(Pablo Aslan, bass; Abel Rogantini, piano; Jorge Retamoza, tenor & baritone sax; Gustavo Bergalli, trumpet; Daniel Piazzolla, drums)
There’s been a raft of tango albums from classical performers trying to give a different spin on Argentina’s musical gift to the world. But no really successful jazz spin on the tango until now. Aslan, a native of Buenos Aires, has assembled a fine quintet of local players, and with his experience with a previous group – Avantango – which also used jazz to freshen the tango – he has created a thoroughly-realized amalgam of both musical forms which doesn’t sound forced or corny in any way. In fact some of Bergalli’s trumpet solos in this setting may harken one back to the Miles Davis Quintet of the 60s.
Eight great Argentina composers of tangos are honored in the eight tracks of the disc – with a paragraph on each one – and Piazzolla is not one of them. Besides the wide coverage of his music, another reason for that might be that much of Piazzolla’s music already incorporates jazz into it. (Interesting that the group’s drummer is named Piazzolla – no explanation of a possible connection is mentioned in the notes.) There’s also no bandoneon in the ensemble. Pianist Rogantino is terrific. There’s actually little of the usual tango rhythmic devices in either the piano or the drums, but the showdowy, threatening feeling of the old tango culture is still there. A fascinating project and totally successful musically!
Tracklist: La Cachila, Tina Verde, El Pollo Ricardo, Loca Bohemia, Bahia Blanca, Ventarron, Don Agustin Bardi, De Puro Guapo.
– John Henry