Tokatlian, Villegas, Bordarampé - Inspiración
Launched in 2016, the Berlin based imprint, Altercat, has focused considerable energy toward illuminating remarkable and often sinfully overlooked efforts in 20th Century Latin American music. One after another, they’ve brought forth incredible reissues by Agustin Pereyra Lucena, Teo Azevedo, Carioca & Devas, Luis Vecchio, Jorge López Ruiz, Matias Pizarro, and numerous others - including their recent reissue of “Nana, Nelson Angelo, Novelli”, the 1975 stunner by the Brazilian trio of Naná Vasconcelos, Nelson Angelo, and Novelli - that have collectively rewritten the dominant historical narratives surrounding the music from the region as they’ve gone. Now, only a handful of months down the road, they return with another astounding artefact from 1970s Latin American music, “Inspiración”, a remarkable and rare effort of spiritual jazz from Argentina, recorded and released in 1975 by the trio of Ara Tokatlian, Enrique Villegas, and Guillermo Bordarampé. Guided into being under the leadership of Villegas on piano, with Tokatlian on a wide range of wind instruments and Bordarampé on bass and percussion, it’s a shimmering and soaring marvel, regarded by many as one of the deepest efforts in jazz to have emerged from South America. Fully licensed, using the original master tapes, and carrying the blessing of the two remaining band members, Ara Tokatlian and Guillermo Bordarampé, this incredible LP/CD comes housed in a sleeve perfectly duplicating the original, and is an absolute must for fans of Pharaoh Sanders, John Coltrane, and spiritual jazz at large.
Enrique "Mono" Villegas (1913-1986) was a fascinating figure in Argentine music. Born in Buenos Aires, he studied classical piano under the composer Alberto Williams, before being consumed by his love for jazz and immersing himself in the idiom. During the 1940s and '50s, he played and recorded within numerous ensembles, before stepping out as a leader and subsequently recording the first album to appear under his own name in 1952. Its success led to his being put under contract with Columbia Records, enabling his move to New York City, but went his own after two albums following creative disagreements with the label. Following nearly a decade of touring in Europe, United States and Latin America, he eventually returned to Buenos Aires, where he promptly formed a number of incredible bands over the ensuing years.
Among the most striking and unexpected of these was the one-off trio formed with Ara Tokatlian and Guillermo Bordarampé, both of whom were members of the Argentinian progressive rock group, Arco Iris, from the late 1960s into the '80s. While they only recorded one album together, 1975’s “Inspiración”, originally issued by Cabal, it’s an incredible stand-out in all three players’ careers; a marvel that’s remained largely hidden from the wider gaze until now.
Comprising six brilliant compositions that feature Villegas on piano, Tokatlian on a wide range of wind instruments, and Bordarampé on bass and percussion, “Inspiración” is a rare gesture of Latin American spiritual jazz, making nods to the contemporaneous work Pharaoh Sanders and Joe Henderson, among others, as well as that of John Coltrane from the previous decade. Soothing and serene, “Inspiración” is a cry to, for, and from the soul. Speaking of it earlier this year, Tokatlian recalled: “The music on this album, as well as the poems and art design, accurately reflect the emotional and spiritual state I was in during the early formation of Rainbow. The teachings of Dana, our spiritual guide, strengthened my conviction that there was a magical world of sounds and ideas waiting to be discovered…. I had the great honour of being accompanied by Enrique "Mono" Villegas and my soul brother Guillermo Bordarampé. Together we created an exquisite acoustic sound that will surely last in time… On the day of the recording I felt the encouragement of love and admiration from my two greatest mentors: Gustavo Santaolalla and Dana.”
Profoundly mediative, over “Inspiración”'s length, the stellar trio dance amongst each other with rhythm and tone, producing a music tinged with organic, real-time creativity and intuitive responsiveness, that feels completely natural and unlabored as it does rigorous, and the product of focused virtuosity. Unlike other contemporary efforts of Argentine jazz from this era - most notably “Bronca Buenos Aires” by Enrique Villegas’ regular collaborators, Jorge López Ruiz, that Altercat reissued last year - places the topical and political aside, favouring award spiritual temperaments and warmer, intoxicating sound.
Absolutely stunning and nothing short of a revelation, with the first ever vinyl reissue of Ara Tokatlian, Enrique Villegas, and Guillermo Bordarampé’s 1975 masterstroke, “Inspiración”, Altercat has done it again, delivering another crucial revelation form the shadows of Latin American musical history. A towering effort of jazz and spiritual jazz that has inexplicably remained in obscurity for decades, its stunning sounds are perfectly matched by its qualities as an object. Fully drawn from the original masters and housed in a sleeve that perfectly duplicates the beautifully designed original, it’s an absolute must for fans of Pharaoh Sanders, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, and spiritual jazz at large.