Argentinean tenor sax player Julieta Eugenio is adding a distinctly fresh voice to New York City’s still vibrant jazz scene. In 2021, Eugenio joined friends Matt Dwonszyk and Jonathan Barber — a bassist and drummer respectively — in Connecticut to hike, hang out, play music, and escape city life as the musicians struggled to eke out a living and to continue to create and perform.
What started as a respite resulted in an electrifying debut album that is an evocative reflection of our times. Comprising eight originals and two standards, Jump
buzzes with life-affirming force and a primordial undercurrent forged in hope.
Heightened by the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic, the trio presents a compelling portrait of the intricacies that make up the fabric of life in moments of reflection and ecstasy, as well as a panoply of shades in between. Eugenio’s exploratory zeal is evident from the onset on “Efes,” a rhythmically mischievous tune driven by Dwonszyk’s intense, hypnotic groove on bass — you can hear him breathe as he extracts and elongates notes — and Eugenio’s warm-toned, meandering sax gently sketching out a playfully dark melody.
The trio’s shared vernacular solidifies early on. On the title track, Barber’s clashing cymbals slice through the heavy mood with melodramatic effect. A ruminating bass solo makes the brooding ballad “For You” poignantly haunting. Ever-present dichotomies are expertly teased and shaped on “La Jungla,” during which an invigorating exchange recalls the unsettling cacophony of living in a dense concrete jungle; only here, the dissonance is transformed into freewheeling synergy with Barber providing the propulsive kick that carves out space for Eugenio’s languorous phrasing. And the trio’s sultry take on the standard “Flamingo,” accented by lush hand drums, evokes the South American rhythms that Eugenio melds with hard bop melodies.
The idea of freedom in nature, art and life is driven home by the closer, “Tres,” capturing a moment in time in which that freedom was much longed for. — Lissette Corsa