Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Piazzolla Videos from Montreux Jazz Festival

I believe these two videos are appearing on YouTube for the first time and have rarely been seen. They are two performances featuring Gary Burton and the Piazzolla Quintet at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1986. The performances are of La muerte del ángel and Nuevo tango.

An audio recording of the full concert is available on a CD titled The New Tango.

To many Piazzolla fans, this is a legendary performance. I suggest you watch these two videos quickly. While these two videos may survive YouTube copyright surveillance some of the many other videos posted by the person who posted these many not and YouTube policy can shut down the entire account, taking these classic videos down with the others.

So, with that alert, click here for La muerte del ángel and here for Nuevo tango.

Note added on December 5, 2009: One more video from this Montreux performance has been posted. It is the final portion of the composition Laura's Dream.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Violentango - Innovative String Quintet

Violentango originally appeared on the famed Libertango recording. It is one of a series of commercial pieces composed at the urging of Piazzolla's Italian agent, Aldo Pagani, to attract radio play. But it apparently had special appeal to Piazzolla. He recorded it for a second time with his Electronic Octet on the difficult to find LP, Olympia 77, but more significantly, he chose it to close the Carnegie Hall concert that the Electronic Octet performed in 1976. The Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, reports that the concert was attended by jazz greats Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond, Chick Corea and Herbie Mann and that Violentango brought the audience to their feet. Perhaps, then, it is no accident that most performances of Violentango on YouTube this year have been by jazz groups. Today's video, by the Innovative String Quintet (ISQ) from Palermo,Italy, is one of the relatively few classical approaches to Violentango this year.

And, the performance by the ISQ is superb. Production values are high as might be expected from a video made in a recording studio but more important is the crispness and precision of the performance and the very uniform interpretation of the piece which retains the essence of Piazzolla's tango but also contains the hallmarks of a classical string quintet. Members of the group are Luciano Saladino and Michele Campo - violins, Francesca Anfuso - viola, Andreea Timiras - cello, and Giuseppe D'Amico - contrabass. While not suggesting anything is lacking in the other performers, I would single out D'Amico's performance on bass as exceptional. He is the musician responsible for much of the tango sensitivity in this piece.

You will find a few more audio samples of Piazzolla as performed by the ISQ on their MySpace page but I hope they have additional Piazzolla performance videos which they will share in the future. If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ave Maria - Tanti Anni Prima - Peter Soave

The Marco Bellocchio movie Enrico IV which is based on the Luigi Pirandello's play of the same title, contains two of Piazzolla's most beautiful and haunting songs. The movie closes with Oblivion which is Piazzolla's second or third most performed song; but, it also contains a less often performed, but no less beautiful song, Ave Maria. The featured video today is Ave Maria as performed by Peter Soave on solo accordion. There may be no better performance. Soave feels this music and so will you if you pause, get your fingers off the keyboard and close your eyes for the 5'42" it takes this video to play.

Ave Maria was originally known as Tanti Anni Prima and is the theme associated with the Claudia Cardinale role in the movie. If you want to hear it in the context of the movie, you will find it at 4'40" into this video. I suspect the name was changed for commercial reasons by Aldo Pagani, Piazzolla's Italian agent. I must agree the new name fits - Soave's performance does bring to mind a church organ during a meditative moment.

Peter Soave's website describes him as an "accordion and bandoneon virtuoso." This is not hype or exaggeration - it is just a fact. His musical studies began at age five and as a teenager, he won almost every accordion competition in Europe. Perhaps the description of him as "the leading soloist of his generation" might start to touch on hyperbole but he is clearly one of a small number of "go-to" soloists contacted when an orchestra anywhere in the world needs a solo accordionist or bandoneonist. There are quite a few YouTube videos featuring Soave and downloadable tracks from his CD Undertango 2 are available from iTunes and from

Now, it is time to listen. If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


On October 13 and 14 of this year, the center of the Piazzolla world was displaced 7,882 miles from the delta of the Rio de la Plata to the banks of the Dnieper in Kiev, Ukraine. For the Piazzolla classical world, the center may never return - the folks in Kiev are serious about Piazzolla as evidenced by this years Astorfest.

