Bassist Juan Manuel Bayón has helped shape the sound of contemporary Argentinian jazz with Kuai Records. As well as recording his own music, he has kept himself busy running one of the most exciting new labels in modern jazz.
However, his third album as a leader, Vidas Simples, is a brief departure from his association with Kuai as Bayon joins the roster of Matthew Golombisky's ears&eyes records. In many ways, it is a perfect match that underlines the global nature of today's jazz scene. Both Golombisky and Bayon live in Buenos Aires and their labels have an open approach to jazz. They release albums that are both experimental and accessible and they also share an ethos of collective thinking and a flair for digital distribution.
Vidas Simples finds Bayon building on the sound that has been defined by those two labels, but it is also Bayon's own statement. While he is formally the leader of the session, the album is not a soloist's expression, but rather about creating complex forms that are also catchy. When Bayon indulges himself with a solo on the ironically titled "Ego," it is a rare place in the spotlight and even the knotty branches of his solo are more about creating a moving soundscape than showing instrumental chops.
The line-up supplements the core of a piano trio with saxophone and vibraphone and takes advantage of the possibility of playing with different musical voices. The opening track, "Cumbia De Gambartes," combines an in-the-pocket groove with odd time signatures, free passages and a skewed, spiraling theme with beautiful bell-like harmonies.
As well as creating dense textures and strange time signatures, Bayon's compositions can whisper softly, as on "Aural" with Santiago Leibson's sensitive piano patterns, gentle brushes from drummer Sergio Verdinelli and Diego Urbano's dreamy vibraphone splashes. Saxophonist Lucas Goicoechea is the storyteller whose lines unfold with patience and clarity.
The success of Vidas Simples is that it is not only the fulfillment of a modern jazz sound meant for this age, but a music that is genuinely concerned with telling musical stories. There is nothing simple about Bayon's compositions as the title might suggest, but he is able to pare down his music to the essentials.
Cumbia de Gambartes; Pausa; Aural; Rupturas; Ego; La vida simple; Fortaleza.
Lucas Goicoechea: alto sax; Diego Urbano: vibraphone; Santiago Leibson: piano; Juan Bayon: double bass;
Sergio Verdinelli: drums.
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