Pelo de Rata

04/01/2023Altercat Records Reissues Little-Known Solo Album By Chilean Jazz Pianist Matías Pizarro

Starting where we left off, we dare say, there's nothing like a healthy introductory dose of visionary Latin American jazz to get back into the flow of things. Towards the end of last year, the always stellar Berlin-based imprint Altercat Records surprised us with an Argentinian jazz double-header and a welcome follow-up to the label's 2021-released reissue of Jorge López Ruiz's project Viejas Raíces. We mention that because said seminal figure of the Argentinian jazz scene might also be considered the common denominator of afore-mentioned double-header. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let us first take a closer look at the initial re-release of this tantalising solo album by Chilean pianist Matías Pizarro.

Immediately following Pinochet's bloody coup d'état and rise to power in September 1973, a 24-year-old Matías Pizarro fled to neighbouring Argentina and landed in Buenos Aires. Pizarro had already studied in Berkley amidst "an emerging new wave of musicians" and was linked to several influential Chilean projects as a musician, composer and arranger. Word of his arrival consequently "spread like wildfire in the local jazz scene," where he quickly found a musical home and "became one third of the Viejas Raíces project alongside local jazz heroes Jorge López Ruiz and Pocho Lapouble." And in 1975, towards the end of his only two year stay, Pizarro recorded his mind-blowing solo album.

Comprising seven of his own compositions, "Pelo de Rata" (or "Rat's Hair") was recorded alongside fellow Chilean Alejandro Rivero on quena and charango, Swedish bassist Bo Gathu, Uruguayan saxophonist Finito Bingert as well as the percussion of Pocho Lapouble, "El Zurdo" Roizner and Domingo Cura. The longplayer "draws from the US jazz fusion currents of the time (think Chick Corea and Miles Davis), adding an undeniable Latin American character, all projected through Pizarro's own musical prism," the album description reads. Oddly enough, while the first notes remind us of Air's "All I Need" (from their album "Moon Safari), the journey is all jazz, scattered with dreamy ventures into the unknown, occasional vocals and artistic virtuosity, delicately crafted and beautifully arranged with utmost clarity, both wondrous, riveting and heartfelt. 

The record is accompanied by an eight-page booklet with photos and liner notes by Argentinean journalist Humphrey Inzillo. You can stream the full album below. Highly recommended!

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom