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Julieta Eugenio - Stay (Cristalyn)

25 March 2024

Stay is the perfect title for Julieta Eugenio’s second album. The Argentine saxophonist and composer indeed stays the course set by her 2022 debut Jump, with another set of chordless jazz backed by bassist Matt Dwonszyk and drummer Jonathan Barber. (Special guest Leo Genovese adds Rhodes piano to a pair of tracks.) That might be cause for concern if Stay sounded just like the first record, only less. Luckily, that’s not the case – if anything, it’s better. Between the rumbling grooves of “Blue” and “Trapped” to the introspective aura of the four-parter “Breathe,” Eugenio – who boasts a smooth, supple, and soulful sound on her sax – has found her niche and sticks to it, choosing to refine her approach, rather than stretch it out. Nothing wrong with that, especially when the results are as good as they are here – even Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady” fits right in, her probing tone right at home in the Duke’s intricate melodyland. Sophomore records often have the reputation of being let downs after a debut – not with Stay, which only elevates its creator’s vision.