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The bass is usually an accompanying instrument, but in Buenos Aires Tango Standards, bassist and native Argentinean Pablo Aslan presents the instrument prominently to convey the stealth and sensuality of tango music.
When Aslan returned to his native Buenos Aires in 2005 after living in the US for twenty-five years, he found what he calls, "a fertile pool of musicians who were professionally and creatively engaged in both [the tango and the jazz] worlds. Alongside pianist Abel Rogantini, tenor and baritone saxophonist Jorge Retamoza, trumpeter Gustavo Bergalli and drummer Daniel Piazzolla, Aslan has created a stunningly inventive record that merges the dynamic relationship and improvisational skills of a virtuosic group with the lush compositions of influential tango composers like Eduardo Arolas and Agustin Bardi. Instead of adhering to the precision of tango, however, Aslan lets loose, giving his band mates free reign in interpreting the standards. At the same time, though, his quintet still accentuates traditional motifs.
"Loca Bohemia, composed by Francisco De Caro in the '20s, is a nostalgic, romantic piece in which Aslan shines. His earnest, bluesy bass makes the first move, remaining a notable and affecting voice in the rest of this song and leading Retamoza and Rogantini in a sentimental tango. The dialogue between the tenor sax and the piano is evocative and melodic, an improvisational discourse that threatens to enter post-bop jazz territory and leave tango behind.
Perhaps the most successful fusion is found in "De Puro Guapo, a composition written by Pedro Laurenz. The quintet's rendition is a sophisticated gem in which some of the musicians' best performances emerge. The bass is languorous and seductive, like a pair of lovers dancing the Argentine tango; the piano is soft and boundless in the range of emotions it evokes; and the percussion brings the tune to its fiery climax smoothly. The result is a song that is subtle like the steps of tango and imaginative like the extemporizations of jazz.
A native of the Argentinean capital, Aslan's knowledge of and passion for tango pulses through Buenos Aires Tango Standards. This record represents a marriage between tango and jazzand with such a well-versed ensemble, it is no wonder that the marriage is such a happy one.
Track Listing: La Cachila; Tinta Verde; El Pollo Ricardo; Loca Bohemia; Bahia Blanca; Ventarron; Don Agustin Bardi; De Puro Guapo.
Personnel: Pablo Aslan: bass; Abel Rogantini: piano; Jorge Retamoza: tenor and baritone sax; Gustavo Bergali: trumpet; Daniel Piazzolla: drums.