Tango jazz is described as a sound created by Argentine musicians, many of whom have immigrated to other countries. Pianist Emilio Solla, based in New York, is such an artist.
Solla earned a degree in classical piano from the National Conservatory of Music in Buenos Aires. His works include such style as Argentinean tango, classical, rock and jazz. Bien Sur! is his sixth album as a leader. The Tango Jazz Conspiracy is comprised of saxophonist Chris Cheek, bassist Jorge Roeder, drummer Richie Barshay and accordionist Victor Prieto. A few guest musicians also make appearances.
"Remain Alert" begins with an alarm, sounded by Prieto on the Galician bagpipe. Then as the song picks up, Cheek takes lead on soprano sax. Solla, Roeder and Barshay show off their skills in the background. Prieto solos on accordion, backed only by Barshay at first. Later, Cheek, Solla and Roeder join in. The playing is frantic but focused. The title takes a sarcastic swipe at public officials who issue warnings or take away freedoms in the name of keeping people safe.
Drummer Billy Hart takes the chair on "Hartbeat," a song written for him by Solla. Cheek plays the tenor on this soft, charming piece. Hart's varied textures on the cymbals help supplement the piano solo.
The tambore trio of Arturo Prendez, Manuel Silva and Ramon Echegaray provides the Urugauyan rhythm to "Candombley." With Solla out front, the song begins softly but quickly gains momentum as the tambores and drums liven up.
Only a few of these selections sound like a tango, but that doesn't take anything away from the rest. All have a Latin jazz feel, and some have a bit of African influence. Each track of Bien Sur! stands well on its own. Collectively, it's a solid effort throughout.
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