French pianist Baptiste Trotignon and Argentinian percussionist Minino Garay (who has lived in Paris for over two decades now) have come up with a lively and fresh take on songs by Leonard Bernstein, Paul McCartney, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker, among others. They both met for the firrst time in South America in 2011 and have worked together on and off. The heavily percussive, South American stylings of “Maria” or “I Feel Pretty” for example give those two classics from both the musical theatre and jazz canons an exciting new twist.
Chimichurri, the Argentinian herbal sauce which is usually served with barbecued beef (but is also yummy used as a marinade with different sorts of fish) is an appropriate title here since most of the cuts are pretty spicy and fierce. Among the percussion instruments that Minino plays is the Argentine bombo legüero which is usully made of hollowed tree trunks, and the cajón. Minino opens up the beautiful “La Peregrinación” by Ariel Ramirez (sung by Mercedes Sosa among many others) with an introductory spoken word and Baptiste more or less stays true to the hauntingly wonderful melody.
But the short intermezzo is broken up again by a weird “Trinkle Tinkle” from Thelonious Monk‘s oeuvre – including all the witty and humorous characters of the song’s original. Minino is mainly accompanying here, helping to make the whole effort not as streamlined as you think a piano/percussion album would sound like. “Jenny Wren”, Paul McCartney‘s song from his own 2005 album “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” is another strong Baptiste vehicle where he almost plays the meditative and melancholy piece alone, only slightly backed by Minino. And the slow and intimate mood continues with Bernstein’s “Somewhere”, which builds into a more frenzied arrangement toward the end to segue into another piece from the West Side Story, “Tonight” and, finally, “America”, the most raging, heavily Latinized piece of the pie here.
One of two compositions by Baptiste, the airy and somehow vulnerable “Fly”, is another very quiet piece, as is the Carlos Gardel classic “Volver”, coming through as almost classical in its approach. Very tasty and with tango greetings. The other original, “Vamos”, the longest cut clocking in at just under six minutes, is a percussion/piano tour-de-force where Baptiste reminds me of some Chick Corea/Return To Forever playing. And the interplay between the two on this track and the ensuing “Sus Ojos Se Cerraron” is fascinating. Parker’s “Passport” can only be described as a short intermezzo and with “Chorinho Pra Ele”, Hermeto Pascoal‘s ode from his 1977 “Slave Mass” album, marks a fast and furious end to this enjoyable set. (There is also a short carnevalesque, hidden track after the last song.)