Double Homecoming: Dario Acosta Teich’s FOLKLORE Leaps From Argentine Folk Roots
to Bold Jazz Languages
Guitarist, composer, and bandleader Dario Acosta Teich, born and raised in one of Argentina’s folk epicenters, now rooted in New York City, makes music that merges sophisticated jazz and the Latin folk forms he was steeped in as a child. What emerges is a new, hybrid language of
expression. “Music is my first language,” Teich reflects. “It’s easier for me to play than to speak.”
On his latest album FOLKLORE (release date: May 20, 2022), Acosta Teich’s blended language speaks boldly. It resounds in shifting time signatures that never stray from the groove, in nimble guitar technique (“The Current”) and in complex musical concepts tempered by
intuition. Like Acosta Teich’s homeland, FOLKLORE extends from the Afro-Latin candombe of Rio de la Plata (“Sunset”) through the chacarera of the gauchos (“La Vuelta de Rosca”), to Andean huayno (“Encuentro”), using improvisation and experimental jazz to reconcile these
sounds and a keen longing for home.
Acosta Teich and his group will celebrate FOLKLORE’s release at Joe’s Pub on May 27, 2022 at 7 pm. Tickets and more information available here.
Acosta Teich’s first home of Tucumán, Argentina looms large in his creative world. There, he learned to speak music before he learned to use words. He grew up in a highly musical family
who for decades have been avid participants of the many peñas, or folk jam sessions, around his hometown. “I learned from those experiences about a very natural way of making music, one
that’s sincere and coming from instinct,” he recounts. “I studied formally and I love music theory, but I stay connected to that natural way. My pieces come from experimentation that’s guided by
a love for traditional Argentine sounds. It anchors me to the deeper, very personal reason I make music.”
This bond became bittersweet during several years of separation caused by the pandemic. While Acosta Teich was in New York, all of his beloved family was back home. “I haven’t seen my family in three years, the longest it’s ever been,” he notes.
To cultivate that connection despite great distance, Acosta Teich created pieces that honor the musical genres of Argentina’s diverse regions, exploring their rhythms, contexts, vibes, and melodic structures. ”Argentina is the thread running through FOLKLORE,” he explains. “Every
piece is a different genre that represents a different area. I play music with a mix of jazz and Latin languages, but the root is always the music from my town and country. I feel most connected to those roots.”
Some of these pieces intertwine with personal stories, such as “Tengo una Astilla,” which takes sonorous, slow vidala, the musical style heard in the mountains near Acosta Teich’s hometown,
to pay loving tribute to his late grandmother. Some paint a musical picture of local traditions,
such as the tinku-inspired “Fiesta Manka,” with its intricate swagger and elegant arrangement of sax and voice, hinting at the boisterous celebration held by the Aymara in Northern Argentina.
Yet Acosta Teich also pays homage to his chosen home, New York, with its multicultural, wildly creative jazz scene. He has never been satisfied to simply transmit folk songs or styles; he uses
his extensive composition training to open them up. He lets his fellow players bring their own languages to the table, and the result sounds like it could only happen in New York. Though Acosta Teich’s core group hails from Argentina (Franco Pinna on drums, Leo Genevese on piano and Fender Rhodes, and Julio Botti on saxophone), FOLKLORE features musicians
with a wide range of backgrounds and influences, notably House of Waters’ bassist Moto Fukushima. It also includes several guests: Brazilian cellist Jaques Morelenbaum, whose work with Jobim and others has led to comparisons with Yo Yo Ma; Snarky Puppy violinist Zach Brock;
guitarist Mike Stern (Blood Sweat & Tears, Miles Davis); and vocalist and songwriter Eleanor Dubinsky, who adds her lyrics and voice in soaring vocal lines that interplay with Botti’s sax. The result is music that speaks in its own distinct dialect of Latin folk and jazz, that leaps here, there,
and into the stratosphere.
“Perro Con Dos Colas” epitomizes how Acosta Teich turns separation and tension into connection on FOLKLORE. Acosta Teich composed a new setting and sang a poem by Argentine writer Bernardo Palombo, originally from Mendoza and a forty-year New York City resident. Using the image of a dog wagging two tails in happiness, Palombo’s poem chronicles
the joys of being both here and there, of loving New York while still finding contentment in past memories and connections to Argentina. Acosta Teich’s earthy voice and feather-light guitar
channel the poem’s sweetness and yearning as his band gently supports the song in dreamy waves and Mike Stern tears into a guitar solo with true New York grit.
Thanks to their shared native musical language, the musicians, many of whom perform with world renowned jazz superstars, can experiment freely with their folk roots.“FOLKLORE is like an intellectually edgy peña: You get together and improvise and explore, but you also bring in theory, sophisticated ideas, and intention,” he says. “We take our folk roots and fly together from there.”