Jorge Szajko

Orquesta Salvaje

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Out of nowhere comes Jorge Szajko with a fascinating debut album. Discovered by British saxophonist and Slam owner George Haslam on one of his trips to Argentina, Szajko plays violin, viola, cello, double bass, saxophone, flute, piano, guitar, oboe, melodica, and percussion on this multi-tracked extravaganza. A handful of extra musicians lend a hand on a few tracks, especially in the drums and percussion department, but by and large this is a solo project. The music includes strong influences from South American popular music, Latin jazz, left-field improvisation, even a touch of progressive rock's pomposity. The album was recorded between 1982 and 1999 in Buenos Aires, obviously not always under the best circumstances (the sound quality is generally good but the master tapes are not without flaws). Each track (except the piano solo "Piano Salvaje") is a multi-tracking tour de force. The title track, a four-part suite lasting 13 minutes, truly is one of a kind. An avant-gardist Argentinian progressive rock symphony (there is simply no other way to describe it), it features a full string section, each track played by Szajko (no synthesizers involved). It has Latin dances, huge orchestral gestures dipped in atonality, and off-kilter drumming by Piny Levalle. The remainder of the album is not always up to that standard, but even the most pedestrian tunes hide a quirk or two in the arrangements. Szajko clearly has a unique musical vision that stretches beyond words. Orquesta Salvaje would have been excellent with better production. Sound quality aside, it remains a highly original album and yet listener-friendly.

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