Pablo Aslan – Tango Grill – Zoho Music ZM 201003 *****:
(Pablo Aslan, bass; Mestor Marconi, bandoneon; Nicolas Ledesma, piano; Abel Rogantini, piano; Ramiro Gallo, violin; Gustavo Bergalli, trumpet; Daniel Piazzolla drums)
Recorded in Buenos Aires, this is a first rate mix of authentic tango and jazz, and only the latest of a series of albums from the New York-based, Argentine-born bassist. The term grill alludes not only to the cooking grill but also is a term tango musicians use for their improvised arrangements.
While there is no improvisation in strict tango as in jazz, but both musics got going about the same time early in the 20th century. The performers do take some liberties with the original tango tunes, as they were encouraged to do by Aslan. He chose classic but less well-known tangos for the 11 tracks here. This is not Hollywoodised tango, it has rough edges just like the originals, but with the added reharmonizations and swing of jazz. There’s even some jazz-style solos blown here and there.
Aslan says it is rare for a bass player to play melodies in a tango arrangement, but that is what he does here in some cases. The musicians try to suggest the phrasing and vocals of a tango singer, such as their revered Gardel. Fans of Piazzolla’s new tango should love this CD.
El Amanecer, Viejo Smocking, El Marne, La Payanca, Sin Palabras, Rencor, El Flete, Dandy, La Ultima Cita, Divina, La Trampera.
– John Henry