Guillermo Nojechowicz re-casts family history as jazz

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Drummer and composer, Guillermo Nojechowicz draws upon the instance of finding a passport from the 1930s issued to his grandmother and his dad. The 10 songs on “Puerto de Buenos Aires 1933” tell the story of Nojechowicz’s relatives fleeing Poland as Nazis were coming to power. The harrowing experience is captured through contemporary jazz elements, including a vocalist. With his ensemble El Eco, Nojechowicz manages to re-create a segment of history that is both private and public.

¬†Guillermo Nojechowicz and “Puerto de Buenos Aires 1933”

Nojechowicz studied film scoring at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and later studied with drummer Duduka Da Fonseca in New York.

It was on a trip home to Buenos Aires that the musician happened upon the passport. The things he knew about his family became all-too real with the images of his grandmother and father on the passport. His father was little more than a toddler at the time.

The resulting story is of risk-taking in order to survive, and believing in the promise of a better life far away from the world you have known.

In the second song, “Trains” listeners find out that Nojechowicz’s grandfather is already waiting for his grandmother and father in Buenos Aires. The song, like so many on the album is haunting in its truth. On “Trains” vocalist Kim Nazarian sings lyrics that provide the narration about what is happening to the mother and son pair. For most of the songs, the lyrics constitute emotional interpretation of what is happening at that point in the narrative.

The songs’ arrangement and the visuals in the liner notes give audiences a means to understand everything that El Eco and Nojechowicz present.

El Eco and Nojechowicz

In addition to Nazarian, El Eco is comprised of Helio Alves, piano; Fernando Huergo, bass; Marco Pignataro, tenor and alto saxophone; Brian Lynch, trumpet, and Nojechowicz on drums, percussion and vocals.

The music covers a wide range of sounds. The range goes from energetic, classic jazz, to the bouncy, percussion-rich rhythm of “I Love You, Too.” The touching aspect of this song is the way other voices join Nazarian’s. The result is a full-sounding piece. Even when the voice parts complete, and the instrumentation takes over,¬† the piano and saxophone continue a kind of up and down motif that makes listeners want to hear where it will go.

Even without liner notes and other documents to explain what El Eco and Nojechowicz are trying to do with “Puerto de Buenos Aires 1933” the idea of leaving one place and re-establishing the family in another are present. The artifacts from his family history that Nojechowicz opts to share with listeners only enrich the experience of listening to this album.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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