The ears&eyes label has recently released a pair of albums that provide evidence of a vibrant and interesting jazz scene in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Trumpeter Sebastián Greschuk‘s Paisaje is a quartet recording that features Nicolas Boccanera on piano and Fender Rhodes; Sebastián de Urquiza on upright bass, and Matias Crouzeilles on drums. His own playing has the fluidity of Clifford Brown or Donald Byrd, but the compositions and the band’s performances mix classic hard bop dynamics with more modern, less predictable moves. It’s easy to tell they’ve been listening to players of their own generation like Aaron Parks or Ambrose Akinmusire. The album kicks off with “Lluvia Eterna,” a shimmering ballad that tumbles into place like blocks falling off a shelf and magically assembling themselves into a multi-tiered castle. Crouzeilles’ beat is loose and boxy, but still swinging, and Greschuk’s phrases come out with a thoughtful but emphatic energy, as Boccanera and de Urquiza thump and clang behind him. There’s a pleasing roughness to the music, as though they don’t want to let things get too slick, but still want to show what they can do.

Drummer Axel Filip‘s El Equilibrio Secreto de las Cosas also features Greschuk on trumpet, alongside Camila Nebbia on tenor saxophone, Boccanera on piano, Juan Bayon on bass, and vocalist Mariana Iturri singing and reciting Filip’s lyrics and poetry. Iturri avoids the stylistic clichés of most jazz singers; her voice has a girlish affect that recalls Mexican art-pop vocalist Natalia Lafourcade. On “El Olvido,” she and Greschuk work their way through the melody in unison, before he takes off on a fierce, high-flying solo. “Débiles Operaciónes del Sueño,” the next track, is a gentle ballad on which Boccanera and Bayon take the spotlight; the bassist delivers a tender solo immediately after Iturri’s first verse, bringing the music gently back down to earth like someone reeling in a kite. Other tracks incorporate uptempo, almost manic Latin rhythms, and subtle sounds drawn from the world of non-idiomatic improvisation.

These albums share personnel, but they’re very different in both concept and execution. Still, anyone with an interest in seeing just how far the language of jazz has spread, and what people are doing with it, should definitely hear both.

Phil Freeman


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