With the release of El Viaje, Argentine composer, arranger and bassist Pedro Giraudo further solidifies his reputation as one of New York City’s most creative and daring bandleaders. The session, his fourth as a leader, finds his 12-piece jazz orchestra in dazzling form, roaring with laser-focused precision through a set of original works that defy conventional big band thinking and strike out on a stylistic path of its own. It’s not surprising that Giraudo has already made a big impression on some of the country’s most seasoned music critics. Peter Watrous, for one, writing in Descarga, raves about Giraudo’s exceptionally talented ensemble and his writing and arranging skills, terming the band’s riveting performances “modern jazz and Latin music at its best."
The use of a journey, real or imagined, as a metaphor has long served writers, poets, composers and filmmakers. In Giraudo’s case, un viaje could serve as an effective reference in a number of ways. The cultural transition he has made in relocating from his home in provincial Argentina to the very heart of the jazz culture in New York City has been a journey in every sense of the word. It could also allude to his ever evolving talents as a musician. But this trip was something extra special -- the emotional passage he and his wife Marianela lived through in the months leading up to and following the birth of Vera, their first child. The feelings of excitement, fear, anxiety, restlessness and nostalgia the couple experienced became the perfect emotions to translate into the arresting music that forms the core repertoire of El Viaje.
As the nine tracks on El Viaje attest, Giraudo is first and foremost a composer and arranger. The sheer bravura of his works, with their searing rhythmic intensity and haunting themes, confirm that the Argentine musician is indeed worthy of mention in the same breath as Ellington, Bley, Evans and other large ensemble alchemists.