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Artist Profiles

Pipi Piazzolla: Argentina's Rhythm Shark

By Published: May 10, 2008
Piazzolla is raising his daughter with the same kind of emphasis on curiosity. During a recent gig at the Buenos Aires club Thelonious, she darted back and forth through the audience as her father played with Argentos, a group lead by the trumpeter Richard Nant that is another important exponent of the new Argentine jazz. At home, Piazzolla has surrounded her with musical instruments but is letting her discover them on her own. When she hears an especially catchy jingle on a commercial, she'll have no shortage of ways to express her enthusiasm.

This sense of curiosity and possibility amidst the palpable influence of the Argentine tradition was not only key to Piazzolla's musical upbringing (and the musical upbringing he's giving his daughter), it informs the kind of music he plays today. Escalandrum is nothing if not a developed version of what Piazzolla found in his home: the band is steeped in Astor Piazzolla's "new tango" and traditional Argentine music, but it let's the influences swirl in the background as it pursues a course of relentless curiosity.

"The other day I was composing a song," Piazzolla says, "and this might seem like a lie, but...later I was rehearsing it with a trio and one of the guys said to me, 'this part has a lot of tango in it.' That hadn't occurred to me at all, but it was there, inside of me, and it came out—and I don't listen to tango. Yes, my grandfather is Astor Piazzolla, and I've listened to that a lot, but that's not what I have playing on the stereo all day. It's in my blood, it's in the air, and what's in the air sticks to you—it's like the accent here."

Now, after two years spent touring Europe, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, and playing over 100 shows in Argentina, Escalandrum is releasing its fifth album, Visiones—a continuation of the band's recent path that Piazzolla believes documents a marked increase in power and maturity. Following the release of the album, Escalandrum will hold court at Thelonious on Saturday nights in June, and then depart on tours of Europe and Colombia.

There aren't many jazz bands in the world that have the opportunity to play together so often for such an extended period of time. It's the kind of experience that nurtures a band's sound, allowing it to discover its true voice, and letting the musicians develop the kind of interplay that elevates a bunch of excellent players into a great ensemble. With the rhythmic curiosity of its leader driving the music into ever more daring terrain, Escalandrum strides forward at the vanguard of the new Argentine jazz.

Selected Discography

Escalandrum, Visiones, (MDR, 2008)

Escalandrum, Misterioso, (MDR, 2006)

Guillermo Klein, Una Nave, (Sunnyside, 2005)

Argentos, Manifestando, (ArgentosJazz, 2005)

Escalandrum, Sexteto en Movimiento, (Independent, 2004)

Escalandrum, Estados Alterados, (Independent/Milan, 2002)

Piazzolla Jr. Band, Piazzolla by Piazzolla, (Milan, 2000)

Escalandrum, Bar Los Amigos, (Independent, 2000)

Photo Credits

All photos courtesy of Daniel "Pipi" Piazzolla

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