Roberto Goyeneche's distinctive singing captures perfectly the louche and bohemian ambiance of 1950s-era tango, evoking a lifestyle even more than a musical genre. Then again, it's a bit of a stretch to call this singing . . . Goyeneche's performances linger at the halfway point between vocals and declamation, sounding more like a spirited exhortation to true believers. He cuts off his phrases, rolls his consonants, and never really settles into the melody -- almost the antithesis of the great Carlos Gardel. Goyeneche's nickname was El Polaco
(the Pole), due to his blonde hair, but his mood is pure Argentinean, especially on this wistful track with its celebration of the spirit of Buenos Aires.
You may have heard this haunting theme on the soundtrack to the film The Tango Lesson
. Diaz eerily evokes the sound of the bandoneón on his harmonica. Yet one can also hear hints of the U.S. harmonica tradition here, and the spirit of what is called the "deep blues" permeates this performance. Blind from the age of five, Diaz moved as a teenager to Buenos Aires, where his music encompassed everything from traditional folk songs to jazz. He met Larry Adler and Toots Thielemans in Europe during the 1950s, and later had the opportunity to play with Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson in the United States. But Diaz did not make a tango recording until 1972, when he shifted from his typical folkloric material to present this remarkable track. His emotional affinity with the tango stands out on "Milonga Triste," and his work in this vein found a receptive audience. Diaz made several more tango recordings -- much cherished by fans although often hard to find -- before his death in 1975.
Gary Burton had worked in Stan Getz's band in the 1960s, and saw firsthand how Getz's advocacy of bossa nova and willingness to collaborate with Brazilian musicians had revitalized his career and created a sensation in the music world. Two decades after leaving Getz, Burton embarks on a similar venture with the greatest Argentinean musician of the modern era, the brilliant tango composer and performer Astor Piazzolla. This promising meeting of jazz music and nuevo tango
did not climb to the top of the charts, and posed no commercial match for that tall & tan & young & lovely girl who strolled past the Veloso bar-cafe in Rio. But this is a important recording, nonetheless, and one wishes that it had led to follow-up projects of similar scope. Burton here adapts to Piazzolla's compositions, and does so admirably, although with perhaps a little too much respect -- after all, Getz himself was fond of saying that irreverence was an essential attribute of a great jazz player. Maybe a dose of it would have been in place in this setting. I would have liked to hear one or two numbers in which the roles were reversed, with the great bandoneónist and his colleagues immersed in some heady modern jazz tunes; or perhaps (heaven forbid) a jazzier assault on one of Piazzolla's own cherished numbers.
December 26, 2007 · 1 comment
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