Buenos Aires Jazz: happiness despite everything

Although there were only two face-to-face concerts, the meeting satisfied the organizers and the public, with a varied and high-quality program.
November 30, 2020
Julia Sanjurjo. BA 2020
Julia Sanjurjo, one of the artists who shone at the festival. 

Although the experience of following the concerts through a screen was far from the festive vertigo that produced having to rush from one room to another, exchange brief impressions with acquaintances and strangers, have a beer in a hurry, throw the pucho for half because the next concert is over to settle in an armchair listening to those healthy coughs of his own and others, the musical density and the coherence of the programming gave the 2020 edition of the Buenos Aires Jazz festival air. Limited by socio-sanitary emergencies to two days of activities -Saturday and Sunday- and except two outdoor concerts, forced to tip over into the recording container to get through the streaming, the largest jazz gathering in the country left a certain feeling of happiness.

In principle in the organizers, who managed to reach a wide audience, with a programming varied, novel and more than interesting. And also in the average jazz player for whom the "here and now" is usually an essential certificate of authenticity, who although he could not perform his jazzera Eucharist in his body, at least he had some stamps, as if to get up to speed on what it sounds like. by these beaches in the name of jazz. The central segment of the concerts, filmed in the Auditorium of the Usina del Arte, with several cameras, with good sound, and above all with a very good artistic level, could be followed by the platform “Vivamos cultura”, where they are still and can be viewed for free. Two trios, the one with the pianist Nataniel edelman and that of the singer Julia Sanjurjo, stood out in a program that highlighted new expressions of local jazz and culminated on Sunday with the concert of the notable Italian pianist Danilo Rea and the young man's choice Leo Benitez as the winner in the first National Contest for jazz singers.

Nataniel Edelman Threesome
Nataniel Edelman Trio.

Edelman's, on Saturday afternoon, was the first concert in the series. Along with Sergio Vedinelli on drums and Santiago Lamisovski on double bass, the pianist displayed a very composed and splendidly played jazz, which left careful spaces for development and that, beyond the solo moment of improvisation, favored the tight dialogue between the parties. Although the personal melodic paths of songs like “Mudanzas” and “Frutitos” proposed a more classical energy in terms of swing, others like “Brizna” and “Ecos” marked very suggestive climates, in which the harmonic hesitation became tenuous. support of enchanting landscapes, almost immobile, on which the soloists built a polyphony of brief gestures.

Edelman was also the pianist for Julia Sanjurjo, who opened the sets on Sunday. With a personal version of "Jitterbug waltz" by Fats waller, the singer set in motion the trio that was completed by the notable Valentín Garvie on trumpets. Threaded in textures that, rather than accompany the subject, question it and embrace it from a distance, Sanjurjo's voice is one more instrument in the trio's dynamics. Or even more, it is a temperament that balances the songs that he chooses, which, without coming to revere them, he respects the melodic air. Edelman proposes harmonic routes in which Garvie always finds the most expressive notes, while Sanjurjo sings in an opaque voice, capable of closing in shadows or opening in glows, and his swing shoots in different directions –even inwards–, looking for the right word. .

After “All the thinks you are” and “Night and day”, it seemed that with the version of “Time rememered”, by Bill evans, the best of the night had come. Until the trio tightened the rhythmic universe of Thelonious Monk with a formidable version of “Played twice” and ended with “For all we know”, a ballad of languor, with long and chilling solos.

Also María Laura Antonelli showed her own brilliance, on his solopiano on Saturday. Within a style in which Osvaldo Pugliese dialogues with Bela Bartok, Antonelli alternated improvisations and themes from his remarkable album Argentinian. His music starts from a dense pianism and, in the same way that his compositions reflect the gesture of improvisation, his improvisations are ordered from an implacable sense of form. Sunday's solopiano was in charge of Nicolas Boccanera. A pianist with a formidable technique and generous ideas, Boccanera played his own music and that of Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk, two influences from which those personal harmonic paths descended that he knew how to travel with an attractive rhythmic sense.

The saxophonist Fito Nicolau, leading a solid quartet, made up of Leandro García de la Maza on piano, Flavio Romero on double bass and Fernando Moreno on drums, closed Saturday's programming. After showing their own music and group dynamics that balanced dialogue and solo excursions, the quartet concluded their set with Kenny Barron's “Voyage”. A whole statement of principles, which largely explained what had been heard before. On Sunday, Rocío Giménez López closed the local segment with another good sample of the art of the trio. Along with Francisco Martí on drums and Fermín Suárez on double bass, the pianist from Rosario also used subtle touches of electronics to propose her own music, as well as a version of “Futebol”, by Chico Buarque.

At the closing of the festival, the Italian Institute of Culture of Buenos Aires, broadcast on its YouTube channel the concert that Danilo Rea recorded for the Buenos Aires Jazz 2020 at the Parco de la Musica in Rome. A pianist with an excessive fantasy, Rea offered one of her extensive sets that range from a song by Fabrizio De André to an aria by Puccini. With a complex instrumental language, he aimed at amazement with a formidable technique and struck sentimental fibers by elaborating endearing melodies.

It was a good closing for a different edition of Buenos Aires Jazz. That although he had two concerts "of flesh and blood" - on Saturday with the singer Georgina Díaz and the guitarist Rodrigo Agudelo in the gardens of the Larreta Museum and on Sunday with the Big Band of the Manuel De Falla Conservatory in Parque Centenario - part of their activity on screens to sustain a significant presence in an uncertain panorama, waiting for life to resume its rhythm and music to once again be the experience of the senses and the reasons that begins in the physical presence.

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