Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Michelangelo 70 - Pablo Ziegler & Regina Carter

Once again Pablo Ziegler demonstrates his ability to attract jazz stars to the Piazzolla world. Just a few weeks ago we featured Pablo Ziegler in a performance with Branford Marsalis and now in today's video we feature Ziegler and his quartet with the superstar violinist, Regina Carter, playing Michelangelo 70. The performance was captured just last month, either December 4 or 5, at the Jazz Standard club in New York.

Regina Carter, like Piazzolla, is one of those musicians who is impossible to put in a single musical box. She is trained as a classical violinist and has soloed in that role with some of the best symphonies in the world. She has excelled as a jazz musician, something rare on the violin. She has composed - you will find her works on the eponymously titled CD, Regina Carter. She has explored World Music - Latin flavored in the Danilo Perez album, Motherland, and African flavored in her latest release, Reverse Thread. She is one of the few musicians to have received a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation. She is also one of the few violinist granted the opportunity to play Paganini's famous "Cannon" violin - not just once but twice. The second time was captured in the wonderful CD, Paganini: After a Dream. That recording contains a sublime version of Oblivion played on Paganini's Cannon.

Today's video is, to my knowledge, only Regina Carter's second encounter with Piazzolla (Oblivion with the Paganini violin being the first). The quintet starts with a standard Piazzolla quintet reading of Michelangelo 70 and I am starting to think she is out of her element here - she reads the music but it doesn't sing under her bow the way it does for Fernando Suarez Paz. Two minutes into the video, the group leaves the script and Claudio Regazzi provides the best solo I have ever heard from him, Ziegler follows with a perfect piano break and then Carter brings her violin to the front. Tentatively at first, but she soon finds a groove and captures me with her creativity and musicality. The group closes a little awkwardly - Carter is a millisecond behind - but it is a most enjoyable jazz performance leaving me wanting to see what Carter would do with something like Escualo.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

Note added 6 January, 2010: After the above was written a related video was posted featuring Regina Carter playing Libertango with Ziegler's quartet. You can view it here. I know my tastes for Libertango have become jaded from having viewed so many interpretations but I find Ms. Carter's break a bit pedestrian here. Michelangelo 70 is the better of the two performances. I also conclude that Mr. Ziegler is, by far, the best jazz musician on this stage. He continues to find new riffs in music he has played thousands of times and never losses the thread of the theme. Remarkable.

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