Zoho Music was founded by Joachim "Jochen" Becker in 2003, rising out of the ashes of Khaeon World Music. Since that time, the label has released almost 80 recordings, garnering numerous Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations.
Zoho continues to thrive. Two recent recordings illustrate not only where the label is going but also offer a contrast between the musics of Argentina, as presented by bassist Pablo Aslan and Brazil, as offered by pianist Jon Gold. The former hosts the bossa nova while the latter claims the tango. Both are heated, humid musics that perfectly frame the climates from which they emerge.
Pablo Aslan has staked out a prominent place in the Zoho library. His previous recordings, Avantango (Zoho, 2004) and Buenos Aires Tango Standards (Zoho, 2007), were well received, displaying deft improvisation within the confines of the tango style. Aslan plays the nuevo tango pioneered by bandoneon and accordion player Astor Piazzolla, a variant of tango incorporating elements of jazz and classical musics. Aslan effectively expands Piazzolla's vision in the jazz realm, producing compelling vehicles for improvisation on Tango Grill.
What is thought of as tango today developed in Argentina and Uruguay in the mid-19th century as the result of European immigration to the region. With that immigration came the music of Europe, rubbing against the indigenous music. Tango is dance music, music of movement. The nuevo tango retains this element while allowing for improvisatory flights of creative fancy. Aslan has emerged as the master able to most efficiently and creatively coax the spirit from the music, expressing it with depth and breadth.
Among the many facets of tango Alsan explores is its highly percussive nature. The disc opener, "El Amanecer," is like a fine Argentinian antipasta, packed with distinctive and potent flavors. Aslan scratches arco while bandoneon player Nestor Marconi, violinist Ramiro Gallo and pianist Nicolas Ledesma use every method of extracting percussive tones from their respective instruments. This is lusty, red- wine music that celebrates the carnal in all its meanings. The band expresses a full tonal and sonic body. Gustavo Bergalli's trumpet on "Viejo Smocking" is round and warm, just short of hot. The song is, again, about movement and momentum.
And so goes the rest of this superb recital of tango-jazz mashups. Aslan possesses near perfect time and tone and is a intelligent director of his music. He surrounds himself with other excellent musicians who share his sharp and defined vision. Aslan's recordings get better with each release, making his next release one to look forward to.
Visit Pablo Aslan on the web.
Moving north from Argentina to Brazil, the music becomes creamier, more richly nuanced. San Francisco cum NYC native Jon Gold takes a more impressionistic approach to Brazilian music on Brazil Confidential. Gold holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry which he combined with his interest in music, moving to Rio de Janeiro to teach at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica, woodshedding at night and making friends with the likes of composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Hermeto Pascoal. At the confluence of these circumstances lies a music that is at once tunefully melodic and harmonically complex.
Gold's music has many moving parts realized in such a way to give an overall impressionistic opacity where the instruments fade in and out of one another. His piano style is expansive and orchestral, providing a deep harmonic base to the remainder of his band. The prominent voices here are Gold's, Jorge Continentino's soprano saxophone (particularly on "Rapadura") and Andrew Sterman's flute. Bassist Harvie S, a Zoho mainstay, firmly grounds Gold's complex compositions and solos deftly on "Teresinha," which also sports Continentino's soprano saxophone.
Gold boasts a special interest in writing for the audience. He largely achieves this, composing complex music that is readily accessible and enjoyable. His embrace of Brazilian culture is potently evident in his music, making him a worthy addition to the ranks of Zoho Music.
Visit Jon Gold on the web.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: El Amanecer; Viejo Smoking; El Marne; La Payanca; Sin Palabras; Rencor; El Flete; Dandy; La Ultima Cita; Divina; La Trampera.
Personnel: Nestor Marconi: bandoneon (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11); Nicolas Ledesma: piano (1, 3-5, 7-10); Abel Rogantini: piano (2, 6, 11); Ramiro Gallo: violin (1, 3-5, 7-11); Gustavo Bergalli: trumpet (2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11); Daniel Piazzolla: drums (2, 3, 5, 6, 11); Pablo Aslan: bass.
Tracks: Alem do Azul; Funky Jabour; Teresinha; Carioca da Clara; Confissao; Singela; Vitamin B; Paraty; Parafuso a Menos; Janacek Suite No 4; Rapadura; ParaZen.
Personnel: Jon Gold: piano, keyboards; Harvie S: bass (1-4, 7-9, 11); Mauricio Zottarelli: drums (1-4, 7-9, 11); Jorge Continentino: woodwinds (1, 3, 4, 11); Scott "Scottinho" Anderson: guitars (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12); Ze Mauricio: percussion (1-5, 7-9, 11); Anat Cohen: woodwinds (2, 7, 9); Zach Brock: violin (1, 9); Andrew Sterman: flute (2, 7, 9); Bryan Murray: woodwinds (2, 7, 8); Luiz Ribeiro: guitar (5); Toninho Ferraguti: accordion (11); Tatiana Parra: vocals (5); Leah Siegel: vocals (8, 12); Katie Scheele: English horn (6, 10); Lauren Riley Rigby: cello (12).