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whatmusic.com presents ‘El Nuevo Sonido del Chivo Borraro’. This legendary collector’s disc from Argentina’s tenor sax giant Horacio ‘Chivo’ Borraro was cut in Buenos Aires in 1966 and is arguably the greatest jazz LP ever to come out of Argentina!

  • First ever worldwide release!
  • Features Fernando Gelbard (p), Alfredo Remus (b) & Eduardo Casalla (ds)
  • Tracks include modal killer ‘Half and Half’ & ‘Summertime’!
  • Exclusive new liner notes

Check the 30 second clips from the album...

The whatmusic.com interview...

B.A. jazz!

Known to friends and fans as ‘El Chivo’ (‘The Goat’), Luis Horacio Borraro, born in Buenos Aires in 1925, is an architect, painter, designer, sometimes writer, photographer and musician (his main activity). His parents were both classical musicians: his mother was a pianist, his father a painter that had given up a promising career as a violinist. There were some other classical musicians in his family. Borraro chose to be a jazz clarinet player in the early forties and joined a legendary Argentinean group of the forties called The Rhythm Makers. They played traditional numbers, but were also attracted by the music of the swing era big bands and small groups. When the first bebop recordings hit Buenos Aires, they made such an impact on Borraro and some friends, like trumpeter (and physician) Emilio ‘Pipo’ Troise that they founded the Bop Club Argentino in 1950 to spread the good word of the first modern jazz style. He was one of the regulars in the fortnightly jam sessions held by the Bop Club during eight months every year and the closing annual concert in 1959. Let’s indulge in some name-dropping: other regulars of the Bop Club sessions were the then-budding talents of Gato Barbieri (then playing alto sax) and Lalo Schifrin. There was also an annual poll that Chivo consistently won in the clarinet category. The Bop Club folded in 1959, but Chivo’s musical career went on with a major change in 1961: he gave up his clarinet and took up the tenor sax. “You couldn’t hear the clarinet in jam sessions” were his actual words. He didn’t say exactly ‘jam sessions’, he said ‘pizzas’, Argentinean musicians slang for jam sessions. That was typical of Borraro’s humour. Actually at the time the TV stations were gathering staff bands and needed saxophone players. The man who helped Borraro get a tenor chair by lending him some money to buy one was the fantastic drummer Pichi Mazzei. There you have another legendary Argentinean jazz musician, an old friend of Borraro’s and a regular of the Bop Club sessions. Just like the music consultant of the people that made possible this record: Horacio Malvicino, a guitarist, arranger, and composer. Maybe you don’t know that he’s one of the best jazz players of Borraro’s generation, but you’ve certainly seen his name as Astor Piazzolla’s or, later, Gary Burton’s guitarist (when Burton recorded his homage to Piazzolla).

Chivo Borraro is the elder statesman in this record. His companions here are younger, all of them born around 1940. At the Bop Club sessions he had met bassist Alfredo Remus and drummer Eduardo Casalla, both fully talented and driving musicians. As Borraro felt at the time he needed young musicians to express his new approach to jazz, he chose another youngster, pianist Fernando Gelbard, whom he had met at Carlos Tarsia’s place in Buenos Aires (musicians gathered for jam sessions at Tarsia’s home in Buenos Aires for over twenty years). Gelbard was both honoured and astonished by Borraro’s asking him to be his pianist on this record; he greatly admired his personality and musical achievements.

An all-night recording session in Buenos Aires, 1966

It was Thursday, June the second, 1966. It was a night-long session. No reams and reams of scores, but scant bits of paper with chord indications and no long rehearsal, just enough to decide on who solos and in what order. Horacio Malvicino was sitting in the control booth worrying about sound balance, unusually serious. Osvaldo Acedo, the man responsible for the sound, was about to achieve the kind of highly professional job he became well known for in Buenos Aires.

The session got started with some hot coffee cups brought by Borraro’s wife, Belita, from the café across the street. Then it was the turn of the music.

The first take was ‘Summertime’, maybe not dreamt up by Gershwin in such an attire, but we may infer that he would have liked Chivo’s recreation of his tune. The atmosphere proves exceptional right away. Chivo exposes the theme. The four musicians are playing as though their lives depended on it. Fernando Gelbard places neat, categorical, undisputable chords. A solo by Alfredo Remus confirms he can try anything on his bass and get away with it. Eduardo Casalla’s drumming is carefully tailored to fit the needs of his three companions.

Now they are playing an original by Borraro: ‘La Paz’. A great romantic flight on a ballad, with a mysterious halo about it. It’s title in Spanish means ‘peace’ and after having heard it you’ll agree. A peaceful ballad it is. Now we could say: “Hey, it sounds like a Weather Report ballad avant la lettre”, but much more on the jazz side.

The musicians feel like listening to these first two takes, but Malvicino says no need to, it would break the beautiful mood they have attained.

Then comes ‘Half And Half‘, an obsessive, exciting, somewhat sketchy original by American saxophonist Charlie Davis, much in the spirit of the sixties. As far as I know Coltrane never recorded it, but Elvin Jones did in the sixties (‘Illumination’ Impulse A-49). It is a jazz waltz allowing for a variety of rhythmic resources, that the musicians indeed take advantage of. One of the charms of this version is that it is decidedly indecisive tempo-wise: 3/4 which is somehow 4/4, and vice versa. Everyone gets a chance to show his prowess on this number; they would play forever, were it not for the control booth that finally dissolves the sound to silence.

In ‘Charlie’s Blues’ the four musicians trade ideas constantly. With any and every duelling combination of tenor saxophone, bass and drums, each player seeks to prove to the others that he can commune while apparently searching to contradict. At the end of this blues communion-battle, they leave the recording room and invade the control booth, hungry to listen to what they have accomplished. Malvicino, Acedo and the others assure them that everything is coming out impeccably – to no avail. They have to listen.

‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams’ is their choice for a last number. That makes them feel a bit at home, home being the stage of the Bop Club, so suddenly they let go their lyrical side in a more modern/mainstream jazz way. So if you want to do some record dreaming as one would say “day dreaming”, you may feel like being a part of those beautiful Monday evenings in Buenos Aires. Only no one ever heard such an unorthodox version of ‘Polka Dots’ on the stage of the Bop Club. They play a beautiful ballad, but under the ‘tomorrow is the question’ banner.

So there you have it – a 1966 record made in Buenos Aires by a kind of ‘Pilgrim Father’ of Argentina’s modern jazz movement and three younger and much talented musicians. They are a part of Argentina’s jazz avant-garde and in later records they would prove their attachment to more revolutionary forms of jazz, without ever losing their firm roots in the bebop movement.

Finally they leave the studio, after having carefully listened to the whole tape and discussed it thoroughly. The morning sun bids them good morning and goodbye.

Norberto Gimelfarb

CEDAR processing by Sean ‘Big P’ Pennycook. Remastered by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master Rio de Janeiro June 2002

Special thanks to Chivo, Norberto Gimelfarb and to Fernando Gelbard

© 2002 whatmusic.com
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