A stunning new release from Argentinean bassist-composer Pedro Giraudo, whose previous album, “El Viaje” swept top honors in Latin Jazz Corner's "Best Of The Year Awards," winning 2009 Latin Jazz Album Of The Year, and Latin Jazz Large Ensemble Album Of The Year. Among the critical acclaim: “an opulent listening experience of modern, orchestral jazz, brimming with passionate improvisations, deliberate contrapuntal melodies and plush harmonies.” Downbeat
In Argentina, Córdoba is the name of both a province, and its capital city. Although I grew up in the city of Córdoba, as a child I would spend every summer with my family at a large farm in the countryside, where there was no electricity and no phone. It was there that I learned about the most basic, fundamental things of life. Surrounded by nature, I was exposed to conception, birth, sickness and death. I also learned how to make bread, churn butter, ride a horse, start a fire, and fix all sorts of things, from farm implements to household tools. Those country summers played a large part in shaping the person I am today, although I've been living in the U.S. for over 14 years and have become very much an urban person.
When I compose, I generally start with a melodic concept that I explore on guitar; the arrangements come later. Whether writing about a sunrise or an encounter, my music is informed by the essential sentimental and rhythmic elements of Argentine popular music, including the chacarera, zamba and baguala. There are also hints of the more urban Argentine tango. I think that both Argentine musical traditions and American jazz allow a broad range of emotion. For me, one of the most powerful emotions is nostalgia in the case of this album, my nostalgia for the innocence, the excitement of discovery, and the beauty of those summers spent with my family in the beautiful Córdoba countryside.
1. Visitas (Visits) Although we were isolated on our farm, we would always have guests come during weekends. There was lots of excitement: friends, plenty of meat, other children to play with in complete freedom, riding horses, building huts, and wandering through the woods. Loosely based on the chacarera rhythm, this piece is built around the motif established in the intro by the trombones, then altered throughout the piece in many shapes, lengths and timbres.
2-4. Pueblo (Village) I've always thought people who lived and worked in the fields led a very pure and healthy lifestyle, in constant contact with nature, obeying its rules, resting when it's dark, waking with the sun, detached from consumerism, their values untouched by TV and advertisements. But on occasion they would go to a nearby village to meet friends and other family members a change of pace from their daily patterns.
• Parte I is dedicated to the early morning, the purity of a new day. Musically, for me the baguala is one of the deepest emotional rhythms in Argentina, with its very slow tempo, space, rawness, and a strong sense of loneliness. The melodic motif of three repeated notes will be used later to evoke the morning and awakening also on "A La Escuela" and "Latente."
• Parte II describes the excitement, the sense of hurry, the more accelerated lifestyle of the village, as opposed to the farm. It begins with a short 3-voice fugue, and is based on a rhythm somewhat similar to the Venezuelan merengue in 5/8.
• Parte III conveys how the people from the countryside are affected by their visit to the village: a sense of darkening, getting tainted, being overwhelmed and finally resolves in their returning home and finding peace again. The darkest of the three movements, this is the most urban sounding of all three, until the resolution at its end.
5. Sol Naciente (Sun Rising) All senses are awakened by the first rays of the sun: the chirping of birds, the morning smells, a feeling of rebirth and a new beginning. For me, nothing can describe a sense of awakening better than the pure and warm sound of the trombone, gradually blending with the rest of the ensemble accelerating in tempo.
6. Duende del Mate (The Dwarf of the Mate) Mate (pronounced mah’-tay) is a bitter tea that is much loved in Argentina and neighboring countries. Its ingredients are few: mate leaves, and water. The mate is sipped from a dried gourd through una bombilla, a metal straw. I am an avid mate drinker. For no reason I can explain, on some days my mate is delicious and other days barely drinkable. So I imagine this mythical creature, the "duende" (dwarf) of the mate: if he's around, my mate will be great; if he's not, I might as well drink coffee. This playful tune is an invocation to this creature. It features the electric bass for the first time in my writing, and is arranged for a slightly smaller ensemble: there are no trombones.
7. A La Escuela (The Road To School) Dedicated to two beautiful young country girls named Milagros and Rocío, who ride a horse for an hour each way to go to school everyday. This piece imagines what could be going through their heads while riding together in silence in the early morning of the countryside. Written in 5/8, it has a lilt to it that almost resembles a waltz.
8. Latente (Dormant) As we grow up, we accumulate a wide variety of experiences and feelings. Many of these remain in a latent state, but they are always there for us, waiting to be reawakened, the way a plant lies dormant during winter to be reawakened in spring. The tenor sax opening is based on the Argentine zamba, and as the music unfolds, it incorporates elements from tango. This piece is also written for a reduced version of the full orchestra to generate a more intimate setting. As the final piece, it embodies my wish that my music has awakened some of your own latent feelings.
All music composed & arranged by Pedro Giraudo. Recorded by Alex Venguer at Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ, on May 1 and 2, 2010. Mixed by Alex Venguer. Mastered by Oscar Zambrano at Zampol Productions, NYC. Produced by Pedro Giraudo & Alex Venguer. Design by Vicky Barranguet. Cover Photo and Band Photo by Sergio Reyes. Pedro Giraudo. Portraits by Erin O’Brien. Countryside Photo by Agustín Giraudo. Executive Producers: Ellen Azorin, Cantaloupe Music Productions, and Joachim “Jochen” Becker. All music published by BMI.