I do not know who the driving force behind Astorfest is (the website hints that it is Leonily Kruhlikovoyi) but he/she is to be commended. This is the most impressive celebration of Piazzolla's music I have ever seen. Astorfest had high level attention: coverage on local television news, an MTV type remix video and an opening statement from Anatoly Zlenko, an important government official and former Ukraine representative to the UN.

By my reading of the posted Astorfest schedule, there were fifty individual performances of Piazzolla compositions with the finale being an orchestral version of Adios Nonino for string orchestra, accordion, percussion and choir. Many of the performances are available on YouTube through the Astorfest channel and there are more to come. I have watched all of them and the caliber of musicians and performance is uniformly excellent. With so many performances, it was difficult to pick a representative video so I took the easy way out and chose the finale, Adios Nonino.

The organizers have planned even more spectacular events for 2010 and 2011 suggesting that Astorfest has some hope of becoming an annual celebration. Their website is worth reviewing as you make your plans for 2010 and 2011. It is in Russian but Google Translate makes it easy reading.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Le Grand Tango - Piano Duet

Piazzolla clearly had cellist Mstislav Rostropovich in mind when he composed Le Grand Tango in 1981. He dedicated the piece to Rostropovich and sent him a copy. The story told in the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, is that Rostropovich had never heard of Piazzolla and never looked at the piece when it arrived. Others did play it. Carter Brey and Christopher O'Riley premiered the piece in the United States in 1987 or 1988 and their recording is still my favorite version. Rostropovich did eventually realize the importance of the piece and traveled to Buenos Aires in 1990 to review the piece with Piazzolla before he performed it in public. Rostropovich has recorded Le Grand Tango but to the best of my knowledge, it is only available in the boxed set of Rostropovich's full works.

While the piece was written for cello and piano, it has been played in many combinations. There have been 25 versions of Le Grand Tango posted on YouTube so far in 2009 - half of those are played by a cello/piano duo; the others are played on flute, violin, viola, contrabass and accordion - with piano as the other half of the duo. Today's video is the first to feature a piano/piano duo. Others have played in this combination and there is even a link which provides a two piano score for the piece (download at your own risk).

The pianists playing in today's video are Isolda Crespi Rubio and Ingrid Sotolarova performing in Portugal at a very recent recital. They are talented pianists but do not read the tango sensibilities in the piece nor do they successfully manage the dynamics in a way which reveals the conversation between the cello and the piano in the original. There are moments however, where they do bring things together in a way which suggests this could be a successful configuration for the piece. I would like very much to hear two pianists who have internalized Piazzolla's nuevo tango language play the piece - perhaps Pablo Zinger and Tim Ribchester?

It is one of Piazzolla's longer pieces and is divided into two videos. If they do not appear below, click here for part one and here for part two.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

Wikipedia describes the sound of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs as a blend of ska, jazz, folk, reggae, funk and big band. As difficult as that may be to imagine, that description is accurate except it leaves out rock and latin. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs is headquartered in Buenos Aires and has been around for nearly 25 years. They have picked up a number of Grammy nominations and one win (in 1998 - Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album). With few exceptions, they write and perform their own music. Among the exceptions is today's featured video of La muralla China.

La muralla China was composed in 1976 and according to Gorin's Astor Piazzolla - A Memoir, appeared originally on an album with that title recorded with Antonio Agri and an orchestra. Gorin's book suggests the song has lyrics composed by Geraldo Carneiro but I have never heard the lyrics. The piece was recycled along with others from that same album into the soundtrack of the movie Il pleut sur Santiago. La muralla China can be found on that soundtrack under the title, Combate en la fábrica.

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs version of La muralla China has not to my knowledge been released on a recording by them. They did write and record a song titled Piazzolla which appears on their Los Fabulosos Calaveras album. You can hear the song in this YouTube video. You may not hear any hints of Piazzolla in the instrumental but the links are clear in the lyrics which are available in the comments section of that same video. The last two lines of the song are (in rough translation): "I'm going to crash against your bandoneon at full speed, Astor ... Astor ... Astor .."

There are hints of that crash in this video. If it does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Graciela Oscura

This blog is normally reserved for performance videos rather than for recorded music accompanied by photos or video montages. However, today's video features an obscure Piazzolla composition which is so rarely performed that I will make an exception. The piece is Graciela oscura and it is performed in today's video by Miguel Saravia from a 1968 album titled Un rostro en la ciudad.

