Raul Barboza - accordion
Horacio Castillo - guitar
INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF A TRAVELLING ACCORDIONIST
Departures, returns and detours
‘Invierno en París' - winter in Paris . . . When it's winter in Paris it's summer in Argentina. All our compatriots who return home know the experience, which we relive with every trip: you take the plane here in midwinter and when you arrive over there you're bathed in sunlight and you feel like a new person. It's as if this sudden change of season, this flood of light, this heat constitutes a metaphor for the change that occurs inside us when we return home; it represents the need to reengage with the culture of our origins, the need to go back to our roots. After playing a lot, living a lot, travelling a lot (both inside and outside Argentina), Raúl Barboza set his suitcases down in Paris a little over twenty years ago.
He brought in his luggage a very special kind of music, music he knows like the back of his hand and plays on an instrument of which he is an undisputed virtuoso. With the firm resolve never to betray that music, he set out to make the French and the Europeans enjoy it. Mission accomplished . . . The music in question is called the chamamé (pronounced in Argentina with initial ‘tch', as it's written). It is a folk genre that comes from the north-eastern region of the country, known as the ‘Litoral argentino' or ‘Mesopotamia'. The chamamé is music of a cheerful, lively character, built on a combination of rhythms in duple time (played by the accordionist's right hand) and triple time (played by the left hand). This rhythmic and melodic interplay produces a style that dances as a matter of course. And if the tango and the bandoneon are the music and the instrument that we are used to identifying not only with a city (Buenos Aires) but with a whole country, then it has to be pointed out that in Argentina there are other sounds, other rhythms that are just as beautiful, just as rich, just as spellbinding. These are precisely the musics that Raúl Barboza gives us a chance to discover or rediscover on this album: chamamé, rasguido doble, chamarrita, and more In ‘Invierno en París', the artist, in his maturity, has decided to tell us something of his life, to speak of his travels, his encounters . . . He expresses this, not without a certain nostalgia, in the rich sonorities of his accordion, often in dialogue with a guitar.
Yes, Raúl Barboza invites us on a journey with two travelling companions, since he plays almost all the compositions in duo with the young guitarist Horacio Castillo. This musician is from Misiones, the province located in the far north-east of the country, ust beside Paraguay and Brazil, and close to province of Corrientes, where the chamamé comes from.
The itinerary of ‘Invierno en París' begins in the French capital, with instrumental music derived from a few lines of verse to which the city inspired the musician:
"un hombre en la calle "A man in the street
que sufre de frío who suffers from the cold;
el perro a su lado the dog beside him
lo sufre también" suffers too"
Then, without a transition, he takes us straight to his country, at once distant and near at hand - Argentina (‘Mi tierra lejana'), where we find him, as is only to be expected, playing a chamamé . . . As a souvenir of the city he has just left, ‘Confidence de nacre', the third theme on the album, reminds us that Barboza's accordion can also turn on the charm in a typically French waltz. In ‘Lagrimas de Curuzu', we meet another kind of song, that of filiation, of nostalgia for childhood: through this theme he evokes his father, who composed its tune many years ago. Don Adolfo Barboza used to sing in Guarani to his own guitar accompaniment; it was he who gave his seven-year-old son the instrument from which he would never be parted, and which he taught himself to play: the accordion (a small two-row one, Raúl tells me). Quite naturally, his accordion borrows all the chamarrita rhythms heard in these countries, in Uruguay (‘Capibara') and Brazil (‘Brasilereando'). While transforming itself and deploying myriad colours, it always remains personal and original. As you will have gathered by now, this album constantly travels back and forth between two continents, between valse, chamamé and chamarrita, to end up in Paris. In a surge of affection, Raúl Barboza celebrates in music the district he lives in at present, the Latin Quarter (‘Barrio Latino').
In this return to the land of memory, it was inconceivable not to include Astor Piazzolla who encouraged Raúl with words of praise when he was taking his first steps in Paris. The hommage is a poetic distillation of ‘Adiós Nonino', one of the master's major themes, which he plays as a solo, and which is transfigured by the sound of the accordion, as nostalgic as a bandoneon but singular in the extreme.
Finally, in this journey made up of incessant to-ings and fro-ings, a new ‘winter in Paris' is announced: it's another version of ‘Invierno en París' that concludes the disc. A return (or a new departure, who knows?) perpetually renewed by Barboza's accordion, which guides us towards music as fine as it is unexpected. Raúl and his inseparable companion the accordion allow us to travel in music between his ‘here' and his ‘there'. But in the end the region and the season are of little importance: what matters is that his music abolishes all frontiers, leaving us only the emotion and the shared musical pleasure.