Argentinian, Rotterdam-based guitarist-composer Rodrigo Faina’s new album with the Dutch Change Ensemble, «Different Roots», is inspired by his childhood and adolescence in Argentina, where the literature of Julio Cortazar and Jorge Luis Borges went hand in hand with jazz music and played a fundamental role in Faina’s life. «Different Roots» attempts to evoke the feelings and sensations that remain with us after having read stories and aims to take us to a fantastic place that exists only in the composer’s mind.
Faina’s music is rooted in jazz but his orchestrations for the Change Ensemble transcends simple genre categorizations. «Different Roots» sounds nostalgic and associated with tango music, but also unorthodox and borrowing compositional strategies from modern composers like Arnold Schönberg and Anton Webern, and even art-rock and pop, with enough space for improvisation. The musicians of the Change Ensemble are associated with the local jazz scene and others work with internationally renowned orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic and Antwerp Symphony.
«Different Roots» is structured like an imaginative, complex suite that swings with poetic and sometimes abstract images, suggests gentle dances and tells dramatic cinematic stories. The «Opening» piece introduces the intimate, lyrical atmosphere of this album, but also fuses the intricate and colorful spectrum of sounds into an impressive unity. «Deep, Dark and Blue» is an odd choral that cleverly blends Kenny Wheeler-flavored chords with classical contemporary influenced harmonies. The alternate take of this piece favors the brass section and a more introspective mood. «At Night» blends the subtle air of tango, and aims to evoke the spirit of Julio Cortazar’s magnificent story «Speech of The Bear» with a touching, melancholic melody, and with Fanny Alofs reciting fragments of the story.
«A Room Full of People» changes the solemn mood and employs the full orchestral powers of the Change Ensemble. It injects sudden rushes of energy and rides on a massive rock groove that ignites a volatile guitar solo by Guillermo Celano. But on «An Installment of Time» Faina and the Change Ensemble gravitate back into a contemplative, enigmatic mood, acting as a counterpart to Cortazar’s story «Instructions on How to Wind a Watch», read by Alofs. «If I’m To Live» deepens this hypnotic vein, and captures Cortazar’s poem with the same title, as the celestial wordless voice of Alofs floats above the ensemble. «Different Roots» closes with «Dreams», a bonus track performed by the Metropole Orkest, highlighting Faina’s lush and richly detailed orchestration.
«Different Roots» may send you to look for other works by Faina, and check your library for the books of Cortazar and Borges.
Fanny Alofs (v), Marieke Franssen (fl), Ilse Eijsink (Bb cl, bcl); Lars Wouters (Bb cl, bcl), Paul van der Feen (ss, as), Kees Krabben (as), Iman Spaargaren (ts), Nils van Haften (ss, ts, bs), Stefanie Liedtke (bassoon), Marc Kaptijn (tp, flh), Gerard Kleijn (flh), Erwin ter Bogt (tp, flh), Victor Belmonte (tb, btb), Daniel Quiles Cascant (tb), Dave Kutz (tuba), Guillermo Celano (el.g), Folkert Oosterbeek (p, Fender rhodes), Clemens van der Feen (b), Marcos Baggiani (dr, perc), Jasper Le Clercq (vio), Nina Hitz (c), Rodrigo Faina (cond, el.g), Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley.