The records of the quarantine: A jazz scene that confirms its vitality

The proposals of Ernesto Jodos, Camila Nebbia, Guillermo Bazzola, Julia Sanjurjo, Sebastián Loiácono, Leo Genovese and Magalí Fernández reflect the wide stylistic arc of a fertile local scene.
November 20, 2020

Despite the prolonged quarantine, the fertile local jazz scene did not stop and a wave of fresh record productions emerged over the months as a confirmation of a pandemic-proof vitality. Indeed, the pianists Ernesto Jodos and Leo Genovese, the saxophonists Sebastián Loiácono and Camila Nebbia, the singers Julia Sanjurjo and Magalí Fernández and the guitarist Guillermo Bazzola propose us not only original music but also a stylistic arc as varied as it is interesting.

Ernest Jodos He has a career of more than 20 years with excellent works that place him as one of the most daring and talented pianists in Argentine music and that made him one of the gurus of jazz. "Archives Vol 1 and 2", released last October, it is made up of recordings that were on hold until they were able to see the light and that reveal the nuances of this artist in relation to the trio. Indeed, released by the ear & eyes records label, the two albums recorded at different times allow us to recognize the nuances that he proposes in his musical development with identical formations. Volume 1, “Earlier Trips”, with Matt Pavolka on double bass and Jeff Hirschfield on drums and with saxophonist Donny McCaslin as guest on three songs, recorded in New York, shows a fluid integration in which the dialogues of the pianist with Pavolka stand out. The trio transmits a relaxed solidity enriched by that close relationship between piano and double bass that they maintain throughout the album in which both subtlety and mystery are central aspects of the music. The repertoire includes the classics I Hear A Rhapsody and Out Of Nowhere, such as the original songs “El espino” and “Gotas arrítmicas”, by Enrique Norris.

Volume 2, “Um Viaggio”, Jodos on piano, Hernán Merlo on double bass and Eloy Michelini on drums, is a 2007 recording with the same trio that recorded the music of Lennie Tristano (2007). Here the proposal is different since the group had a lot of filming and it is perceived in the ease of the improvisations. The trio at times sounds almost acrobatic, although the leadership of Jodos is notorious there is a dominant collective force and that is transmitted through more audacious or less disciplined solos, to say the least. The slow version of Monk's classic Epistrophy is excellent and the linear development of “A Journey” evidences an incisive combo with his own ideas and a common language. On both albums there is a version of “El Donny, a blues in half time with an intro with a distant Monkian tone; while in Volume 1, McCaslin brings an intense melodism, in Volume 2, the version sounds stronger.

The first album as the leader of the tenor saxophonist Sebastian Loiácono, “Happy Reunion”, released by Rivorecords, is mature and stimulating swing; Together with musicians from the New York scene, he achieved a balanced work with a modern aesthetic in which simplicity acquires the art form. Harold Danko on piano, Jay Anderson on double bass, Jeff Hirschfield on drums and tenor saxophonist Rich Perry and trumpeter Mariano Loiácono as guests are the ideal companions for this saxophonist who developed a coherent and emotional personal style from a wide range of influences. . The album has no weak points but the highlights are “Up Jumped Spring”, by Freddy Hubbard, “Smog Eyes”, by Ted Brown and Tidal Breeze, by Danko.

Live on mechanical string. CD
En vivo en Cuerda Mecánica

The proposal of the trio composed by the singer Julia Sanjurjo with Valentín Garvie on trumpet and Nataniel Edelman on piano is one of the pleasant surprises of this year marked by the confinement. “En vivo en Cuerda Mecánica”, published independently, is a project with an exploratory spirit but developed with a serious and creative look at the five classics that are addressed in this work recorded live at the Cuerda Mecánica Cultural Center. A risky artistic setting in which improvisation plays a predominant role but from a solid, thoughtful place of interaction that manages to highlight without the need for excesses the quality of Sanjurjo as an excellent singer, of Garvie on trumpet and Edelman on piano. . Each of the songs achieves its own expressiveness, among them we highlight the versions of “Night and Day”, “Prelude To A Kiss” and a superb “For All We Now”.

"Lost and Found" (Some Thoughts on Kenny Wheeler), from the independent label Gnu Town, is a tribute to the guitarist Guillermo Bazzola to the Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, in which he is accompanied by Rodrigo Domínguez and Natalio Sued on saxophones, Jerónimo Carmona on double bass and Hernán Mandelman on drums. A group that shares a common language and is clearly perceived in the fluid interaction of the group. Bazzola, based in Madrid since 2002, reveals an open and mature artistic stance; His compositions could be thought to be directly related to the individualities of the musicians that make up this quintet. Balanced compositions with a neoclassical tone in their development from a clearly defined thematic process that is interesting both for the interpretive contrasts of the saxophonists and the guitarists and for the elegance of the melodies. A conceptual album in which we can highlight “Eternal Rain”, for its twilight tone, “Lost and Found”, with a delicate introduction by the guitarist and “KW”.

One of the revelations of this very particular year is the tenor saxophonist and composer Camila Nebbia, a bold artist. As clarinetist Ben Goldberg defined it: “Camila Nebbia's music is strong and it's true”; That struggle between complacency and progressivism that jazz has always had has no place in the work of this saxophonist. “Aura”, from the ear & eyes records label, is a rare and enriching recording, released in August, on tentet, and that we could place as contemporary creative music, in this case, a close relative of Free Jazz, healthy, powerful. Original music, composed by the saxophonist with a free collective spirit that requires a central feeling, conviction and by the way, this ensemble has it. His expressiveness sounds committed to composition and that is an inestimable value. The group, which has Valentín Garvie on trumpet, Ingrid Feninger on alto sax and claron, Damián Volotín on violin, Violeta García on cello, Juan Bayón on double bass and Mariano Sarra on piano, among others, achieves concrete communication, broad expressiveness that can become exciting or dissolve in a serene atmosphere. Music with theatricality. In "The Disintegration", Nebbia attacks a solo in the best free style that ends with harsh squawks that sound like revulsion and commitment as in "On the side of the river", where the winds develop a stimulating Ornettian arrangement. “Aura” is a work that puts Nebbia in a prominent place on the local jazz scene

At the end of November, Nebbia released “In Another Night, In Another World”, also on the ear & eyes label, with Maya Keren on piano and voice and Akiva Jacobs on double bass, a work recorded in December 2019 with four compositions that are a valuable Snapshot of this saxophonist who enrolled in free jazz shows an interesting ductility. "Trastornated" and "Alas rotas" are examples of his interpretive quality as well as his permanent search for new spaces.

"Don't Get Scared", independent production of the singer Magali Fernandez it has a tour of some classics and not so much; She is an interesting performer with a fresh voice, soft swinging and a crystalline timbre; its measure of expressiveness conveys feeling. With it, a reliable quartet appears with Mariano Loiácono on trumpet and conducting, Pablo Raposo on piano, Jerónimo Carmona and Alejandro Bellman on drums, a group with experience and arrangements that managed to give each song a unique color. The song that gives the album its name stands out, a modest version of “Moon River” and “By Myself”.

“Sin tiempo”, by ear & eyes records, is a work by the pianist from Santa Fe Leo Genovese, based in New York, with Mariano Otero on double bass and Sergio Verdinelli on drums. A proposal that runs through different atmospheres and emotions, at times intense, at others, serene. The essence is the improvisation in which the trio feels, obviously comfortable; unattached develops an uneven topography, with breaks and densities from which a dense groove flourishes. The architecture of the compositions rests on the collective work and on some themes, such as “Blues” or “Eastwood”, through explorations of free form, the pianist transmits a powerful expressiveness.

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