Various Artists

New Improvised Music From Buenos Aires

With the right resources, travel to nearly any point on the globe is possible. While it’s getting harder to be cut off from the rest of the planet, it’s still possible for a culturally or geographically bound community to nurture a distinct scene. Such enclaves can be well served by compilations that present the best players, each contributing material that demonstrates the idiosyncratic ideas and methods that make them unique.

If Argentina has such a scene, this compilation does not make a strong case for its individuality. While much of the music on New Improvised Music From Buenos Aires is eminently listenable, it never sounds uniquely of a place. “We’re connected with everyone,” observes reedist Luis Conde, of the duos Rulemares and Duquesa in the album’s liner notes. Certain musicians here—pianist Agustí Fernández or trumpeter Leonel Kaplan—are either from Europe or have played there extensively. And even the performers who work only in Argentina sound pretty aware of jazz and free-improv from around the world.

What the album really represents is simply a cross section of diversely oriented, technically accomplished musicians who are well acquainted with sounds from around the globe. Kaplan, soprano saxophonist Pablo Ledesma and bassist Mono Hurtado play melancholy chamber jazz. Cornetist Enrique Norris and pianist Paula Shocron evoke Don Cherry’s vulnerable lyricism. So, while the musicians on this album have the chops and acumen to hold their own with players from anywhere else in the world, only a few of them have the ability to stand out.

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