Rhythm is in our body and in our blood. The heart beats and our pulse is a sign of life. Instinctively, humans have connected themselves with rhythm from early days until the present. Just think of ancient tribe rituals or the mechanic trance of a techno party.
Many jazz percussionists have dedicated their life to the rhythms of the body and the world. One of them is the Argentinian drummer Pablo Diaz, who has been on a journey into rhythms for a long time. Lately, this journey has culminated in the solo album Los Transitorios Presentes
(Nendo Dango Records, 2017). The album follows a proud tradition of solo drum classics like Art Blakey
's Orgy in Rhythm Vol. 1-2
(Blue Note, 1957) and Max Roach
's Drums Unlimited
(Atlantic, 1966). However, it was not carved in stone that Diaz would be a musician. As he says:
"I don't come from a musical family, but in some way, and for some reason, I needed to start with this, with music. There were some musicians in the family, some cousins, and I had an uncle who had a great stereo and a big collection of LPs, and I also had an aunt who had a piano and I spent time playing with it when I came back from the kindergarten."
At the age of thirteen, Diaz started focusing on the drums, with the unlikely inspiration coming from the rock group, The Pretenders:
"My parents bought my first drum set when I was thirteen. I had listened to The Pretenders and I don't know why I had decided I wanted a drum set. I think I wanted to make music no matter the instrument. I started to study the drum set and I got into it. I think the instrument is a tool, a vehicle through which one expresses oneself. I guess I needed to express myself and the drums set came into my way."
After deciding on the drums as a vehicle for expressing himself, Diaz also expanded his horizon musically and took lessons to learn more:
"I started with lessons and I knew other kinds of music, like progressive rock, fusion and jazz. At the age of seventeen I started to study with Daniel Piazzolla, the grandson of Astor. From then on I decided I wanted to make music my way of life. After that I got into a music school and I also studied with several drums masters from Argentina. At the age of twenty one I started to play with trumpetist and pianist Enrique Norris, and he changed my way of playing music, of listening to music, my view about music. I got involved with improvisation."
In the process, Diaz also listened to several albums and the first crucial jazz experience was Miles Davis
' Four & More
(Columbia, 1966): "It was the first jazz album I listened to deeply." Many albums followed since then, but Diaz is reluctant about speaking of specific sources of inspiration, including drummers:
"I don't have a good memory for these things... I'm not a fan of drummers either, I'm a fan of music. I admire musicians, artists, people who express themselves through creative ways of arts... I can't name a few, I would leave too many people out!"
At this point, Diaz is playing a type of jazz that could be connected with the free jazz tradition and it is an approach that he has developed gradually:
"It has developed through the years, absolutely... but it has always been present on me, on my search. I mean, I started to play this music seriously with Enrique Norris, who knows why I met him? But I met him. If you know Enrique, you know that he is one of the masters of free jazz and improvisation in jazz in Argentina... he's a great artist, a creative person. I developed much of my way of making music with him and since playing with him, I wanted to play music freely whether it is written music, graphic music, improvisation or experimental, and I'm looking for this feeling all the time, in music, in arts and in life. They are the same things for me."
Diaz comes from Argentina, but the heritage of his country is not a direct inspiration, although it is in his blood: "I've never been really close with folk music, but I believe that it's in my background, somewhere. Maybe in the feel, in the way of playing, in the melodies, in the rhythms of course."
The rhythms are the main thing on his new solo album Los Transitorios Presentes
. A title, Diaz explains in the following way: "It means 'the transitional today' or 'the impermanent existence.' it came from the Buddhist term impermanence, which says that all existence is transient, evanescent, inconstant."
The idea of recording a solo set had been lingering for some time and eventually Diaz just went into the studio:
"I had been thinking about it for a year approximately. Trying to find the way, researching the concept of the way to play, but I couldn't set up anything, so I decided to book a studio, go and play. And it is what I did."