Review written by: Raul da Gama
The abject beauty of bassist Pedro Giraudo’s album Cordoba is contained in its pastoral imagery and in the refinement of the rustic rhythms that dance and sing with elevating swagger. However, there are many times—especially in the extended suite, “Pueblo”—when the exquisiteness of the music is extant in the very nostalgic ache that sustains it. The music then thrives in richness of texture and in its myriad timbres in the joy and sorrow; gravity or flippancy of a passage through a land teeming with the simple, beautiful life. In fact Giraudo need do no more than cast a proverbial mirror on this land he so loves and transcribe the images that he sees there onto the landscape of music. This he does with the mastery of a painter daubing his canvas with a palette of sound.
It is amazing how this composer can transform a small ensemble into a pseudo-large one. The magic that lies within is to seek the depth of colours in the spectrum of each instrument and then reach for the hidden colours and textures that lie within the rhythm of the melodies and in the anteroom of the colours. Waving his artist’s wand—in this case, the bow of his bass violin—Giraudo wakes up a hidden spectral dimension so everything that speaks the legends and talks of his beloved land is transformed into musical notation. The growling baritone saxophone, the honking and vibrating tenor and alto; the wild screeches of trumpet and the “blatty” mumbling of trombone play in multiple counterpoint (especially in “Pueblo – Parte III”) follow the rough and tumble of percussion and they in turn are followed by a tinkling piano stretch that is whispered barely above the grumbling of Giraudo’s bass in this part of the suite.
Giraudo also mixes tonalities. Flitting carelessly between carious scales in the tonic system, the composer has invited the musicians to explore the sub-harmonic and various atonal systems as well towards the end of his epic suite. And pianist Jess Jurkovic treads ever so softly here as he brings the music to a close almost as if he is afraid to disturb the elders, whose ghosts inhabit the soil of the land. Rhythmic adventure is another brilliant aspect of this album and here Giraudo brings the full weight of his ingenuity to mix idioms with sophistication and flair. And all of this swirls in the resounding music and dance of the earth: in the “chacarera” (“Visitas”) and the joropo-like swagger of “Duende del Mate” and the graceful waltz-like pirouettes of “A la Escuela”. In each case, the composer and his musicians show sensitive understanding of delicate rhythms.
This is a gigantic ensemble project, musically, as its success depends on the narrative of its performance, but for Pedro Giraudo, it is something more; a transformative odyssey of his Argentinean soul.
Track Listing: 1. Visitas; 2. Pueblo – Parte I; 3. Pueblo – Parte II; 4. Pueblo – Parte III; 5. Sol Naciente; 6. Duende Del Mate; 7. A la Escuela; 8. Latente.
Personnel: Will Vinson: alto and soprano saxophones, flute; Todd Bashore: alto saxophone, flute; Luke Batson: tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute; Carl Maraghi: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Jonathan Powell: trumpet; Tatum Greenblatt: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ryan Kaberle: trombone; Mike Fahie: trombone; Jess Jurkovic: piano; Jeff Davis: drum set. Tony de Vivo: cajon; Pedro Giraudo: acoustic and electric basses, compositions and arrangements.
Related links: Pedro Giraudo on the web: www.pedrogiraudo.com