Making his U.S. debut, jazz pianist Carlos Aguirre fuses elements of music from his native Argentina with jazz, folk and more.
Aguirre, 49, started playing piano at 5, picked up guitar as a teenager, and began flute as an adult. He learned to compose, weaving the rhythms of his country through jazzy improvisations.
Q: How long have you been a musician?
A: I’ve been playing professionally since I was 15 and I think I will never stop playing but maybe I will stop someday in public. For me being a musician means more than the years of practicing and composing, it is more of a way of life, a path that is even spiritual.
Q: What was some of the music from the U.S. that you grew up listening to?
A: I would have to say Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans and lots of pianists. I also listen to Gary Burton and Herbie Hancock. There are so many more.
Q: I’m not sure if the proper term would be Latin Jazz but it seems like you are trying to combine different elements of Spanish and jazz in your composing.
A: I have always been curious in learning the different rhythms of Latin America countries so I hope to bring that to the States.
Q: What are some other rhythms from Latin America that you encountered?
A: Peruvian waltzes are one of my favorites, along with Maracatu, which is an Afro-Brazilian dance, and Joropo that is another waltz variation from Venezuela.
Q: With the music you do currently, what original genres stemmed from that?
A: While I did listen to classical music and jazz, the strengths came from Argentina. Not so much tango but folk music. The music I listened to came from the more rural areas of the country.
Q: What were some of those forms?
A: One I know is called Chacareras, which is a form found in the Northeastern part of the country in the Indian mountains. Chamames is another, which is kind of an Argentinian version of the polka.
Q: When you’re on tour, how do you explain these musical references?
A: There is a proof of universality in musical language and people don’t need to know to a great depth. The message is still able to reach them. Different performers transcend music from their place of origin to something more universal.
Q: How do you hope to catch the attention of this audience?
A: Especially coming to a country that has so many musicians that I admire, I really prioritize communication, even the music aside, to bring the smell or the aroma of my home.
Q: What is that aroma like?
A: Well I live in the city of Parana, which is on the banks of the river, which is also, called Parana. The city is very closely related to that river. It is very calm and tranquil. Also, I live in a neighborhood of fishermen.
Q: So it is kind of like Charleston a little bit, with the Ashley and Cooper rivers.
A: Yes it is, and I think that’s great!
Kevin Garcia is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.