EL ECO
 
 

In 1987, Chilean conceptual artist Alfredo Jaar baffled and angered passerby in Time Square with an installation that showed a map of the United Sates with the words “This is not America.” The computer-animated image then changed to show the word “America” and a map of the whole continent. The point, for Latin Americans at least, was rather obvious, but it had to be made. Similarly, in the 1980s, the late, great Cuban trumpeter and band leader Mario Bauza, who knew a thing of two about jazz, Afro-Cuban and Latin American music, used to baffle and anger many of his lesser every time he said that, with the exception of Paquito D’Rivera, no one was playing Latin jazz. What everybody called Latin jazz, he used to declare with a shrug, as if chagrined for having to state the obvious, was Afro-Cuban jazz. He wasn’t being just a proud Cubano, which of course he was, but calling attention o an overlooked, extraordinary world of rhythms and styles. In the decade since, a new generation of Latin American jazz musicians has emerged with an open, pan-Latin approach to Latin Jazz. Musicians such as Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez, Puerto Rican saxophonist David Sanchez and Venezuelan pianist Ed Simon have been drawing from the roots as well as their experiences in the United States and as a result, in the their music, mejoranas meet Monk, blues take a bomba y plena groove and Venezuelan tonadas take on hard swing. Argentine drummer and composer Guillermo Nojechowicz has been there all along, a practicioner and creator, as well, of this new pan-Latin sound. In compositions that range on this debut CD from the dark Chacarera de Paloma to the lyrical bounce of Samba de Maya, Nojechowicz, who has lived in Boston since 1980, reworks rhythms and styles such as Argentine chacareras, Braziian baiãos and Uruguayan candombes with the vocabulary of blues and bop. If the results sound organic, lived-in, it is because they reflect a life experience that is not just bilingual but bicultural. That’s what’s at the heart of Two Worlds. This is music from a place with blurred boundaries, a place of memories, echoes indeed, and startling newness. Café Opinião, for example, is a glimpse at, and a tribute to, a place in Rio de Janeiro, “a sort of Buena Vista Social Club” where musicians used to hang out and play, says Nojechowicz. Chacarera de Paloma is for a friend of his who became one of the “desaparecidos,” the vanished ones, during the Dirty War in Argentina in the late 70s. Time Lost, an easy-on-the ear ballad, was written after a trip to Buenos Aires to visit to his ill father, painter Noe Nojechowiz, who passed away in 1998. It is a meditation on lost chances, about time passed and things not shared. But this is followed by the bright, hopeful Samba de Maya, dedicatied to his seven-year-old daughter. Musically, Two Worlds stretches from a gentle mocking European tango in the title track and the irresistible groove of candombe, an African-rooted rhythm from the Rio de la Plata to a sober version of Sting’s Fragile and the joyful Afro-Brazilian rhythm of partido alto in Partido Final. This may be music that has its roots a continent away, but Nojechowicz’ writing resonates deeply, not just for the culturally curious. Ricky Ricardo yesterday, Ricky Martin today, the names change but every ten years or so mainstream culture in the United States discovers America – the other America that is. And as it turns out, at this turn of the century, it lives next door. Discover it yourself, here.

Fernando Gonzalez

PRESS - EL ECO - TWO WORLDS

"With moods both bright and dark, and melodies and rhythms from Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, 'Two Worlds' makes a sophisticated mix of sambas, tangos, and Afro-Cuban rhythms sound uncluttered and compelling. " --Bob Young, Boston Herald

“For many people, Latin music means tango and bossa nova with perhaps a bit of salsa thrown in. But there is a whole other world of distinct music styles and rhythms in Latin America. Nojechowicz explores many of them in his compositions on this excellent release, on which he wrote all the tunes except one. He especially utilizes the complex dance rhythms of Argentina and Uruguay, along with the more lifting sound of Brazil – which he credits as a mayor musical influence. You can hear echoes of the dark sound of Piazolla as he sometimes weaves in and out of different rhythms in the same piece. All this is overlayed with the influence of his long residence in the US. His band, El Eco, has long been active in the jazz circuit and the thriving latin jazz scene in the northeast. Their playing on this CD is tight and assured. This is true world music at its best.
--Ron Mason, Kansai Time Out / Japan

"...El Eco lays claim to an exotic form of Latin Jazz that...reaches across both Americas and collects the best musical aspects from each. Led by Argentine drummer Guillermo Nojechowicz, this sextet interprets his compositions and explores Pan-American cultural diversity. Ceremonial drums, rustic accordion, and a palette of percussion sounds blend with contemporary timbres and highly effective vocals…Nojechowicz, a tasteful drummer and innovative percussionist, propels the ensemble with gentle authority. His leadership makes it work.…El Eco combines the music of various cultures into one big melting pot, without losing sight of their traditionally unique histories...Compositionally speaking, the tunes here, all originals, are solid...”
--Cadence Magazine

"Guillermo's tunes are fabulous and I love the performances on this disk. El Eco's CD is simply fantastic!"
--Paquito D'Rivera
World-renowned musician

"...a persuasive package...warm and lustrous tones with plenty of space for the listener's thoughts...big bass, vibrant percussion, and a large dose of South American DNA mixed with the blues and bop that circulate in our air. The cultural complexity, following a long jazz tradition, enlivens this set. Nojechowicz plays with decrescendo nicely, making music that ebbs and flows like the body's rhythms....trumpeter Claudio Roditi and guitarist Romero Lubambo make cameos...it sure goes down sweetly..."
--Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer

“What a fabulous album this is! Kim Nazarian from the New York Voices appears on this CD, exhibiting her transparently beautiful scat. Popular guitarist Romero Lubambo also joins the crew. Sting’s cover “Fragile” can be heard with a full “saudade” feeling.
--Bounce Magazine
Tower Records, Japan

"One reason that Boston has become a primary home for Latin jazz is the presence of El Eco, a breeding ground for the genre's best young artists for more than a decade.”
--Bob Blumenthal
Grammy Award-winning jazz writer

“Let by Guillermo Nojechowicz (drums), the Brazilian jazz group EL ECO is based in Boston. Kim Nazarian is featured, giving the album a very sophisticated and urban sound. . . guest musicians include Claudio Roditi (trumpet) and Romero Lubambo (guitar), especially sensitive yet emotional, Romero’s playing must be noted. Tracks such as Sting’s cover “Fragile” and “La Bossa Nova de Claudio” which are full of sadness and grief is a must listen. “
--Swing Journal, Japan