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Friday December 19, 2014
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Pablo Ziegler Quintet

 

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Piazzolla was a bandoneón player who wanted to become a classical composer and went to study in France. His music, instrumental and vocal, mixed tango rhythms with harmonies that could have come out of Stravinsky or Poulenc, full of devices like tango fugues.

Piazzolla's mixture didn't go over so well in Argentina initially — he was beaten up on the street by traditionalists on one occasion — but it turned out that his Quinteto Tango Nuevo gave new life to a dance music genre from an era whose other styles are frozen in time. Not a week goes by now without the release of a new tango album, played by ensembles ranging from severe German wind quintets to Argentine rockers.

Until recently, however, this new diversity of tango fusions did not involve jazz; the sinuous, melancholy lines of Piazzolla's tangos sounded as if they were improvised but in fact were almost entirely written out. The situation has changed with Pablo Ziegler and his Quintet for New Tango.

In Piazzolla's later years, Ziegler — himself Argentine and classically trained — was the pianist in Quinteto Tango Nuevo. But though his group's name justifiably claims direct descent from Piazzolla, Ziegler does not approach Piazzolla as a slavish revivalist. Instead, he applies the resources of jazz, specifically bebop, to Piazzolla's New Tango music. He plays a few of Piazzolla's compositions, opening them up in various ways, but most of his pieces are originals.

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