Bassist Pablo Aslan has long been in the forefront of forging an alliance between jazz and the tango. His approach has been artful, keeping the body of the tango intact while letting jazz take the music into new pastures. His success can be seen in the music he has created with his band, Avantango, and through recordings like Buenos Aires Tango Standards (Zoho Music, 2007). When it was time for him to fire up Tango Grill Aslan went to Buenos Aires where he picked jazz and tango musicians to play his music.
The musicians play "a parilla" which means that they play without a written arrangement. They do not move far from the arrangements or harmonies of the tango, but take a few liberties to add some jazz inflected variations. The balance is well wrought here giving the music tang and punch that is woven deep into the emotive fabric of both streams.
Aslan's arrangements set the textures, making them throb in the passion of the rhythmic pulse. The band helps realize thisthey are votaries of the tango and imbued with enough insight to extrapolate the compositions without compromising the inherent feel.
Tradition marks "El Amanecer" which was written in the 1920s. The richness of the tango is captured at the outset by the conversation between Aslan, Nestor Marconi (bandoneon) and Ramiro Gallo (violin). The rhythm is earthy, the lines drawn deep into the pulse that shifts, the melody dancing on the plucked strings of the violin and the broad swath of the bow. And as the melody ebbs and flows, Aslan gives it a deep, vibrant tone. The final figure in the mix is Nicola Ledesma whose piano is a sparkling fount of ideas.
"La Trampera" is joyous and exhilarating, the beat set into motion by Daniel Piazzolla on the drums. The mood is extended by the others, until Bergalli reins it in and gives the melody a simmering body through his intonation which is balmy at one moment and spits fire the next. Gallo illuminates the tune as Piazzolla lays down crisp inflections on the drums. Aslan evokes the harmony of the composition while adding the dynamic of jazz. Abel Rogantini sits in perfectly in his duality of tempo and compelling use of chords to complement his runs. Together they turn individual vision into a collective work of stunning impact.
That the band is tuned into the music is beyond the pale of doubt, but the fact that they are also in consonance to make tradition and intuition comfortable partners, makes this CD an expressive messenger for tango-jazz.
Personnel: Pablo Aslan: bass; Nestor Marconi: bandoneon; Nicolas Ledesma: piano; Abel Rogantini: piano; Ramiro Gallo: violin; Gustavo Bergalli: trumpet; Daniel Piazzolla: drums.