The Exploring series allows you to travel with me as I explore various sides of Latin Jazz that are still fairly new to me. I’ve studied and performed Cuban-based Latin Jazz quite a bit, and to a lesser degree, I’ve been involved with Brazilian influenced Latin Jazz. Today’s modern Latin Jazz world encompasses much more than the music of Cuba and Brazil though, and I feel a bit behind the times. I encourage you to join me as I broaden my horizons and learn more about a variety of Latin Jazz styles.
This week’s exploration focuses upon musicians that blend jazz with the music of Argentina. Most of these artists integrate Tango into their repertoire, while others utilize more folkloric forms. It’s easy for me to unfairly replace the idea of Argentine Jazz with Tango Jazz; the romanticized notion of tango dancing remains closely linked to America’s idea of Argentina. While Tango constitutes a large piece of the Argentine musical landscape, well-informed musicians see the larger picture. The possibilities for exciting Latin Jazz are abundant in Argentina.
The following list presents some current artists mixing jazz and Argentinean music, including links to their work online. Again, this should serve as a good starting point.
1. Pablo Ziegler
Raised in Buenos Aires, Pablo Ziegler built his musical skills straddling both classical and jazz studies, with a keen interest in Tango. After many years working as a performer and composer for television, he joined Astor Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango Quartet. He toured the world with Piazzolla, collaborating with artists such as Gary Burton. Piazzolla disbanded his group in 1989 due to health concerns and Ziegler formed his own quartet. He has composed and recorded jazz-influenced tango in a variety of settings, from trio to orchestra. His 2005 release Bajo Cero, a trio recording with Quique Sinesi on guitar and Walter Castro on bandoneon, won a Latin Grammy Award for best Tango album. The trio released a second album, Buenos Aires Report in 2007. Check out Ziegler’s Website and his MySpace Page.
2. Pablo Aslan
Argentine bassist Pablo Aslan moved to the United States in 1980 and he has made a huge impact on the cross pollination of jazz and tango. In addition to touring with Yo-Yo Ma’s Astor Piazzolla project and working with Pablo Ziegler, Aslan has co-founded the New York Buenos Aires Connection and the New York Tango Trio. His own band, Avantango, mixes traditional tango elements such as traditional vocals, bandoneon, and strings with jazz improvisation and winds. Aslan’s 2004 Zoho release Avantango captured the band covering both traditional and original songs. His 2007 Zoho album, Buenos Aires Tango Standards, took a different course though – he gathered a group of jazz musicians from Argentina and they placed Tango standards in a decidedly jazz combo context. The result was a less arranged and more jazz fueled version of tango. Check out Aslan’s Website and his MySpace Page.
3. Diego Urcola
Most people know trumpet player Diego Urcola from his work in Paquito D’Rivera’s quintet, but his work as a leader has placed him at the center of New York’s Tango Jazz scene. His 1999 album Libertango began a mixture of jazz and tango that both reflected the work of masters such as Piazzolla and presented Urcola’s own jazz flavored compositions. His 2004 album Soundances again brought together Urcola’s jazz experience with his love for tango, also integrating a variety of additional latin influences. The album was nominated for both a 2004 Latin Grammy Award and a 2005 Grammy Award. At the same time, he performed with Pablo Aslan and recorded on the album Avantango. Urcola’s exceptional 2006 album Viva brought together a top-notch band in a Latin Jazz setting, and earned him another Grammy nomination. Check out Urcola’s Website and his MySpace Page.
4. Pedro Giraudo
Bassist Pedro Giraudo moved from Argentina to the United States in 1996, and has made creative in-roads into Argentine Jazz. As a player, Giraudo has been employed by Latin Jazz artists William Cepeda and Chris Washburne as well as tango artists Pablo Ziegler, Frenando Otero, and Eternal Tango. As a composer, Giraudo developed a strong big band sound that incorporates the bold attack of jazz visionaries like Charles Mingus and the deep cultural roots of Argentinean folk music and tango. He first recorded his big band compositions on the 2002 album Mr. Vivo, and then followed-up with the 2006 release Desconsuelo. Both albums find a strong balance between bold harmonic colors and Argentinean rhythms while featuring the unique talents of the band’s individual musicians. Check out Giraudo’s MySpace Page and his CD Baby Page.
HELP ME EXPLORE FURTHER!
Do you know any more artists that combine Argentina’s music with jazz? What albums have they recorded? LEAVE A COMMENT and let me know what I’m missing – I’d love to explore more music!
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