Graciela oscura was written as a theme song for Daniel Tinayre's 1964 movie, Extraña ternura, but the remainder of the music for the soundtrack was written by Lucio Milena. A poem by Ulises Petit de Murat, an Argentine poet and prolific screenwriter, provided the lyrics which can be found in the comments section of the YouTube video (click more info to see them). The original was performed by the Piazzolla quintet and sung by Egle Martin who was, at the time, romantically involved with Piazzolla. Ms. Martin was the intended star of the operita, Maria de Buenos Aires, but the relationship ended badly when Ms. Martin returned to her husband and Amelita Baltar was eventually granted the lead role (and became the romantic replacement for Ms. Martin).

Piazzolla and Ms. Martin did record Graciela Oscura on a rare 1967 LP titled Astor Piazzolla - Egle Martin which is now only available on the Japanese reissue Piazzolla Para Coleccionistas. Until that version makes it to YouTube, today's video may provide the only readily available opportunity to hear this piece.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

100 - Count'em - Guitars

Another one for Mr. Guinness: 100 guitars gather under the stars to play Libertango.

The venue is the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus at the base of the Acropolis in Athens. Built in the year 161 A.D. and "remodeled" in the 1950's with a new marble stage, the Odeon has been the site of countless memorable performances ranging from the Bolshoi Ballet, to Maria Callas, to Yani, to today's featured video of 100 guitars (and a violin and cello) assembled and led by Evangelos Boudounis. Boudounis is one of the best known classical guitarists in the world and is particularly noted for his duo performances with Maro Razi. But it is Boudounis' role as a teacher which brings together these 100 guitarists - all are current students or graduates of his school. This guitar orchestra with its constantly changing membership has been performing since 1993. Their repertoire is broad and there are several videos from this concert on Dimitrios Doulias's YouTube channel. I particularly enjoyed their performance of the Vals by Manos Hadjidakis.

But first, please enjoy their performance of Libertango. If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kazuma Miura

Kazuma Miura is one of the youngest and most exciting bandoneón players on the current scene. He is 19 years old and began playing bandoneón at the age of ten. He has studied under the Argentine master, Néstor Marconi and the Japanese master, Ryota Komatsu. He may well be on a trajectory to surpass both of these as his career develops. He has received extensive press coverage in Japan and has had the opportunity to appear in many concerts there. He has issued two CD's which, unfortunately, do not appear to available outside of Japan. In today's video, he is performing the third movement of Piazzolla's Concierto para bandoneon y orchesta with the Osaka Philharmonic.

There are two related videos. The first contains interviews with Miura, some biographical background and some footage from rehearsal with the Osaka Philharmonic. The second is almost identical to today's featured video except it puts the performance in context with an audience of young Japanese students and has a short interview at the end.

The performance is one of the best I have seen. The third movement, labeled Presto, is often performed as an isolated piece and it does stand alone well although the first two movements actually contain more opportunity for a bandoneón virtuoso to demonstrate their mastery of the instrument. The orchestra in this performance is absolutely flawless - extraordinarily well rehearsed and very disciplined. Inevitably, Miura's performance will be compared to that of Piazzolla which is available on a reissue CD, Astor Piazzolla: Concierto para Bandoneón / Tres Tangos and on a DVD, The Next Tango. In my view, Miura has the fleetness of finger to match Piazzolla but does not yet have the bellows control to express the full range of dynamics available from the instrument. For example, Piazzolla often uses the bellows to provide an accent at the end of an extended note. It is a subtle but important effect and in the videos I have watched, Miura does not take advantage of it. As an example, the descending half notes found at 4'30" in the video have a quite a different character in the Piazzolla original - primarily as a result of the accent at the note closure. Subtle differences such as this make the difference between playing the music and expressing yourself through the music. If Miura can bring such details to his playing, he will be able to bring more emotion to his already superb technical skills and. perhaps, surpass his teachers.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meditango - the Rest of the Story

In October, this blog reviewed an award winning performance of Meditango by the Belarus Group and complained that they were not meditative enough. You may want to revisit that blog post before viewing today's video which picks up where the Belarus Group stopped and provides the rest of the story - the meditative part of the story.

