Pablo Ablanedo Octet (o)
Creative Nation Music ***1/2
Think jazz with an Argentinian connection and perhaps a bandoneón springs to mind or reflect on the huge influence Astor Piazzolla has cast over jazz and improvised music. Buenos Aires-born pianist Ablanedo’s US-based octet is different. As exuberant and spirited as a Piazzolla or a Dino Saluzzi, but also reaching out far beyond their tango-derived sound into the maelstrom of pulsating contemporary jazz at the same time, ReContraDoble works at a very technical level even if it does not lose any impression of spontaneity. The Boston-based octet here (plus two guests, confusingly) follow certain fixed schemes with the title track and ‘Antiphona’ based on an Argentine folk scale and two melody lines running in opposition to each other like a mirroring effect. But don’t let the analysis get in the way. Of the instrumentalists Phil Grenadier, Mehldau bassist Larry Grenadier’s brother, plays beautifully on ‘Antiphona’ and ‘Las Buenas Nuevas’, and it’s a highly accomplished group performance that simmers so very satisfyingly throughout.