When most people think of the accordion, jazz isn't the first style of music that comes to mind - maybe polka, zydeco, conjunto or a bar mitzvah band, but not jazz.
In the hands of Manny Bobenrieth, the accordion is definitely a jazz instrument. Bobenrieth, a Chilean now based near Washington, D.C., earned the first-ever degree in music performance on accordion from Catholic University, and his first CD release, Tangata , proves him to be a true virtuoso on the often maligned instrument.
The album focuses on the music of Astor Piazzolla, the Argentinean tango master, whose music has previously been interpreted by jazz artists like Gary Burton, Charlie Byrd and Phil Woods, as well as by the Kronos Quartet. Piazzolla is the perfect vehicle for Bobenrieth and his fine sextet of accordion, piano, vibes, guitar, violin and bass. The ensemble moves adroitly through eight of Piazzolla's richly romantic, multi-textured compositions, plus two by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Cole Porter's "I Love You, Samantha." The group interplay is exceptional, the arrangements complex and exciting, and the whole album has a lush, tropical feel. And the players deliver plenty of the emotion that is at the heart of the tango - passion.
Bobenrieth takes his place at the head of the pack of jazz accordionists; more importantly, he's delivered an album of memorable music that bodes well for his future.