In 2008, Argentine pianist Esteban Sehinkman undertook a grand project: he would create a "real book" of compositions by Argentine jazz musicians. Anyone who has ever played in a high school jazz combo is familiar with the American real book (or "fake book"), a collection of lead sheets for pretty much every standard you can think of. The first time you play "All The Things You Are" or "Body and Soul," you're probably looking at the real book.
Sehinkman's idea was that Argentine jazz students needed to learn the music of their own country—that an Argentine student who played only American tunes would forever look north and think, "if only I'd been born in the USA!", but an Argentine student who looked at his own countrymen as fundamental referents could declare proudly, "I'm an Argentine jazz musician!"
Sehinkman's real book project has gathered compositions by 194 Argentine composers, and this week, he released a CD (you can download it for free!) of performances related to the book. You'll hear Richard Nant and his Argentos band play Guillermo Klein's "Va Román," saxophonist Ramiro Flores and his quartet take on Martin Iannacone's "Andrea en la boca," and the keyboardist/sound conjurer Mono Fontana caress Román Cea's "Vals." Most readers of this blog won't be familiar with these artists, but I highly recommend checking out the downloads (it's also streaming on the website). You can read an English version of the book's introduction, translated by yours truly, off a link on the "project" page.
On Tuesday, I'm going to be publishing an interview I did with Esteban a couple years back. For now, a few of his words:
"I think this book demystifies the idea that we don’t have roots. It’s all here! There are 150 composers. It’s all categorizable; it’s all logical. This country was formed by immigrants, by creoles, by indigenous peoples, and here, in this book, you see all of that. Tango is here! Folklore is here! Rock is here! And beneath all of the diversity of styles there’s something. It's going to help us define our roots. We’re not Horacio Salgán or traditional tango or folkloric musicians. We’re playing outside of all that..."