...local straightaheaders, the Edmund Velasco Sextet are serendipitous midweek. Downbeat
The Edmund Velasco Quintet drives hard bop main stream with class. Their second album, all originals, captures a traditional essence while remaining fresh. The tenor saxophonist and his front line partner, trumpeter Kye Palmer, hand out classic lines as many have done before them these past 50 years. The hard bop instrumentation makes a fine vehicle for mainsteam jazz because of its history. But its the quality of their music that counts, and Velasco’s unit carries on that tradition well.
...the quintet’s members read each other’s cues with precision and produce the desired result.
Jim Santella, All About Jazz
Edmund Velasco is a conspicuous not only a leader of his own band, but as a featured saxophonist with The Estrada Brothers Latin Jazz Band. Here, we deal with him and his quintet on his new CD, Smooke Rises ( Gemtone Records-www.gemtone.com). Velasco and company entertain us with eight tracks of original songs which are a treat to the ears, and done to perfection by Velasco, mostly on tenor sax, with Mark Massey, piano, Kye Palmer, trumpet, Jimmy Ford, drums, Steve Venz, bass, trombonist Roger Bissell on “Revenge of the Red Band” and percussionist Ron Bruner working on Fight Night and “Wendy”. Velasco is the composer of all the tunes except “A Sad Case” by bassist Venz. the CD opens optimistically with “A New Start”, goes sweet and tender in composer Velasco’s song, “Wendy” dedicated to his wife, on which he does his solo turn on the soprano sa; ups the tempo with “Revenge of the Red Band” and switches to mellow with “A Sad Case”. Then it’s the tune, “For Bob”, the ballad-paced “”Smoke Rises at Midnight” and concludes at a fast pace with Velasco’s tenor solo and Massey’s piano work on “My Muse”.
There is an abundance of fine solos by the musicians throughout. It’s an easy-on-the-ears CD made for relaxing listening, and is a credit to its composers and players.
Bob Agnew, L.A.Jazz Scene, January 2004