Where do they find them? Those intrepid sound seekers at We Are Busy Bodies look set to keep on delivering. Following their bountiful dig through the ‘As-Shams‘ back catalogue of seminal South African jazz, the Toronto based label have switched their attention momentarily to the equally hip Venezuelan seventies scene. The result of these new explorations comes with the announcement of two soon-come album releases ‘De Repente’ (‘Suddenly’) by Virgilio Armas Trio and ‘Epejismo’ (‘Mirage’) by Virgilio Armas Y Su Grupo , both available from 28th October.
It may have been submerged over time by the sheer volume of Brazilian music that has snatched all the attention but jazz making in Caracas during the seventies was just as vivacious. Virgilio Armas, pianist, band leader and composer was key to shaping this vital Venezuelan sound during such heady times and these two albums marked significant points in his own story.
A well-weathered club-land performer, Armas had released the ‘Estamos En Algo’ LP in 1968 as part of the boogaloo ensemble Sexteto Fantasia but a couple of years later he was emerging as a front-liner. The De Repente album from 1970 captures him heading up his own post bossa trio with long-time partners Rodolfo Buenaño (bass) and Guillermo Tariba (drums). These players also formed the rhythmic heartbeat of the Armas-lead quintet that three years on delivered the more atmospheric and airy Epejismo.
The two tracks available now as tasters from the forthcoming albums highlight the contrast and continuity between the recordings. The trio’s version of Ellington’s ‘C Jam Blues’ from De Repente is a thrilling romp through a seasoned classic. Taken fast with a rolling swing and powered by Armas’s virtuosic drive, the shoulder dipping chops and slick percussive shots hint at those Latin flavours. Armas has acknowledged that such essences, particularly from Venezuelan music, were more prominent on the Epejismo album. You can catch this immediately on the record’s sun kissed preview cut ‘Sombre El Orinoco’ which bursts from a gently rippling flute melody to one flamboyant bossa breakdown, whipped up by Armas’s vamping chord stabs and giddy runs.
So there you have it, two tasters, two albums but one conclusion – if you’re into Latin jazz, hard- bossa or music that’s timelessly cool then these releases will be a must have.
You can pre-order copies of both ‘De Repente’ and ‘Epejismo’ direct from: https://wearebusybodies.bandcamp.com/music