The video features the Argentine composer, arranger and bandoneónist Carlos Buono, and three unidentified musicians in the Melopea studio. Buono is no stranger to the recording studio - his website lists more than twenty albums he has recorded. He is often the bandoneónist-not-seen and deserves much broader exposure. He has a very high level of technical skill and, as this video demonstrates, a capability to find depth in the music of Piazzolla. The other musicians are not identified but are clearly familiar with the music and very competent. The arrangement puts the bandoneón in front and allows the elegiac nature of Meditango to glow. The same group of musicians can also be heard and seen in a recent video of Libertango.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Monday, November 16, 2009

As Ilhas - Ney Matogrosso

In August, this blog featured a video of Mil novecientos sesenta y cuatro and told the story of the very rare Ney Matogrosso single inserted in an 1975 LP. I encourage you to reread that blog entry but the short story is that the record was outlawed by governmental action and it was available for sale for only a very short time. Today's video features the other side of that single - the song As ilhas (The islands) performed by Ney Matogrosso himself.

The lyrics to As ilhas were written by the Brazilian poet, Geraldo Carneiro. Carneiro's website indicates that in 1974 he spent "four months in Rome, working on a musical with Astor Piazzolla." The Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, reports that the musical was to be about Eva Peron. The musical never came about but Carneiro and Piazzolla wrote about 15 songs together. Three of them, including As ilhas, were sung by José Angel Trelles on Piazzolla's 1975 recording Balada para un loco. In spite of this Trelles performance, the song is "owned" by Ney Matogrosso.

Ney Matogrosso, whose birth name is Ney de Sousa Pereira, got his start in 1971 with the Brazilian glam-rock band Secos & Molhados. Ney was famous for his outrageous costumes and make-up and his unusual counter-tenor voice. For an example, view this video of one of his early hits, Homem Com H. In 1986, Ney abandoned the costumes and make-up and adopted the low key appearance we see in today's video which captures a performance from just a few days ago. That Ney still performs As ilhas more than thirty years after its introduction is a testament to the value he places on this rarely heard Piazzolla composition.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mozart , Piazzolla and Sungha Jung

At age nine, Mozart had composed five symphonies and a dozen sonatas and was a touring professional musician. At age nine, Piazzolla had started to learn to play the bandoneon. By age eleven, Piazzolla was playing his bandoneon on the stage of Roerich Hall in New York City, had composed his first tango and was known as the "wonder boy of the bandoneon" according to the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango. At age nine, Sungha Jung, the featured musician in today's video is playing a refined finger-style version of Libertango on the guitar and doing it so well he would qualify for the title "wonder boy of the guitar" in my book. Sungha Jung also has a dozen or so original compositions to his credit and at age twelve Sungha Jung made an appearance on the stage at the Seoul Jazz Festival - you can see it here (at about 1'20" into the video - this is worth watching - please give it a view). He is clearly still growing - literally and as a musician. At just about Sungha Jung's current age, Piazzolla really became serious about music under the tutelage of Bela Wilda, the Hungarian pianist who first introduced Piazzolla to classical music. It changed his life.

So while neither Piazzolla nor Sungha Jung are the next Mozart - after 250 years, we must continue to wait for the next Mozart - they both fall into the category of musical prodigies. As I have patiently viewed nearly 5,000 Piazzolla videos this year, I have seen many child performers. Many of them are remarkably gifted and I suspect will grow up to be successful musicians but no other child has demonstrated the skills and musical sensitivity you see in today's video. The parallels to Piazzolla are interesting and Sungha Jung is at a critical point in his musical life. Will he become a serious student of music as Piazzolla did and bring the world a lasting contribution through his compositions or will he, as Piazzolla could have done, only exercise his skills as a performer? Either way, I suspect we will see more of this remarkable young man in the future but I do hope there is another Bela Wilda somewhere in Korea meeting with Sungha Jung even as you read this.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lanciano Festival Winners

The October 27 edition of this blog featured a video from the International Libertango Competition in Lanciano, Italy. Winners of that competition are now listed on the Competition's website. First place in the solo competition was shared between two entrants: Fumito Nunoya, a marimba player from Japan and Ekaterina Rumyantseva, a vocalist from St.-Petersburg, Russia. Videos from both of these performers at the festival are featured today.

The first video is of Nunoya performing a jazz version of Libertango accompanied by Evgeny Gutchin on piano. It is a creative and well executed perfomance - deserving of a first prize. If the video does not appear below, click here.

