Argentine pianist and composer Marco Sanguinetti had established a solid and unique style with his solo effort Improvisiones (MDR, 2005). His penchant for emphasizing percussive effects and recurring variations of phrases are elements that he has consistently employed in his recordings. With El otro (Acqua, 2011) he placed a stronger prominence on lyricism while maintaining a high-density attack. Taking his skills to a new level is what 8 is about and Sanguinetti raises the bar adding stratums of texture, multiple influences and styles without prolixity.
The title 8 comes from both the number of tracks and eight related graphic designs from Argentinian artist Leandro Castelao. Castelao spent months rendering this stunning cross-media representation Sanguinetti's original compositions and it speaks to the overall artistic integrity that has gone into every aspect of 8. These multi-media projects are a regular facet of Sanguinetti's aesthetic process as he has a long involvement with audiovisual projects, dance and theater.
Opening with the pulsating "Cuchillo" Sanguinetti immediately restates his preferred technique of using the piano as a percussion instrument. Drummer Fermin Merlo sweeps in bassist Jeronimo Carmona and cellist Leila Chero setting the stage for Sanguinetti's lead. The leader remains in the forefront into "Ruedas," a piece that captures the composer's intent to meld the urban landscape with his fast and intricate playing. The all-too-short "Camino" is extensively a trio piece and beautifully realized by Sanguinetti's folksy infusion of the harmonium. Equally striking is "La ventana" featuring a mesmerizing Spanish language vocal from Victoria Zotalis. Sanguinetti keeps the program open to freer thinking as well in pieces such as "San Telmo" with its slurred, off-kilter strings and spoken word overlay and "Claramente" where Mariano "Manza" Esain's blistering rock guitar eviscerates the preceding lyricism.
As technically gifted as Sanguinetti is, he is modest in his handling of solo time and doesn't favor pyrotechnics over composition. His distinctive vision and style are utilized to expertly lead or accompany the gifted set of musician around him as he weaves in and out of ballad, processional and open free style. 8 is full of unexpected phrasing and time changes skillfully negotiated by Sanguinetti and his highly engaged colleagues. More than in his previous outings Sanguinetti varies the dynamics and more finely articulates the group contribution. It's a successful approach and an appealing album for many diverse tastes.