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whatmusic.com presents ‘Blues For A Cosmonaut’, Chivo Borraro’s excursion into the outer limits of space jazz with fellow argentinean jazzonauts & brazilian guest!
  • First ever worldwide release!
  • Features Fernando Gelbard, Chino Rossi & Stenio Mendes
  • Tracks include afro-latin fusion killer ‘Mi Amigo Tarzan’ & ‘Líneas Torcidas’!
  • Exclusive new liner notes

Check the 30 second clips from the album...

The whatmusic.com interview...

five jazzonauts from argentina and a brazilian ‘craviolist’!

Horacio Borraro is one of the founding fathers of modern and contemporary jazz in Argentina. Friends and fans know him by the nickname of ‘Chivo’ (‘Goat’). Everyone in Argentina’s jazz circle loves this gentlemanly, funny and inventive fellow born in Buenos Aires in 1925, who is also an architect, painter, designer, occasional writer and photographer. During the sixties and seventies he sought the company of younger musicians without ever giving up his ties to his contemporaries. The musicians in the band were all born in the forties. But furthermore, they are among the best in Argentina. Fernando Gelbard, pianist and keyboardist here (he also plays flute), did other records with Borraro, but was mainly known for his consistently up-to-date solid work on piano and flute. Gelbard’s command of electronic instruments was quite unique in Buenos Aires at the time – he’s also known for his pioneering work in computers – and he moved to the United States in the late seventies. The bass player and the drummer, Jorge ‘El Negro’ González and Néstor Astarita respectively, had been Gato Barbieri’s rhythm team in the late fifties and early sixties, when Barbieri was the local jazz superstar, before leaving for Europe and the States. So the listener finds here a good sampling of first-rate argentinean jazz musicians. And they have kept proving how good they are, to argentinean cognoscenti at least; because they chose to make it in their difficult and unpredictable country, they have remained largely unknown to international audiences. As for Miguel ‘Chino’ Rossi, his percussion lines and ideas show he belongs to this group, but he seems to have vanished from the music scene.

For this album Gelbard and Borraro chose to explore quite thoroughly the field of electronic instruments, thus moving through new jazz dimensions. We have to bear in mind that Argentina is a mixture of underdevelopment and, in a big city like Buenos Aires, overdevelopment. That should explain the fact that though electronics in music was in the early seventies quite a new phenomenon to the popular music world at large, as early as 1973 musicians in Buenos Aires were not only experimenting, but ready to put their experiments on record.

Borraro’s tenor sound here conveys mainly a lyrical, peaceful and quiet mood. Beyond the technical prowess evident in the three numbers with multiple overdubbing (due to both Gelbard and Borraro), the record has a soaring, in-the-clouds quality that makes for a lot of its charm. There is of course an exception to all that: ‘My Friend Tarzan’, a medium-fast swinger, where Borraro shows the fiercely expressionistic side of his tenor saxophone.

A brazilian composer and ‘craviolist’ meets the jazz quintet

The two compositions by Stênio Mendes are the longest tracks on this record, so as to allow for the expression of two different but akin worlds : brazilian music and jazz. The musicians (Mendes, Borraro, Gelbard, González, Astarita & Rossi) sort of ‘glide’ from one world to the other, to and fro. ‘Líneas Torcidas’-‘Twisted Lines’ begins with Mendes on craviola*, a 12-string acoustic guitar invented in Brazil, which is a cross between a ‘cravo’ (harpsichord) and a ‘viola’(a small double-string guitar), hence its name. ‘Twisted Lines’ alternates between reflective ad libitum contributions by Mendes, quiet, subdued dialogues between Mendes and Borraro and straight ahead jazz sections by the quintet. As for ‘La Invasión de los Monjes’ (‘The Invasion of the Monks’), the beginning and the end of the piece are given to Mendes’ ad libitum lyrical but forceful craviola playing, and the inner parts to more hard-driving work: on the one side we have Mendes doing a vocalese along his craviola lines, on the other, the jazz quintet very straight-ahead.