The second video features Ms. Rumyantseva singing Balada para mi muerte accompanied by the group Club Tango. Ms. Rumyantseva does not have the drama or vocal skills of Saule Iskakova, another St.-Petersburg vocalist who frequently sings the music of Piazzolla, but she does have a smokey voice that brings to mind Amelita Baltar, who sang the original. The judges have made another good choice. Club Tango also shared first place in the ensemble competition at Lanciano. If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jorge Adiós - Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi

I can't explain the bare feet. Nor the waving of the leg which reminds me of nothing more than a dog approaching a fire hydrant. No one wrings more emotion from the music of Astor Piazzolla than Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi and if these idiosyncrasies are the secret of his success, then I encourage more musicians to give it a try. Mario appears frequently on YouTube - at least sixteen times this year - and almost all appearances are Piazzolla performances. Sometimes on bandoneón - sometimes on accordion. His technical capabilities on both instruments are very high. It's not Piazzolla, but I encourage you to take a look this early accordion performance to view his skills sans histrionics.

Pietrodarchi does not pretend to be a porteño. He mines Piazzolla's music for emotion not tango. Thus he tends to favor pieces such as Oblivion and Milonga del angel which have a natural lyric beauty. Mining that same vein, he has turned to Jorge adiós for today's video. This is not a well known piece. In fact, this is the first time it has appeared on YouTube and, to my knowledge, it has never been recorded by anybody other than Piazzolla. It is music from a 1976 movie, Il pleut sur Santiago (Rain Over Santiago). The movie makes a powerful statement about a difficult period in Argentine history and contains some of Piazzolla's most haunting melodies. The sound track is available in the reissue CD, Il Pleut Sur Santiago.

In the original version, Jorge adiós is a piano-accompanied duet between Piazzolla's bandoneón and Antonio Agri's violin with drums and a bass in the back. In the version today, the violin parts are moved to Enzo De Rosa's piano or taken as solo's on Pietrodarchi's bandoneón. It works, but the piece loses much of the beauty which was created by the intricate interaction of violin and bandoneón in the original. I am thankful that Pietrodarchi and De Rosa have reintroduced this composition to the world and hope that it will inspire someone to recover the original arrangement or to make a new bandoneón, violin and piano arrangement which would make this piece soar.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fernando Suarez Paz

If there were a Piazzolla disciple from the classical world, it would probably be Fernando Suarez Paz. In the same sense, a disciple from the jazz world would probably be Pablo Ziegler. Both of these men were members of Piazzolla's last, and some say best, quintet. We have visited Ziegler's music previously in this blog. Today's video of Invierno Porteño from a 2008 performance by Fernando Suarez Paz and his quartet provide an opportunity to focus briefly on the career of Suarez Paz.

Fernando Suarez Paz was born in Buenos Aires in 1941. In 1978, his career as a violinist with several tango ensembles and with the Buenos Aires Philharmonic was interrupted by an invitation from Piazzolla to join his quintet. He toured the world with that quintet until it was dissolved in 1988 and appears in 18 recordings made during that period. In Natalio Gorin's book, Astor Piazzolla - A Memoir, Piazzolla identifies Suarez Paz as the violinist he would choose for the ideal quintet. While some fans argue that Antonio Agri would have been a better choice, I agree with Piazzolla - the sweetness of tone, incredible sense of timing and gypsy fleetness in Suarez Paz's playing puts him at the top of my list.

Since Piazzolla's death, Suarez Paz has continued to devote himself largely to the music of Piazzolla. He has toured with many other artists, appeared in many Piazzolla hommage programs, and recorded many additional albums - a personal favorite is the 2001 recording he did with the Assad Brothers, Sérgio & Odair Assad Play Piazzolla. It is a real pleasure to see him pass on his understanding of Piazzolla's music to the next generation of musicians in the quartet in this video. It should be noted that there is another intergenerational transfer which involves genes as well as music: Fernando's son, Leonardo Suarez Paz is one of his generations leading violinists following his father's classical/jazz/tango pathway. In this case, like father - like son seems truly to apply.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

October Review of Piazzolla Videos

There were 534 videos of Piazzolla’s music posted on YouTube in the month of October, 2009. 396 (74%) of the videos were performance videos featuring live performances. The others were videos which used Piazzolla’s music as a sound track for photo or video montages. I have highlighted my journey through these many videos in this blog.

