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Concert Review: 'Campo' by Pedro Giraudo's Jazz Orchestra

Part of the Jazz Gallery's Large Composition Commissions Series

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Concert Review: 'Campo' by Pedro Giraudo's Jazz Orchestra
© Federico Rodriguez
Composer and bassist Pedro Giraudo’s “Campo,” a suite dedicated to the Argentine countryside, was packed with electrifying grooves and prolonged blazing, brassy peaks during the second set of its premiere on March 6th, 2009. The composition was commissioned by the Jazz Gallery as part of a series supporting large ensemble works by up-and-coming composers, and its performance demonstrated Giraudo’s talent at creating brilliant themes, tightly-woven and practically bursting from the pressure.

Right away, the kinetic energy mounted furiously. The theme from the first movement of “A La Escuela,” inspired by equine school-bound journeys by country children, was built layer upon layer, until the trumpets were blaring while the drums and cajón (percussion instrument made out of a wooden box) mimicked an off-kilt horse’s gait. This pyramidal effect is common in Giraudo’s music, and so is the tendency to build immediately to tremendous levels of intensity.

Throughout the performance, those peaks of energy had such a magnetic pull that the more feathery sections almost seemed to require the most effort. Despite the predisposition toward the powerful and declamatory, the music was continually stirring thanks to its exuberance.

Perhaps it’s not so important that a musical work relate obviously to its title, but given the impressionistic labels of the pieces (‘A Trotando a la Escuela’ , ‘Alla a lo Lejos, Llegando, el Anuncio, Perros, Anuncio Canino’ [There in the Distance, Arriving, The Announcement, Dogs, Canine Announcement]), there was sense of unmet expectations. It was difficult to link the music to its implied extra-musical designations, the same way it might be confusing if Debussy’s “Nuages” were brisk and snarled rather than gauzy and meandering.

“Mate Dulce,” referring to a sweet version of the bitter Argentine tea, featured even-phrased folk melody, and added a necessary dollop of variance to the suite. Giraudo’s El Viaje, scheduled for release in April 2009, makes promising use of contrasting moods and styles, more successfully saving the blaring peaks for special moments.

The Jazz Gallery's Large Ensemble Commission Series has featured performances by Darcy James Argue and Josh Roseman, and is planned so far through June, 2009, with premieres by Gregg August, David Binney, Jason Lindner, Yosvany Terry, John Ellis, and Sherisse Rogers. Visit the Jazz Gallery's website for more details.

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