The Argentine Invasion, PT. 3: Juan Cruz de Urquiza


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Joining Richard Nant in the trumpet section of Guillermo Klein's Base de Nave (at the Vanguard next month) will be Juan Cruz de Urquiza. JCU studied at Berklee with Klein and Nant in the early 90s, but unlike them, he returned to Buenos Aires soon after graduating. Much of the new Argentine jazz comes out of Klein's and Nant's work in mid- to late-90s New York (that's a large focus of my upcoming Checkout report), but JCU's contribution shouldn't be overlooked.

In 1998, Urquiza formed what many regard as the first band of the new Argentine jazz, Quinteto Urbano—a clockwork post-bop unit that brought a new professionalism and conceptual sophistication to the music. Quinteto dedicated itself to a rather simple concept: performing original music once a week and practicing it once a week. That hardly sounds like a radical proposition, but it proved to be—helping to shift the paradigm from pick-up gigs to intricately thought-out performances.

Drummer Pipi Piazzolla told me that hearing the jazz chacarera on Quinteto Urbano's first CD marked what the Argentines would call an “antes y después"—jazz could animate his country's native music and push it in bold new directions.

Here's Juan Cruz and Quinteto Urbano in a 2003 performance that's more straight-ahead than much of their music, but nonetheless shows this very tight band in very fine form:

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This story appears courtesy of Inverted Garden by Eric Benson.
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