Thirty-nine percent of the performance videos were in the classical mode, 22% in Nuevo tango, 24% in pop and 15% in jazz.

Here are the most frequently performed pieces this month (Libertango was the most frequently played – 31% of the total; the others follow in order):

1. Libertango
2. Adios Nonino
3. Oblivion
4. Verano Porteño
5. Histoire du tango – Café 1930
6. Tango etudes
7. Invierno Porteño
8. Histoire du tango – Bordel 1900
9. Milonga del ángel
10. Balada para un loco

The top three on this list seem to be fairly stable month-to-month but the bottom seven change every month.

The performance videos came from 46 different countries. Italy and Argentina tied for posting the most videos: 63. The top ten posting countries are listed in order here:

1. Italy
2. Argentina
3. USA
4. Germany
5. Spain
6. Russia
7. Brazil
8. Japan
9. France
10. Netherlands

There was only one original by Piazzolla posted – Soledad – and it has been previously posted.

Quality of performance varied from excellent to bizarre. My favorite of the month was Billie Jean done in the style of Piazzolla but since that is not an authentic Piazzolla composition, I will choose Lothar Hensel’s candombe inspired arrangement if Libertango as played by La Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa de la Universidad Veracruzana as best of the month. This choice is based on the creative use of percussion in the arrangement - it adds a color to the composition that I have not seen in other arrangements.

The choice for most bizarre this month is Dave Kim’s math project done to the tune of Libertango. Dave gets an A- on his project since he lost a few points by failing to create more math problems to fill the total available time in the video.

I have put a table with links to all 534 videos as well as some more information on the videos on the October link in my Piazzolla on Video website.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In the Family

Astor Piazzolla is not the only Piazzolla seen on YouTube in recent weeks. Today's video features Piazzolla's grandson, Daniel Astor Piazzolla - also known as Pipi. According to the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, Astor encouraged Daniel's interest in the drum by giving him $1,400 cash in a supermarket bag to buy his first drum kit. From that start and a tour through alternative rock, he has arrived as the drummer for the the saxophone driven jazz combo, Escalandrum. The video contains some interesting interviews with Daniel and some Piazzolla family photos which I don't believe have been shared with the public previously. The video is extremely well done. It also contains enough music to make me very anxious to hear the final product of the homenaje a Piazzolla the group is developing. The samples in the video suggest they are true to their own sound and also true to Astor Piazzolla's original intent. I think Escalandrum has a big winner here. Let's hope a new CD is on the way.

Young Daniel was not the only "other" Piazzolla on YouTube in October, his father, Daniel Hugo Piazzolla can also be seen in this video. That is Oblivion in the soundtrack of the video. Daniel, Piazzolla's only son and the father of Daniel the drummer, was a pioneer in bringing the synthesizer to Latin music in general and to his father's Electronic Octet in particular. You can see him midway up the right side of the Octet's pyramid in this early video of Soledad. After his father's death, Daniel reassembled the octet and recorded the album, Piazzolla by Piazzolla. The album contained some of Daniel's own compositions as well as those of his father. You can see a Carlos Rossi performance of one his compositions, Porteñesa Rea, here.

And finally, there is this interview with Piazzolla's widow, Laura Escalada Piazzolla. Mrs. Piazzolla remains active in the support of the Piazzolla legacy as the President of the Fundacion Astor Piazzolla. If you are a Facebook member, I encourage you to show your support by becoming a member of the Fundacion Astor Piazzolla group.

If the Escalandrum video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Libertango on a Bus

A few strangers on the back of the bus seem to be avoiding the music, but most on this journey somewhere in the mountains of Serra Gaúcha seem to be enjoying it. In contrast to the studied and thoroughly rehearsed music we frequently enjoy in this blog there is a spontaneity and purity to this quartet's music which is refreshing. The few words associated with the video suggest they are on their way to a wine festival in Caxias do Sul in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. If there is a natural center for Piazzolla in Brazil, it is probably here. Largely settled by Italians, the state is bordered by Argentina on the west and Uruguay on the south. It is the center of the wine industry in Brazil.

The young musicians here know what they are doing as they play a jazz tinged version of Libertango. This is something they have played before and my guess is that this is just one more quick rehearsal for a performance at the wine festival. If so, I hope they found an appreciative audience - they deserve it.

My thanks to the unnamed videographer who captured this moment for us to enjoy.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.