Saturday, February 4, 2012

Zita - Octeto Electronico

"I failed totally." According to the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, that was Piazzolla's own assessment of his electronified octets of the late 1970's. I am not so sure. You may judge for yourself from today's featured video. This newly available video of the final form of his Octeto Electronico playing Zita from the Troileana Suite shows a disciplined ensemble playing a well arranged and structured work which is consistent with the music we expect from Piazzolla. I prefer the music of the quintet but, to me, the Octeto Electronico seen here is an important and valid part of the evolution of Piazzolla's music.

The Octeto Electronico had two incarnations. In the initial form, created in 1975, Piazzolla utilized two members of his previous Quintet, Antonio Agri on violin and Horacio Malvicino on guitar. He added his son, Daniel, on the electronic synthesizer and four new musicians from the jazz community in Buenos Aires. The music from this octet is best heard on the recording, Piazzolla and el Conjunto Electronico. His objective was to add a modern touch to his nuevo tango. You can see that early Octeto Electronico playing the same piece, Zita, in this video. The music from this first octet is less aggressive than that of the second. If you watch the video of that first octet, you will note the "old generation" - Malvicino, Piazzolla and Agri, a truncated quintet - are in the front of the ensemble backed by the younger generation. It was a relatively small step from the quintet work. Another step away from the Quintet sound occurred in 1976 when Agri left that first octet to return to classical music and was replaced by flutist Arturo Schneider. That octet made a famous appearance in New York City's Carnegie Hall with a concert attended by many of New York's jazz greats - Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond, Chick Corea and Herbie Mann among others. The first octet's final performances were in October of 1976 in Brazil with Luis Ferreyra replacing Schneider on flute.

When an opportunity to tour Europe with the octet appeared, the only members of the first octet available were Piazzolla, son Daniel and flutist Ferreyra. Five new members were recruited from the jazz and rock scene in Buenos Aires and the group did twenty-two concerts at the Olympia theater in Paris. That concert was captured on the French LP, Olympia '77. The sound of this group represents a clear step away from the sound of the Quintet. The group then toured France, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium before disbanding - ending the Octeto Electronico experiment. The video of the group playing Zita comes from a televised performance of the group in Switzerland. To my knowledge, this is the only video which captures a performance of the group.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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  1. Hello,
    this video was recorded for the french television at Theatre de l'Empire in Paris on March 1977

    O Calo

  2. O Calo,

    Thank you for correcting my information on the source of the video.