Donal Fox is a composer, a jazz pianist and a professor at MIT. His interest in the music of Piazzolla has been discussed earlier in this blog in connection with his Piazzolla to Bach project. Today's video features a brand new arrangement of Ausencias by Fox and his quartet. The performance is at Sculler's Jazz Club in Boston and the notes indicate that it is his first public performance of the work. I believe the performance was yesterday, May 2.
Ausencias was composed by Piazzolla in 1984 for the Fernando Solanas movie, L'Exil de Gardel. In 1985, the score for the movie was awarded a César - the national film award of France. It is a mellow work and contains a sublime duet between electric guitar and bandoneón. Piazzolla's performance of the work can be found on the CD, Tanguedia de Amor.
Three-fourths of the Donal Fox Quartet performance met my expectations. Bass player, Professor John Lockwood, lays down a rock solid clave and root progression. Fox's piano and Warren Wolf's vibraphone have a quiet conversation that captures much of the elegance of the bandoneón/guitar duet in the original (Wolf gets a pass for his one quickly stopped clam - it was, after all, the first performance). But the work of the fourth member of the quartet, Dafnis Prieto on drums, is horrible. Perhaps, Prieto, like a dog who hears frequencies above human hearing, hears complex poly-rhythms that are outside of most human's hearings or perhaps he is just hunting for the right groove and never finds it. But, the result is an apparently random laying on of various drums and cymbals that destroys the flow and integrity of the piece. Next time, give the man a brush and one drum or ask him to sit out the piece. I would be very interested to hear what Fox's other drummers, Terri Lyne Carrington or Yoron Israel, would do with the work. There is potential here, but until the drum work is fixed, the piece should go back to the practice studio.
Donal Fox fans should be aware that next week on May 10, there is an important New York premier of his work, Hear De Lambs A-Cryin, at Carnegie Hall. I believe there will be a live web broadcast.
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