Darwin Noguera - piano; Victor Garcia - trumpet, flugelhorn; Greg Ward - alto saxophone; Joshua Ramos - double bass; Juan Daniel Pastor - drums, cajón, bongo cajón; Special Guests : Ernie Adams - drums; Howard Levy - harmonica; Rocky Yera - tenor saxophone. Recorded 4/26 and 5/3/2009. Produced and engineered by Nick Eipers. REVIEWS: #13 in JazzChicago.net's Top Chicago Recordings of 2009 "... an expressive and experimental take on the Latin jazz vernacular... The music here represents a new branch on the tree of jazz... a very strong outing for Noguera and his entire ensemble - a bold and refreshing look at the Latin jazz genre from an artist who will, no doubt, continue on his musical evolution for many years to come... Ernie Adams makes incendiary appearances on three tracks... Howard Levy graces the recording with some stellar harmonica work." - Matthew Warnock, AllAboutJazz.com "As one of the city's brightest young talents, Noguera has striven to promote a modern way of thinking about Latin Jazz... an attitude... of love and respect, but also of a determination to move forward within the genre. This is serious music, but also serious fun... [Noguera and trumpeter Victor Garcia] are two of the new generation of Afro-Latin players involved in reshaping the sound of the music." - Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net "A spellbinding collection of performances that walk the line between traditional jazz, Peru, Nicaragua, and Argentina... As a pianist, Noguera emerges as a significant young voice... He shapes melodies with the intelligent musicality and lush harmonic knowledge of a classically trained musician while improvising with the fearless passion of an experienced jazz artist... Garcia appears as a fiery and commanding improviser with the poignant ability to send the rhythm section into a screaming frenzy. Ward stands as a striking contrast to Garcia, making his own personal statement with a wide range of expressive articulations and almost vocal inflections. Levy integrates the harmonica with class and style on two tracks, finding a defined spot for his unique instrument among the ensemble. Noguera and the Evolution Quintet stand tall as proud representatives of the Latin Jazz world's next generation on 'The Gardener'." - Chip Boaz, The Latin Jazz Corner "This is a solid ensemble in a contemporary, Latin tinged mode. Howard Levy guests on harmonica... and he is heard to good advantage on 'Aguas Quietas' and 'Tango Astoroid'... This is a most pleasant session with some interesting Latin flavors." - Grego Applegate Edwards, Cadence Magazine "The music mixes tricky rhythms as on 'Señor Del Pozo', and Garcia's toe-to-toe work with the leader on 'Izzy's Lullaby' is simply breathtaking. The addition of Howard Levy's harmonica, and Rocky Yera's tenor on 'Color de tu Sonrisa' just adds extra layers of butter on the torta. Great energy here." - George W. Harris, JazzWeekly.com "Darwin Noguera, a promising Nicaraguan pianist based in Chicago, leads the Evolution Quintet, whose CD 'The Gardener' is sensational jazz recording." - Nelson Rodríguez, Latin Beat "Noguera delights in combining traditional Latin forms and hard-hitting jazz, to the benefit of both idioms... From the very beginning of this irresistible recording - the spiky piano intro to 'Señor del Pozo', a Peruvian festejo - Noguera's dizzying command of both Latin and jazz idioms comes into focus. (So does his partnership with trumpeter Victor Garcia... Garcia has a unique affinity for Noguera's writing, and even after repeated hearings, it remains one of this music's indelible strengths.)... Noguera's work with the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble explains one more gift he brings to this musical banquet - his ability to condense his voluptuous and detailed big-band writing down to just these few horns, while still suggesting the depth and variety of the larger format." - Neil Tesser (from the liner notes) BIO: Nicaraguan pianist, composer, and band leader Darwin Noguera debuted with the Miami Beach Symphony Orchestra at the young age of 14, and continued his studies under the tutelage of Eteri Andjaparidze and Larry Novak at DePaul University. He has accomplished an unusual and fluid integration between classical, jazz, flamenco and Latin rhythms. Darwin is the co-founder and composer for the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble (CALJE) and also founded the Evolution Quintet. He has performed with legends such as Steve Turre, Brian Lynch, Paoli Mejias and Howard Levy and often collaborates and plays with local musicians, including Greg Ward, Jesus Enriquez and Guitars of Spain. Most recently Darwin toured his native Nicaragua with the second annual Nicaraguan International Jazz Festival and will be participating with his trio in 2009 once again. His groups regularly take part in Chicago-area festivals, the most noted performance being Millennium Park's 'Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz Series'.