Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Adrian Iaies-Vals De La 81st & Columbus

On first glance apprehension. Admittedly ashamed, I was prejudiced. For on the surface was an Argentine group, playing 'jazz', with an accordion no less! What could they possibly do with the music in this format setting? I would ask myself.

Suffice it to say, I found pianist/composer Adrian Iaies a world class virtuoso. World class with a capitol C. His compatriots Pablo Aslan, bass; Pepi Taveira, drums and Michael Zisman, a master of the bandoneon are unequalled as well. The group is augmented by the sanguine trumpet stylings of Juan Cruz De Urquiza.

Jazz Speak has become a universal language. And like the home grown variety State side, jazz round the world uses universal elements to furthers its methods. Be it a mandolin in Spain, a sitar in India, dumbeks in Northern Africa, or a taragoto of eastern Europe. Nothing, no instrumentation, save for probably piano, bass and drums is sacrosanct in jazz.

Decades ago when Astor Piazzolla introduced the bandoneon to wider audiences outside of Argentina we were aghast. His fluid mastery astounded audiences. The bandoneon's sound is less harsh than that of its big brother the accordion. It possesses a 'sweeter' sound.

Argentine native Adrian Iaies is no stranger to international audiences. Widely recognized for his deft touch and consummate command of the jazz idiom, only now American audiences are witness to this pure talent. His new Vals De La 81st & Columbus (Sunnyside), brings a lucidly responsive quartet session of warm and wondrous music.

Within his meager discography of only a handful of (domestic) recordings Iaies has paid homage to American masters such as John Lewis, Monk, Herbie Nichols, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis and Michel LeGrande. Here on Vals there are moments of euro-classical ardor, as on the stately, Juarez El Casamentero. To flat out New York fire, Astor Changes. Trumpeter De Urquiza shows mute skills on only two tunes, the title selections and the hauntingly lovely version of Nefertiti. And it would have been to their advantage to feature his brass fittings more. However, textually the music's touching momentum stirs the heart strings from beginning to end in the quartet. The horn adds a jazzy flavoring. This music soothes and satisfies. As if we are transported way south of the boarder.Way,way south of the boarder! Thanks for the trip...

Shame on me. I will never doubt again.