Marco Sanguinetti – 8 (2014)

Marco Sanguinetti has just blown my mind. Unintentionally, of course. It is just that I have, for many years, avoided listening to albums which are heavy on the piano because it is not my favorite instrument. The last time I heard really good improvised piano playing was from the late, great Mel Davis with the People Band at Cafe Oto in London, sometime last March — and I thought nothing could touch that. When Marco approached me to review his fourth album with the unlikely title of 8, I agreed but did not expect it to affect me in any way. I was wrong.

8 is packed to the rafters with beautiful music, and has been put together by a passionate and ardent improviser yet it is not completely anarchic or improvised. Sanguinetti has been around for a while with three previous albums Improvisiones (2005), Franz Processes (2008), The Other (2011) and now 8, the last three being produced on the Acqua label.

He has played with Rodrigo Gomez, Leila Cherro (who also plays on 8), La Bomba de Tiempo and others. He has also been involved in many audio visual projects and, since 2008, has been part of the Mobile Cia as musical director with the dancer and choreographer Ines Armas and playwright Fagner Pavan. He is also involved in many projects involving dance, theater and music and has presented his music at international festivals.

He describes 8 as: “themes aimed at searching for a new sound with clear urban ideas.” Listening to Marco Sanguinetti is like stepping through a portal into a world where strange rhythms, counterpoints and chords entwine to create mesmeric music I have ever heard.

The opening number “Cuchillo” starts with Marco playing his piano strings with his fingers and, he tells me, an empty whiskey glass. Fermin Merlo adds drums to create chunky, thunking, deeply mesmeric twanging and bangings before the piano proper comes in — first just a repeated G# note played over and over — before the tune develops and the rest of the musicians join to create a calmer section to meet the rhythm set by the piano. The tune develops to a climax with the entire band before peeling back to leave just the piano. It is genius.

“Ruedas” is a gorgeous bluesey number, the rhythm and melody dictated by the piano: I defy anyone listening to keep still. “La Verntana” (“The Window”) incorporates dreamy vocals from Victoria Zotalis and “We Don’t Know” is sonorous and slower with a complete change of mood. It is a structured composition, showing Marco’s ability to switch style with consummate ease. The voice included is reminiscent of John Cage in an interview from 1992 for 22708 Types by Henning Lohner.

“Navigator” starts with that repeated note (a D this time) and works up to a devilish finish. “San Telmo” takes the listener to sounds recorded at an Indian bazaar, complete with wailing background vocals, bells and market calls. It is an almost completely improvised piece with wondrous cello playing by Leila Cherro. He flows up and down the range using languid glissando and works up to an exciting finale.

8 is simply a great album. Marco is definitely one to listen out for. He was recently voted the No. 1 composer by Argentinian jazz journalists, and this relesae came second in album of the year balloting, as well. He was also the third best musician in the same poll, so he is definitely on the up and up.

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Sammy Stein

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