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Two to Tango: Bien Sur & Rollo Coaster

Marcia Hillman By

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Emilio Solla

Bien Sur

Fresh Sound-World Jazz


Chris Cheek/Victor Prieto

Rollo Coaster



The Argentinean tango has formed a strong connection with jazz not unlike the Brazilian samba and bossa nova. As developed by Astor Piazzolla and those who came after him, classical tango has been widened to include the Folklorico of Argentina.

Buenos Aires native/pianist Emilio Solla's Tango Jazz Conspirators are Chris Cheek (soprano, tenor and baritone saxes), Victor Prieto (accordion and Galician bagpipe), Jorge Roeder (double bass) and Richie Barshay (drums and percussion). All of the material was composed by Solla; the one exception is the classical tango "Malena," featuring a sensitive piano statement as well as wonderful arco work to supplement a heavier tango-typical bass presence. "Hartbeat" was written for and features drummer Billy Hart. Also notable is "Chakafrik," with Tim Armacost (soprano) and Cheek (baritone) in a bit of sax interplay embellished by Prieto's runs and fills.

Cheek and Prieto met in 2006 working with Solla and their new duo CD Rollo Coaster (a followup to a DVD from 2008) shows off how much music these two virtuosos can make. A collection of original music, this album, however, is more connected to the tango rhythm. Playing only soprano (an instrument which can sound painfully shrill at times), Cheek achieves a wonderfully mellow tone especially on the ballads "Shelter" and "Los Recuerdos." Prieto does double duty, his left hand supplying the percussive element and right taking care of the melody and often he captures a haunting bandoneon-like sound. The material is all lyrical and/or playful—as in "Six Note Samba," a piece based on only six notes. But the most significant element is the rich interplay, especially on Prieto's "Chatting With Chris."

Whether you call them "post-tango" or "world jazz," these are prime examples of the partnership between South American music and American jazz.

Tracks and Personnel

Bien Sur

Tracks: Remain Alert; Payos; Hartbeat; Malena; Chakafrik; Candombley; Tonos Lejanos.

Personnel: Chris Cheek: soprano, tenor, baritone sax; Victor Prieto: accordion, Galician bagpipe; Emilio Solla: piano; Jorge Roeder: double bass; Richie Barshay: drums, percussion; Billy Hart: drums track 3; Tim Armacost: soprano sax track 5; Lucia Pulido: vocal track 7; Arturo Prendez: trombone track 6; Manual Silva: trombone track 6; Ramon Echegaray: trombone track 6.

Rollo Coaster

Tracks: Bebe; Coo; Rolocoaster; Six Note Samba; Shelter; Chatting with Chris; Papa Pin; Rosa; Rio; Los Recuerdos; Improv I; Improv II; Improv III; Memories.

Personnel: Chris Cheek: soprano sax; Victor Prieto: accordion.


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