Ruben Lopez Furst: Jazz Argentino En La Universidad

By: Trevor Pour

In 1951, a young Ruben “Baby” Lopez Furst made his debut performance on the Buenos Aires jazz scene at the age of fourteen. In the years to come, Furst would transform into one of the premiere jazz pianists in Argentina’s history, his impact shaping generations to follow. The re-release of Jazz Argentino/Jazz En La Universidad (Vampisoul) brings the musical legacy of “Baby” back into the spotlight of the modern jazz listener.

Tracks 1-7 of this release are from the award-winning studio album Jazz Argentino (1967), while tracks 8-15 constitute Jazz en la Universidad (1966), a live recording from the Auditorium of the Universidad Nacional de Litoral in Santa Fe in ’64. Both original albums were played by the Rubén López Furst trio, with Furst on piano, Jorge Gonzalez on bass and Nestor Astarita on drums.

Furst’s style is one of calm and delicate melody paired with complex harmonies. While a superficial listener may mistake Furst’s work for generic “cocktail party” jazz, his technique displays an intellectual evolution from the hot jazz/swing sounds of his early career to the post-bop and modern jazz elements of his later years. To be fair to those casual listeners, however, Furst did indeed contribute his talent to a number of advertising jingles and film soundtracks during his career; While Argentina has a rich history of jazz, the narrow market forced many musicians of his time – as well as today – to find alternate sources of income. However, none of those ventures takes anything from the quality of his real work. Furst was dedicated to his craft and Jazz Argentino En La Universidad is a beautiful display of that dedication.

“Baby” passed away on June 26, 2000, yet his music is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. The opening bars of “Abeja Durmiente” are as touching as any piano ballad, while still retaining a strong sense of Furst’s playful spirit. Fast-paced and lively, “Stella by Starlight” evokes images of his agile hands, effortlessly improvising during that 1964 Santa Fe performance. The horn accompaniment of Ruben Barbieri (trumpet) and Jorge Anders (tenor sax) on “Al Este Del Sol” and “Cartas De Amor” gives these cuts added depth and intricacy. Jazz Argentino En La Universidad constantly varies in tempo, making the entire album an easy yet stimulating experience. I highly recommend checking out this re-release; truly as genuine and honest as the man behind it.

JamBase | Argentina
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