It is not big band jazz but perhaps it is big orchestra jazz. Certainly it is a new orchestral approach to one of Piazzolla's landmark collaborations - that with baritone sax legend, the late Gerry Mulligan. That collaboration led to one of Piazzolla's best selling albums, Summit, released in 1974. Orchestral approaches to some of the music from that album are not unknown, but arranger Hans-Peter Preu has created a suite of tunes for bandoneón, baritone sax and orchestra which retain much of the feel of the original. Other orchestral arrangements have tried to confine Summit to fit into the space recognized as classical music. Preu has really arranged these for an orchestra which is willing to unbutton a bit and celebrate the jazz spirit of the music.
The Suite is spread over five videos - I have chosen to feature the performance of the title tune, Summit, but they are all interesting. Although not identified in the video, I believe the orchestra is the Mittelsächsische Philharmonie. That orchestra is led by Jan Michael Horstmann and the baritone sax soloist in the videos, Anja Bachmann, is a member of that orchestra. Ms. Bachmann and Preu have collaborated before on a similar saxophone/jazz orchestra work titled New York Jazz Suite so I suspect Ms. Bachmann is the driving force behind these arrangement. She is joined in the performance by other soloists Michael Dolak on bandoneón, Holger Miersch on piano, and Tino Scholz on bass. I might quibble with Horstmann's pace and emphasis in some parts of the suite but taken in total, this is quite a nice performance by all involved.
If you enjoy Summit, you might want to watch the other parts of the suite: Years of solitude, Deus Xango, Close your eyes and listen, and Twenty Years Later. As a bonus, the four soloist join to perform a very nice version of Escualo in the same concert, this time Ms. Bachmann is on clarinet. If you are impressed by the bandoneón and bass work, I suggest you watch this video of Cuarteto Rotterdam - you will see both Dolak and Scholz as part of one of the best and most authentic tango quartets in Europe. You can further enjoy the music of the Cuarteto Rotterdam through their two CD's, Yunta De Oro (2007) and Deleitante (2009), which are available on their website or through iTunes.
My thanks to Hans-Peter Preu. He has made an important contribution to the Piazzolla orchestral repertoire. I hope other orchestras take notice. If the video does not appear below, click here.
To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.