Joaju Cuarteto: Ahoraite

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Few recordings that have come out of the pen of (and performances by) Paraguayan musicians have captured the frenetic effervescence of Ahoraite by the Joaju Cuarteto. This is a small ensemble fronted by the drummer Víctor S. Morel, who is flanked by the powerful sound of contrabassist Miguel Antar and pianist Giovanni Primerano. The two rhythmists feed off the beautifully-articulated and inflected harmonics of Mr Primerano’s pianism and join forced to unleash the music’s melodicism through saxophonist Bruno Muñoz. The result is music predominantly born of the Paraguayan polka, but in a new idiom that combines other traditional and modern Paraguayan dance forms in a molten mix, and letting all of this loose in the breathtaking spiky rebarbative idiom of Afro-American Jazz.

But this recording is memorable for much more than just a simple proficiency in local traditions and a conservatory-earned education in the fundamentals of Jazz conception. The technical mastery of these musicians is much more enjoyable because it is displayed at the highest level with profound insight into the heart and soul of the music that they seem to live and breathe. The four-way dialogue that ensues is always carefully shaped and fully responsive to the subtle nuances in the soloists’ phrasing. At times this comes in the form of supporting the pianists’ solo flight with a simple walking bass-line support, with Mr Morel playing deep in the pocket on “Ra Jeet A”, of instance. But this could also change with the drummer and bassist making things more lively and complex (on “Patiño Rape”, for instance), creating an environment for Mr Muñoz to shine.

When the spotlight is handed over to Mr Morel and his bassist Mr Antar, however, the searing beauty of the musicianship of these Paraguayan musicians becomes front and centre. Then, tempos flow and dance and drummer and bassist are heard in their element with flowing or leaping tempi as the music demands. At the same time in music such as “Toviru Rekove” restlessness and vivacity of the musicians bubble to the surface making for climactic moments especially as the music races onwards to its finale. The stunning negotiation of complex dramatic musical narratives such as in “Reservista Purahei” make for exquisite listening as the mood of the pieces darkens and gets more profoundly beautiful as Mr Muñoz begins to conjure the ghost of ‘Trane most vividly, albeit in a different (South American) setting.

Best of all, these musicians deploy the widest possible range of colour, dynamics and articulation through the surprising variety of form and content in these eight originals. They also bring a vivid degree of emotion to this music that even while tapping into roots for inspiration, remains fresh even as it uses musical forms that have remained unchanged for a very long time.

Track list – 1: Coronel Martinez; 2: La Jornada; 3: Patiño Rape; 4: Po; 5: Ra Jeet A; 6: Toviru Rekove; 7: Reservista Purahei; 8: Principicio

Personnel – Víctor S. Morel: drums and arrangements (2); Miguel Antar: contrabass; Giovanni Primerano: piano, compositions and arrangements (1, 2, 6, 7); Bruno Muñoz: tenor and soprano saxophones, compositions and artistic and executive production

Released – 2018
Label – Planea Música
Runtime – 55:13

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