Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Libertango - Live from the Greco

Libertango, Piazzolla's most often played composition, provides such an opportunity for interpretation and improvisation that it is a favorite of jazz musicians. A recent blog featured the cool sounds of a bossa nova version from the European Jazz Trio. Today's version falls more on the hot side of jazz and is from Japan, not Europe. The video comes live from the Greco Bar near Ōtsuka Station in Tokyo.

The group's name is M.Locura and it is led by violinist, Momoko Aida, who has a strong interest in nuevo tango which, fortunately for us, centers on the music of Piazzolla. In this performance the quartet starts with a fairly straight version of Libertango well grounded by the bass of Keisuke Torigoe who is steady as a rock throughout the piece. Then as the members of the quartet each take a solo break, the music gets interesting and the capabilities of the musicians become apparent. The first to solo is bandoneónist, Satoshi Kitamura, who plays in a classical tango style with excellent technique and perfect phrasing. He does not yet have the explosive command of the bellows of Ryota Komatsu but is perhaps the best of the young bandoneónist in Japan. The pianist, Nobumasa Tanaka, leaves all traces of traditional tango behind with his percussive and creative attack at the piano - perhaps the Henry Butler of tango piano. Then, Momoko Aida, brings her very creative violin to the front. Ms. Momoko is an accomplished tango violinist - she played in one of Komatsu's ensembles - but she brings a dark, tension filled solo to this Libertango allowing resolution only as the group approaches their wrap-up chorus. I am not sure I liked or understood it, but it held my attention and given the approximately 2,000 versions of Libertango that I have heard in the last fifteen months, that is saying something.

This is a very fine, nuevo tango jazz group that deserves more global exposure. I hope we will hear more from them in the future. The group has also posted an excellent performance of Michelangelo 70.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

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