Gary Burton (with Astor Piazzolla): Mi Refugio
Gary Burton (vibes)
Astor Piazzolla Reunion: A Tango Excursion (Concord 4793-2)
Recorded: Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 2-5, 1996, and 1970
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
Burton's Astor Piazzolla Reunion CD brought together some of the musicians of the late Piazzolla's Nuevo Tango Quintet who had toured with Burton in 1986, a collaboration preserved on the album New Tango: Suite for Vibraphone and New Tango Quintet, recorded live at that year's Montreux Jazz Festival. The Reunion session ten years later presented lyrical and passionate interpretations of twelve Piazzolla compositions. However, the 13th and last track, "Mi Refugio," is perhaps the most intriguing.
Piazzolla recorded a series of solo bandoneon performances of classic tangos in 1970, released as Original Tangos from Argentina, Vol.1 and Vol. 2" "Mi Refugio" is a beautiful tango first introduced in 1922 by its composer, pianist Juan Carlos Cobián, one of the creators of the "tango-romanza" style. Piazzolla's 1970 solo recording of it alternates between melodic exposition and spare harmonic outlining, and so, as Burton said, it was "a duet arrangement waiting to happen." Burton wrote a new intro for himself to play, and he also plays along sensitively with Piazzolla on tape in a way that is both unobtrusive and elevating. The vibraphonist's lyrical, reverent intro delineates the tune's harmonies with much grace and skill. When Piazzolla begins his articulation of the theme, Burton just adds soft chords and arpeggios. Piazzolla's forceful lines mix with more sentimental and/or traditional voicings. As the bandoneonist switches to simply sketching the harmonies of the piece, Burton emerges to construct concise, entirely compatible phrases. The interweaving of the two instruments becomes more and more magical and mesmerizing as it progresses to a stunning denouement.
Reviewer: Scott Albin