Rivorecords: Blue Notes from Buenos Aires
Goodbye: Solo Piano
Another solo piano session on Rivorecords is Goodbye by Adrián Iaies. While not as eclectic and fiery as Lightsey, Iaies concentrates on conjuring a pensive mood, but there's still plenty of room for sunshine when he gives a playful version of the standard "When You're Smiling" with lines full of light, sudden stops and abrupt turns.
Iaies greatest strength is his clarity of tone, which truly shines on the Fazioli piano praised by Justo Lo Prete. His improvisations are a joy to follow as he teases out melodies with bell-like clarity and emotional depth. He is a man completely in tune with his instrument. This is also underlined in the beautiful foldout photography that adorns the interior of the album. A close-up of the piano strings resembles an ancient harp and Iaies is just like a poet who plays his "lyre" with poise. On this album, he is not an epic improviser. Most of the pieces clock in at well under five minutes, but he has the ability to make the music short and profound.
Many of the compositions on the album are associated with Frank Sinatra and one of his most prominent arrangers, Gordon Jenkins, provides the title track whose sweeping harmonic landscape, imbued with bittersweet nostalgia, is a suitable way to end the session.
Recently, Justo Lo Prete has taken a liking to solo piano recordings, and with a solo record by pianist Paula Shocron in the pipeline, that passion is guaranteed to continue, but he also has a soft spot for piano trios and with Ernesto Jodos' trio, he has recorded one of the best.
Pianist Jodos is one of the most prominent figures on the jazz scene in Buenos Aires and has won numerous awards and played with the likes of Billy Harper, Chris Cheek and Ingrid Jensen. He is also the director of the jazz program at Superior Conservatory of Music Manuel de Falla.
All these accolades aside, what really comes across on Light Blue, his record with bassist Jerónimo Carmona and drummer Pepi Taveira, is the unspoiled joy of playing music together. Like the title implies, the touch is light and swinging, but with a shade of blue.
Strong, but lesser known gems from Charlie Parker ("Dewey Square") and Thelonious Monk ("Light Blue") sit well next to tried and true standards like "Wrap Your Troubles In dreams" which is played in an unconventional version where the piano at times sounds like a gong from an ancient temple. It is also refreshing that the rarely heard pianist-composer Herbie Nichols is dug out on an elegant interpretation of "Step Tempest" where Nichols' composition benefits from the light swinging touch of a trio that could be described as playful modernists.
Francisco Lo Vuolo
Pianist Francisco Lo Vuolo isn't as well-known as Ernesto Jodos or Paula Shocron, two of the label's most prominent musicians, but he is a rising star that Lo Prete believes is one of the greatest jazz piano talents in Argentina.
Segment, his trio album with bassist Cristian Bortoli and drummer Eloy Michelini, offers ample proof of Lo Vuolo's skill as an improviser, interpreter and leader. His idiosyncratic versions of old warhorses like "Yesterdays" and "My Funny Valentine" are nothing less than stunning.
Those familiar with Ben Webster's tender reading of Jerome Kern's ballad might be surprised when they hear his up-tempo version that brings in a fountain of melodic ideas in the middle of an infectious groove driven by Michelini's dynamic playing on the ride cymbals.
Vuolo's solo piano exploration of "My Funny Valentine," which closes the set, isn't as controversial as his take on "Yesterdays," but it adds some interesting harmonies and finds its way into the emotional core of the tune where a fragile beauty is allowed to blossom.
The strength of Segment isn't only that it finds a poignant urgency in melodies that have been played many times, but it also digs out some lesser known jewels like the title track, a free-wheeling bop-groove penned by Charlie Parker, and the swinging elegance of "Local 47" that highlights the compositional skills of unsung saxophonist Warne Marsh.
Whether exploring well-trodden pathways or the roads less travelled, Segment shines with true musicality and improvisational adventurousness. It's only a matter of time before Lo Vuolo will be part of the big league.
Pianist Paula Shocron has taken lessons with Ernesto Jodos and she shares his elegantly swinging touch, but has developed her own voice and her natural musicality can be enjoyed on Our Delight, her first trio outing on Rivorecords.