Larry Ortega - Chicago, IL

Larry Ortega - Chicago, ILLarry Ortega - A Musical Experience
By Pat Ferris

The search of a good band to review isn't always easy. You not only need to be in "in the mood" for the type of music you're hearing at that particular time, but you have to sift through an ocean of music, lyrics, photos, emails and other promotional items sent us on a regular basis. Trying to catch all corners of the world on a website is also part of the game. Being from Seattle makes Seattle based bands a little top-heavy on our site, but I try to get a good mix from different parts of the World.

Seeing that we've had few reviews from Chicago, I was searching Chicago bands linked with us and came across a real gem. Something that is different enough that it could fit into several categories as well as have an appeal for anybody that likes quality music.

Meet Larry Ortega, drummer, composer, arranger......artist. His official homepage   was one of the better designed websites I've seen, and gave a real professional impression. A summary of Larry comes from his bio page on his website:

Larry has been involved with music since his high school years and professionally since the mid 70's. His early years were influenced by the music of Big Band Jazz greats such as Buddy Rich, Louie Belson, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. He also studied drums privately while his love of music enticed him to teach himself percussion, mallets, keyboards and even a little trumpet and baritone.

During his high school years Larry performed and won many local competitions while also performing with the Illinois All State Concert and Jazz Bands. Among the various musical awards he received was an outstanding drum soloist award at the Illinois Elmhurst College Mid-West Jazz Festival. He was also involved with the Guardsmen Drum and Bugle Corps. The Guardsmen, from Schaumburg, Illinois, made the Drum Corps. International Finals which were aired on national television.
Super Percussion Man
After high school he attended Illinois Joliet Junior College studying music theory, drums, percussion and keyboards.

Larry's performance background is quite diverse and includes numerous bands, most from the Chicago area. Among these bands are the "Wolfpack" guitar ensemble (see article in Guitar Player Magazine, Oct.'89), oldies rock groups "The Buckinghams", the "Shadows of Night" and "The Crests", the "John Watkins Group" (rhythm section from the famous blues group "James Cotton Band", the "Joanna Connor Band" which toured Europe, Japan and South America, "Luther Allison" (the late great R & B guitarist from Chicago), "Screaming Jay Hawkins" and "Wild T and The Spirit" (former guitarist with David Bowie on the "Black Tie, White Noise" album.

Currently Larry's love of music and creativity has him working on several Original projects ranging from World Music, Rock, Metal, Dance, Funk and Jazz. All in all Larry's music speaks for itself. His dream is to reach a standard of composing, performing, and relating himself through music so that everyone listening will enjoy it as much as Larry enjoys creating it!

The links on his homepage for his MP3's were down at the time that I tried them, but I found my way to his site  and took a listen to all of the downloads on his page. Each was a real adventure...taking my mind to places and creating vivid "audio images". Everything from STOMP type percussion tracks (Stompin' Stew) to fusion jazz and movie soundtracks (More Than Meets The Eye), were here creating a complete musical experience!

All instruments were played by Larry, and his brilliant arrangments kept me on edge as I wrote this review. It has EVERYTHING from Asian and African influences (and sound samples) to Waltz's and Drumming.  His music is a real compliment to anybody's music collection, and I'm looking forward to more releases.