Jazz trios have an economy that makes them risky. Yet it’s that risk that makes them exciting; how to get the most out of three musicians. Trios made up of rhythm instruments – piano, drums and bass – are particularly special. In the case of Ruben ‘Baby’ López Furst, the Argentinian pianist, and the trio session for ‘Jazz en la Universidad’, that special feeling is abundant. The balance of lightness and air with muscularity and drive makes the album worthy of repeated listens.
The 1966 album is a live recording cut at the Universidad Nacional de Litoral in Santa Fe, northeastern Argentina. It’s one of two albums he recorded, the other being ‘Jazz Argentino’ the following year, both featuring the same line up: Furst on piano and Jorge Gonzalez on bass and Nestor Astarita on drums.
What becomes immediately apparent is the effortless élan the trio display with the material, a mix of covers and some original numbers. Well-worn classics like ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ take on a new energy and verve at the hands of Furst and his band mates. It’s a joyous set and each listen uncovers new ideas and curious angles;
Lopez’s talent was familial – his brothers were also highly regarded musicians: Héctor a violinist and Lito a bassist. Ruben, born in 1937, started playing in clubs at the age of 14 in and around Buenos Aries and, unlike some of his contemporaries, did not leave Argentina to build a career in the USA or elsewhere. He stayed close to his roots, and perhaps his music is all the purer for it albeit with elements of the delicacy of Bill Evans (what 50s/60s jazz pianist wasn’t influenced by Evans?), yet not beholden to those influences. Ruben could swing hard and the session for ‘Jazz en la Universidad’ proves that, no question. He won numerous plaudits and awards form the Argentinian musical community over the years and died on July 25, 2000.
Contrabass – Jorge Gonzalez
Drums – Nestor Astarita
Piano – Rubén López Fürst