Ara Tokatlian & Enrique Villegas


Altercat • 1978

The stock of forgotten albums that deserve a second listen seems inexhaustible. Berlin’s Altercat label, which specialises in reissuing lost musical treasures, has now released a spiritual jazz album that would probably have become a classic in its genre if only someone outside of South America had noticed it. Cairo-born saxophonist and member of the Argentinian prog-rock band Arco Iris, Ara Tokatlian has teamed up with Argentinian pianist Enrique »Mono« Villegas on »Inspiración,« while fellow band member Guillermo Bordarampé plays bass and percussion. The experimental arrangement is somewhat reminiscent of the 1962 album »Money Jungle« on which the young savages Charles Mingus and Max Roach challenged the traditionalist Duke Ellington to enter the musical present. Takatlian was 23 when Inspiración was recorded in 1975, Villegas already 62. The two musicians, separated by two generations, play as if spiritual jazz was invented in South America. The way the tenor sax, sparkling piano notes and percussion circle around each other on »Camino a Samarkanda,« building to a climax that never materializes, represents the best of the Pharoah Sanders school. And the mysterious »A la Sombra de los Dorados Budas«, built around Tokatlian’s flute playing, would have been right at home on John Coltrane’s last album »Expression«.