one of the more straight-ahead numbers, finding Riveros leading the music on electric guitar. At first, "Song for Marta" follows in much the same vein delivering a very contemporary sound, but then reveals its true Latin charm with hard Afro-Cuban rhythms four-and-half-minutes into the tune. "Mis Amores" is a highlight of the disc presenting a duet between Riveros and Rafalides.

Martignon's "Second Chance" is another one of the hard-driving pieces of the album, providing the guitarist with an opportunity to perform like a rock guitarist, while allowing bassist Armando Gola and Martignon (on Fender Rhodes) a little solo space of their own. Finishing off with a swinging rendition of Cole Porter's "It's All Right With Me," Riveros' first project brings to mind the simple words of Andy Harlow, renowned Latin jazz artist of the FANIA Super Salsa Band, and brother of Larry Harlow of the FANIA All-Stars, when referring to this debut as "Lot's of great jazz ...worth the effort...good music here."

Young guitarist and rising Latin jazz artist Nelson Riveros walks through a landscape of Latin, Brazilian and contemporary jazz on Camino Al Barrio; an adventurous debut outing with outstanding musicianship and impressive material sure to bring well-deserved attention.

Nelson Riveros at All About Jazz | Related Links...

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- All About Jazz


Nelson Riveros 'Camino Al Barrio'



“Young guitarist and rising Latin jazz artist Nelson Riveros walks through a landscape of Latin, Brazilian and contemporary jazz on Camino Al Barrio; an adventurous debut outing with outstanding musicianship and impressive material sure to bring well-deserved attention”.
Edward Blanco - All About Jazz

New York Guitarist Nelson Riveros' Contemporary Latin-Jazz debut CD titled 'Camino Al Barrio' peaked at #8 on the Jazz Week World Music Charts Albums He was nominated among his peers as 'Next Best Generation Artist' and Best Latin Jazz Guitar' for the 2010 Latin Jazz Corner Best of The Year Awards.

Born in New York to Colombian parents, Nelson began playing guitar in high school and become well-versed in many styles of music which include Jazz, Latin, and Rock.
He studied guitar with a very in demand guitar teacher named George Bien who turned him on to the records of Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino ,Lee Ritenour, and Larry Carlton.

After briefly attending the Berklee College of Music, Nelson returned to New York to involve himself in the music scene and played in many bands. For several years he worked for guitarist/producer Nile Rodgers' Sumthing Else Musicworks before returning to school. He began studying with Remo Palmieri (Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie)

He graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from City College where he studied guitar with Gene Bertoncini, Pete
McCann and composition with Mike Holober. Nelson also studied music at Mannes College of Music where he studied guitar with Vic Juris. Nelson has performed and recording with twice Grammy nominated pianist Hector Martignon, Grammy-winning bassist John Benitez, Samuel Torres, Luis Bonilla, Alfredo De La Fe, Adela Dalto. Nelson an active teacher has been on the guitar faculty at the 92nd Street Y School of Music since 2005 and as a Teaching Artist for the 92nd Street Y Outreach program.

Nelson a guitarist, composer and vocalist just released his first CD titled 'Camino Al Barrio" It features some great musicians based in NYC. Hector Martignon, Armando Gola, Ernesto Simpson, Samuel Torres. As well as special guests, Christos Rafalides on vibes and Andres Garcia on 12-string Colombian Tiple.

"The reason that I wanted to record this CD came from my desire to have people listen to and experience the music that I had written throughout my time living in the different New York City boroughs’. I had played this music with many great musicians around the city. The final stops of my path were written in the last ‘hood’, which was East Harlem ‘El Barrio’. I heard many inspiring sounds in my 4 years living there, and for this reason I called this CD “Camino al Barrio"