Featured Album · Editor’s Pick
Pedro Giraudo’s purposeful, imaginative and inventive music has rightly gained its own following, which his Big Band’s performance of Cuentos, an album revolving around a four-part suite, is doing much to consolidate. This sixth album returns us to Mr. Giraudo’s large ensemble. It is a spectacular record. There is nothing tentative or, on the other hand, exaggeratedly flamboyant about these late works. Partly, no doubt, this is because they were preceded by the six albums in the Argentinean vein. Beside certain of his Argentinean contemporaries, the sound world is decidedly big and bold and unapologetically so, because the music radiates a sense of purpose and goal directedness that brings its own rewards. The particular works on this disc strike me as being real bullseyes as they hit home with candour and a certain grandiosity that is not necessarily a bad thing here.
The influences Pedro Giraudo declares in respect to this album come as much from Berg and Schonberg as they do from Piazzolla and Ziegler. But his quotations are from neither of the above; rather they come from the folk idioms of his beloved Argentina. The centrepiece of the album is so integrated that it jumped out at me on the third hearing, less owing to its complexity than with my inattention to its wealth of detail and ideas surrounding it. It is in this very complexity and detail that whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. That is, the 24 minutes and 22 seconds of suite feels as heavyweight as any of his previous music, only grander in its depth and substance.
As you would expect, the music is unfailingly elegant, urbane and enjoyable. It is as substantial and interesting as Pedro Giraudo suggests in his notes. This impression (wholly mine) is in part down to the performances, which are sophisticated and absolutely virtuoso. The brasses are brazen and the woodwinds are splendidly lush, and Pedro Giraudo’s melismatic playing is quite spectacular. Mr. Giraudo has emerged as one of the finest bass players of his generation and also one of its most self-effacing. He is full of innovation and vaunted creativity—restless and rhapsodic. Still he manages to fly well under the radar. Perhaps this is due in part to the fact that he seems to prefer being a composer first and an instrumentalist next. But as a result he pays close attention to musicianship rather than showmanship. His music, therefore, is dappled with folk-like melodies evocative of the Argentina that he so loves and enlivened by engaging irregular metres.
The central composition—the “Angela Suite”—is daring, scored with genius and as a result is utterly memorable. There is nothing missing here, even for listeners wholly familiar with his previous work and his orchestral vision. The narratives—and we are talking storytelling of the highest order here—are recounted with remarkable immediacy, with every detail caught in the vivid, articulate and at times witty playing of the members of this fluent orchestra. The recording is superb, wonderfully clear and immediate. It captures the lithe and agile performances of members of the Pedro Giraudo Big Band cleanly and gives a strong sense of Mr. Giraudo’s musical profile, and bode well for future recordings by this worthy ensemble.
Track List: Muñeca; Angela Suite – Part 1: Overture; Part 2: Ojos que no ven; Part 3: La Rabiosa; Part 4: Coda; La Ley Primera; El Cuento que te Cuento; Push Gift; Nube.
Personnel: Alejandro Aviles: alto and soprano saxophones, and flute; Todd Bashore: alto and soprano saxophones, and flute; Luke Batson: tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet; John Ellis: tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet; Carl Maraghi: baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; Jonathan Powell: trumpet and flugelhorn; Miki Hirose: trumpet and flugelhorn; Mat Jodrell: trumpet and flugelhorn; Josh Deutsch: trumpet and flugelhorn; Ryan Keberle: trombone; Mike Fahie: trombone; Mark Miller: trombone; Nate Mayland: trombone; Jess Jurkovic: piano; Franco Pinna: drums; Paulo Stagnaro: percussion; Claudio Ragazzi: guest guitarist (7, 8); Pedro Giraudo: acoustic and electric basses.
Released – 2015
Label – ZOHO Music
Runtime – 1:02:04