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Emilio Solla y la Orquestrable: Suite Piazzollana

Dan McClenaghan By

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If you haven't developed a taste for the tango, a love for the gentle sighing breeze of the squeezebox, then Emilio Solla's Suite Piazzollana might seem to be inhabiting a space out in music's left field. The musical pallet, for the American ear, is a bit unusual: two saxophones, trumpet, cello, violin, bandoneon, bass, drums, and cajon y tinaja (percussion), and Emilio Solla's piano.

For those not familiar with the bandoneon (Astor Piazzolla's instrument; more later), it is actually a type of celeste, imported from Germany to Argentina in the mid-nineteenth century, where it found a niche—a dominant one—in tango music. It's sound is light and airy, very accordion-like, a gentle, wheezing breeze, and it, like squeeze boxes of all sorts, really, is, lamentably, a neglected instrument in American jazz.

The Suite Piazzollana is three part classical, two parts jazz, and was composed by Emilio Solla in honor of the great Argentine composer/bandoneon genius, Astor Piazzolla, a man who took the plebian Argentine dance music and lifted it to startling new heights.

Solla's reverent suite is a thing of beauty—by turns ethereal, fiery, delicate, fierce, gentle, using the pallet of the tango orchestra that might be, for those who have never experienced Piazzolla, a very new experience.

Comparisons are hard to come by: The Miles Davis/Gil Evan Sketches of Spain album, perhaps (Solla is an Argentine, five members of la Orquestable are Spanish); or Dave Douglas's A Thousand Evenings CD, with an expanded line-up.

Two gut reactions upon encountering this music: one, the free reed bandoneon sound entwined with the saxophones accentuates the 'reediness' of the saxophones—it's easy to be beguiled by the brassy, throaty, growling attributes the horns, but beside the bandoneon, the vibration of the reed comes to the forefront of the ear's perception; and two, it is an unusual, beautiful juxtaposition.

The jazziest section of The Suite is "Ratos"; Benet Palet takes an extended solo on trumpet, and the colors the Orquestrable paints behind him makes the piece sound very much like a Gil Evan/Miles Davis collaboration, something off of Miles Ahead.

Gorgeous music, difficult to categorize, and certain to arouse a curiosity in the music of Astor Piazzarolla.

Track Listing: I. Rotas (1. Milonga, 2. After-milonga, 3. Otro Buena Aires, 4. Volver que? II. Ratos 5. Ratos III. 6. Tarso, 7. Tierra adentro, 8. Tierra afuera 9. Metatarso 10. Finale; Mi Buenos Aires Blues, Adios, Noneto, Milonga (extended mix)

Personnel: Benet Palet, trumpet; Chris Cheek, saxophones; Gorka Benitez sax and flute; Jorge Rossy drums; Emilio Solla, piano; Omer Avital, bass; Juanjo Mosalini, bandoneon; Manuel del Fresno, cello; David Ballesteros, violin; David Gomez, cajon bateria y tinaja

Title: Suite Piazzollana | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Blue Moon


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