Astor Piazzolla & Gary Burton: Milonga is Coming

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 bandone√≥nist 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


Al Di Meola: Milonga Del Angel

I have a passion for Piazzolla, and look with satisfaction on how the music of this great master of nuevo tango still lives on more than 15 years after his death -- although his influence flourishes mostly outside the perimeter of the jazz world. Piazzolla had some interactions with jazz players during his career, perhaps most notably in his 1986 live recording with Gary Burton, but I am nonetheless surprised at how little attention the jazzistas pay to his legacy. By comparison, the bossa, samba, reggae and salsa styles seem to have penetrated the jazz mind more deeply. But Piazzolla and the tango tradition are just as potent as these other idioms, and one could profitably spend years exploring their riches.

Al Di Meola has done just that. He has been an advocate of Piazzolla's music for more than a decade, and previously recorded "Milonga del Angel" on his Di Meola Plays Piazzolla CD. He now contributes an intimate solo version as part of his first-rate recent release Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar, Volume 1: Music of Astor Piazzolla. If you remember Al Di Meola for his fusion work and his stint with Return to Forever, you haven't experienced the full measure of his artistry. From the first, Di Meola had deep roots in World Music -- his flamenco flourishes are as authentic as you will find this side of the Atlantic, and his feel for the tango idiom could hardly be any deeper. This heartfelt performance is a fitting tribute to Piazzolla, and a reminder of how fine a guitarist Al Di Meola can be when placed in the right setting.

December 25, 2007 · 0 comments


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