Improv from Buenos Aires

Agustí Fernandez and Pablo LedesmaEn vivo en el Festival de Jazz de Buenos Aires (Discos ICM, 2018)

fernandez-ledesmaPiano-sax improvisations recorded live, giving us a real-time peek into the mutual circling that goes on in a duo improv format.

In two of the five improvisations here — four mid-length pieces and a three-minute encore — Pablo Ledesma (sax) and Agustí Fernandez (piano) work from traditional playing techniques. Each one has a tentative start, with both players testing the waters, and builds into flurries of activity.”Improvisación #1″ opens with bright, painterly arcs, gently capturing your attention. It’s a good start to the album and, presumably, the concert.

Here’s a video of that piece:

I particularly like the narrative traced by “Improvisación #4.” It starts as a low-key conversation, painting in muted colors even as both players pick up speed. After a sustained dark tunnel of quavering sax and piano, they settle into a long stretch of quiet sound exploration.

Fernandez uses prepared piano and manual string-scraping to sometimes build a palette of abstract sounds, particularly on “Improvisación #2” and #3. Both feature stretches of more noise-based improvising, with Ledesma speaking in small shards of sound. “Improvisación #2” gets into a buzzing industsrial mode, a nice tension that’s sustained as ringing open notes start appearing from the piano.

This album comes from an Argentinian label called Discos ICM, which focuses on more mainstream jazz styles but welcomes an experimental excursion here and there. On the mainstream side, I’m liking the track “Ida y vuelta” from drummer René Gatica and his quintet; I’m also exploring the Naturaleza Práctica EPs from the (I’m guessing) drummer-led guitar trio Conjunto de Lassaletta.