Puerto de Buenos Aires 1933 (Zoho)

El Eco with Guillermo Nojechowicz

Released October 13, 2017

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This project has been developed through many years,” says Nojechowicz, who studied film scoring at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and later studied in New York with Brazilian drummer Duduka da Fonseca. “It began on one of my trips to Buenos Aires when I found a passport issued in the early 1930s with images of my grandmother and my dad. Seeing that prompted all these feelings. I knew that they came to Argentina to escape the economic hardships at the time. And I also knew that those who stayed behind died in the concentration camps.” Nojechowicz wrote this cinematic music for his El Eco ensemble featuring bassist, co-producer and fellow Argentinean Fernando Huergo, Brazilian pianist Helio Alves, Italian saxophonist Marco Pignataro and New York Voices co-founder Kim Nazarian, whose soaring wordless vocals are an integral part of the group’s sound. Guest trumpeter Brian Lynch, a longtime member of Eddie Palmieri’s band, brings his fiery high-note work to bear on three tracks, “Puerto de Buenos Aires,” “The Possibility of Change” and “Friday Night Mambo.”

“The music is very image-driven,” says Nojechowicz. “After watching some films and doing some research, I tried to picture my grandmother in the 1930s, in the winter, taking the train with a little kid, my dad, who at the time was three years old. What emerged for me was the pain, the difficulty of moving to a new country, not knowing the language or the culture. So yeah, it’s very personal, from a very dark time.” The moody opener, Milonga Para Los Niños, based on a Uruguayan rhythm, has Italian accordionist Roberto Cassan adding a distinctly Piazzolla-esque quality to the proceedings. Sadly, Cassan, who also played on “Puerto de Buenos Aires,” died of a heart attack while visiting relatives in Italy shortly after this recording. “Roberto was a dear friend,” Nojechowicz says. “We all miss him.” Trains opens on a somber note with sparse piano and stirring string arrangements. By the 1:20 mark it kicks into a driving 7/4 rhythm suggesting the kinetic movement of the train traversing the European countryside as Nazarian sings: “Oh my son, we must go very far, time has come for us to leave…our home.”

Europe 1932 opens with a kind of funeral march, underscored by Nojechowicz’s snare work, and is further characterized by Cassan’s melancholy accordion and dark strings against Nazarian’s somber vocals. “In my head that snare drum tracks the forced death marches, with men, women, and kids being forced onto the trains that took them to the camps,” says Nojechowicz. “I wrote this piece as a witness to that—people being targeted, pulled out of their shops, their homes, with families being split. What a devastating time.” Huergo contributes a particularly expressive bass solo on this number. Says Nojechowicz of his fellow Argentinean, “Fernando is very poetic on the bass. It’s unique, his style, and always very lyrical.”

The Argentinean chacarera rhythm fuels the title track Puerto de Buenos Aires, which includes vibrant solos by Alves and Lynch and features another example of Nazarian’s dynamic vocals in tight unison with Pignataro’s sax. Says the leader, “In my opinion, she’s brilliant with that, the way she does this scatting thing with the melody throughout the tune.

It’s very challenging for any singer but Kim’s commitment not just to my melodies but to the spirit of the music always amazes me. We’ve been performing together since we first began collaborating in 1998.” Nojechowicz himself contributes vocals alongside Nazarian on Berimbao’s Baby which also has him playing the Brazilian single-string percussion instrument. And he stretches out on the kit on The Unknown Road which might be subtitled “Give The Drummer Some.” Alves supplies some vaguely Middle Eastern whole tone scales on I Loved You Too, which has Nojechowicz playing talking drum and singing and features a strong soprano sax solo by Pignataro. The saxophonist, who manages the Berklee Global Jazz Institute directed by Wayne Shorter Quartet pianist Danilo Perez, contributes some bold tenor playing on Huergo’s exhilarating chacarera The Possibility of Change, which also features a bristling trumpet solo from Lynch. The only non-original in the program is Hermeto Pascoal’s Bebe, rendered as an effervescent piano trio number.

And the collection closes with Nazarian’s vocals leading the way on Friday Night Mambo, which features invigorating solos from Pignataro, Lynch and Alves. Says the composer, “I wrote that tune just thinking about what a crazy life we all live. In Argentina, when you say ‘mambo’ it means either ‘you’re crazy’ or ‘what a crazy situation.’ So ‘Friday Night Mambo’ is about just that. We workaholics can never unwind, not even on Friday—but maybe on Saturday.” While those last two tracks stand apart from the personal suite that Nojechowicz crafted in the memory of his grandmother and father, they too are part of the fabric of his musical life from Buenos Aires to Boston represented on Puerto de Buenos Aires 1933, his most emotionally-charged and fully realized recording to date.

Bill Milkowski

Track Listing:

1. Milonga Para Los Niños (Guillermo Nojechowicz) 6:07
2. Trains (Guillermo Nojechowicz) 8:05
3. Europe 1933 (Guillermo Nojechowicz) 6:16
4. Puerto De Buenos Aires (Guillermo Nojechowicz) 9:00
5. Berimbao’s Baby (Guillermo Nojechowicz) 4:22
6. The Unknown Road (Guillermo Nojechowicz) 7:55
7. I Loved You Too (Guillermo Nojechowicz) 9:04
8. The Possibility Of Change (Fernando Huergo) 5:05
9. Bebe (Hermeto Pascoal) 5:37
10. Friday Night Mambo (Guillermo Nojechowicz) 6:30


Helio Alves: piano
Fernando Huergo: bass
Kim Nazarian: vocals, percussion
Marco Pignataro: tenor, soprano sax
Brian Lynch: trumpet
Guillermo Nojechowicz: drums, percussion, vocals

Franco Pinna: bombo legüero, percussion;
Roberto Cassan: accordion;
Megumi Lewis: violin
Ethan Wood: violin
Sarah Darling: viola
Leo Eguchi: ello

String arrangements: Nando Michelin

Recorded January 2017, at Kaleidoscope Sound, Union City, NJ, by Kyle Cassell

Mixed by Kyle Cassell at Kaleidoscope Sound

Additional Recording: Wellspring Sound, Acton, MA, by Matt Hayes

Mastered by Dave Darlington at Bass Hit Recording, New York, NY

Art Direction and Package Design by Chris Drukker

Additional design by Eike Wintzer and Laurie Covens

Photographer: Jon Beckley

Studio Photographer: Alfonso Pagano

Associate Producer: Fernando Huergo

Produced by Guillermo Nojechowicz

Executive Producer: Joachim “Jochen” Becker


With plenty of full-throated jazz soloing, the album has one foot in the southern hemisphere and one in the north, and the personnel also straddles the equator: Guillermo Nojechowicz’s sextet El Eco (The Echo) is rounded out by American trumpet ace Brian Lynch, Argentinian bassist Fernando Huergo, Brazilian pianist Helio Alves, and Italian saxophonist Marco Pignataro, with a string quartet added for additional grandeur. Conceived in solemnity and impressively executed with passion and precision, it succeeds entirely. 

Neil Tesser (JAZZIZ)