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Guillermo Rozenthuler

A Route To The Roots

by Ian Mann

October 04, 2008


Cliché free South American music with a jazz touch. Both jazz and world music followers should find much to enjoy here

This own label release features the London based Argentinian singer and guitarist Guillermo Rozenthuler leading his band Rioplatenses in a live concert recording at London’s Bush Hall venue on December 3rd 2007.

Rozenthuler’s previous release “The Blue Hour” (also reviewed on this site) revealed him to be a powerful singer and a talented writer with the ability to steer well clear of standard tango and Latin American clichés.

This new live recording sees him adding a more overt jazz element to his music with the introduction of jazz pianist John Turville to the line up. The material is all new to me, there appears to be no overlap from the previous release. As before all the lyrics are delivered in Spanish but Rozenthuler’s album liner notes give a brief explanation of the origins of, and the stories behind the songs. The majority of the songs are from Argentina and are drawn from outside writers and traditional sources. Rozenthuler has no writing credits on this record but he has chosen his material well. There are some excellent songs on this record.

Joining Rozenthuler and Turville are regular band members Javier Fioramonti on bass and percussionist Andres Ticino. There are also guest artists in the form of Ninon Foiret on flute and bandoneon and Pablo Ben Dov the latter adding additional percussion to the final mix.

As these are songs Rozenthuler’s voice, strong and soulful but also capable of great tenderness, is very much at the heart of the music. However the instrumentalists also make a tremendous contribution to this lovingly arranged music shadowing Rozenthuler’s voice with grace and acumen and adding greatly to the drama of the songs.

The jazzy direction that Rozenthuler has added to his music also allows the instrumentalists some solo space. Turville is the main beneficiary with a number of concise, pithy solos throughout the album. Foiret’s flute is also to the fore on the opening “Pa’l Que Se Va” a milonga from Uruguay.
The following “Malena” showcases her skills on the bandoneon alongside Turville’s piano. It’s joyous and uplifting.

“Campo Afuera” features Fioramonti’s liquid, springy electric bass. A fluent soloist he is also equally adept at driving the band. He and the Uruguayan Ticino form a supple and flexible rhythm section adding colour and impetus to the music. Both are excellent throughout.

But ultimately it is about the songs. There are some gorgeous melodies here and once again Rozenthuler and his bandmates avoid all the cliches. Yes, there is tango here but there are other Argentinian rhythms too such as chacarera and huayno plus Uruguayan, Peruvian and African influences.

Rozenthuler is in fine voice throughout alternatively impassioned or conversational, tough or tender. It’s a beautifully nuanced performance and although he would probably consider himself primarily a singer he is also a highly accomplished guitarist and his instrumental contribution is vital to the overall group sound. His colourful arrangements are superbly executed by the band and although it’s most definitely Rozenthuler’s album it’s also a supreme team effort.

Like it’s predecessor “Routes” makes precious few concessions to the English speaking audience and is none the worse for that. Rozenthuler’s music remains refreshingly cliché free. This is calmly authoritative music with the added frisson of live performance.. Both jazz and world music followers should find much to enjoy here.
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