‘La Invasión de los Monjes’-Sextet (Borraro, Mendes, Gelbard, González, Astarita, Rossi): Mendes introduces the piece with his craviola and sets a lyrical north-eastern brazilian feel that is subtly subverted by Borraro’s tenor; craviola reasserts the initial mood and opens to an intensely and very brazilian rhythmic phase, heightened by a short but energetic burst of wordless vocal. Brazilian mood merges into a decidedly straight-ahead final jazz section: two energetic solos follow, one by Borraro, the other by Gelbard on the Fender Rhodes piano. The rhythm section then crafts another beautiful transition into the lyrical ending by Mendes on craviola.

Three compositions by Borraro

Two of them are played by the trio: Borraro, Gelbard and Rossi. ‘Blues Para un Cosmonauta’ (‘Blues For a Cosmonaut’) is just that, the blues. But this is a multi-track, multi-instrumented trio blues, infused with an eerie air stemming from the instrumental colours employed; the Minimoog and the Fender Rhodes evoke outer space sounds, as the title suggests. One knowing the Buenos Aires jazz leanings of the seventies would swear that nobody was much interested in Sun Ra, though… ‘Blues’… is a fitting showcase for Gelbard on Minimoog and Fender Rhodes.

‘Canción de Cuna’ (‘Lullaby’) is the other trio track. Borraro soloes on tenor upon and along Gelbard’s Moog lines, both grounded in the basic framework set by Gelbard on Fender Rhodes piano and Rossi on percussion. This is a lullaby, but it won’t lead you to sleep, rather induce a certain tranquil awareness. Let yourself be electronically caressed by Gelbard’s fake guitar solo on the Minimoog, one of his favourite recorded solos.

‘Mi Amigo Tarzán’ (‘My Friend Tarzan’) is the only track by the quintet (Borraro, Gelbard, González, Astarita & Rossi). It’s beginning is african-like, an assumed forgery by Borraro (remember Bill Summers’ pygmy intro to Hancock’s Head Hunters’ version of ‘Watermelon Man’?). Well, this record dates from the same year and the musicians in Buenos Aires could certainly not have known about Hancock’s idea. Borraro’s subsequent tenor flows along more traditional bebop-postbop lines than his other solos on this record. The medium-fast tempo gives way to a lyrical interlude, then it’s back to a fiercely expressionistic passage followed by another lyrical interlude, before a Minimoog solo by Fernando Gelbard. After a percussion break, Borraro’s fiery tenor returns; the end of the piece is as ‘african’ as the beginning.


In 1973, as far as I know the term ‘world music’ had not yet been coined. But jazz music by that time had given enough proof of its ‘world’ dimension. What latin-american musicians in Brazil and Argentina had been looking for when trying to marry jazz to their local musical traditions were the requisite sounds for what was subsequently labelled ‘world music’. Brazilian bossa nova had conquered Buenos Aires in the late fifties and early sixties, and at the same time some american jazzmen were trying to understand that particular blend of modern jazz and brazilian samba. Astor Piazzolla’s brand of new tango, also a blend of modern jazz and tango, was another aspect of the international expansion of jazz or, as we may see it today, another chapter in the genesis of ‘world music’. ‘World music’ as we know it today developed as an extension of rock, pop and folk music rather than as an extension of jazz. Well, let’s call it ‘world jazz’. This very record is definite proof that some musicians were already trying their hands at ‘cosmic jazz’, for jazz was, and remains, their aim.

Norberto Gimelfarb, Yverdon, Switzerland, May 2002

*About the craviola

According to several international sources the craviola was devised in 1969 by brazilian guitarist, singer and composer Paulinho Nogueira (born in 1929 in the state of São Paulo). He designed it for Gianini, a well-known brazilian company. Nogueira is also a prestigious teacher (Toquinho is one of his pupils) and author of methods for guitar.

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

Special thanks to Fernando Gelbard & Chivo Borraro.

©2002 whatmusic.com
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