Juan Pastor El Regreso
Drummer/percussionist and composer Juan Pastor finds himself caught between two homes: his native Lima, Peru, and the city where he has lived for the past 13 years, Chicago. As a result, both his original compositions and the sound of his ensemble, Chinchano, draw life from deep sources - Peru’s enchantingly diverse culture, history, landscapes, and folk music, and the language of North American Jazz. Pastor evokes his multifaceted story poignantly on his new recording, El Regreso (Quinto Pulso, 2019). Pastor begins his story with a lively arrangement of Wilfredo Franco Laguna's Mayoral, the album’s sole cover and a beloved Peruvian song, whose lyrics call out the oppressive racism of Spanish colonialism. Juan’s drums animate the arrangement with a powerful Afro-Peruvian “Festejo” dance rhythm, and special guest percussionists Makarito Nicasio and Edu Campos (both members of the acclaimed ensemble Peru Negro) join the rhythm section.
In addition to energetically guiding Chinchano from the drums, Pastor’s original compositions highlight his skill as a musical storyteller. Callejón evokes a forgotten time in Old Lima, when neighbors would gather in the alleys to draw water from communal fountains. In a parallel fashion, the ensemble gathers together musically, drawing inspiration and creativity from each other, while guest percussionist Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón’s spoken verse illustrates the narrative. Supported by Pastor’s driving polyrhythms, guest saxophonist Miguel Zenón (MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow) takes a fiery solo. “We’re delighted to feature Miguel on three tracks,” explains Pastor, “his music and creative voice has always been an inspiration for us.” Harmonically-open and rhythmically-rich, Pastor’s Roma is a dynamic tale of love, and features passionate solos from alto saxophonist Rich Moore, guest guitarist Matt Gold, and Pastor himself. Equally dynamic is the album’s title track, Pastor’s El Regreso (The Return), which is aptly named, as it illustrates Juan’s emotional experience returning to Lima in 2018, and returning to Chicago almost a year later.
Chinchano owes its uniquely impassioned sound to Juan Pastor’s life experience,caught between two worlds, leaving and retrning to both. The nostalgic Peruvian melodies and electrifying South American percussion rhythms blend beautifully with the North American Jazz harmonies and Chicago blues aesthetic, and once again, Juan Pastor proves he has a captivating story to tell.