El cuchi Bien Temporado

Relaxing solo guitar from Argentina celebrates polymath composer.

Label: ECM
Time: 17 tracks / 67 mins.

Gustavo 'Cuchi' Leguizamón was a composer, pianist, guitarist, lawyer and teacher, which is where guitarist Marquez first met him – as one of his history pupils. Marquez had no idea at the time that his teacher had composed many of the famous zambas (Argentinean dance pieces, written with poetic text) that he had known all his life.

This solo guitar set celebrates Leguizamón's legacy, but collated as the title suggests ('Cuchi' is an affectionate term for pig!) with a view to Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, which famously explores all the key signatures. Marquez says that, "To provide a wealth of colours, I set myself the challenge of never repeating any key."

Although he has created the set this way, it does not leave the impression of a vastly varied collection – which is a good thing in terms of the album hanging together. These pieces are dance pieces, composed with a classical-meets-populist mindset, so they should perhaps seem particularly melodic or lively, but there are few memorable melodies springing out of the works.

Several of the pieces are particularly well-suited to an American/European audience, such as "Zamba de Lozano" and "El Silbador."

Generally, Marquez has tried to reflect the silent texts in his playing. So in "Chacarera del Expediente," which has a text about the difficult lot of the poor, compared with the nation's corrupt politicians, the music becomes increasingly dissonant. However, this happens subtly and dies not detract from the general mood.

The overall effect is of a friend in the corner of the room, playing his guitar for relaxation, rather than a more formal performance. It is finely played, pleasant and a good record of Leguizamón's material, but that material's comfortable anonymity makes it far from essential.

Derek Walker


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