Review: Pablo Aslan - Tango Grill
|Date of Release:||2010/03 (US), 2010/08 (UK)|
|Cat. No.:||ZOHM 201003|
|Country of Release:||US, UK|
|Genre/s:||1. World | Argentinean
2. Jazz | Contemporary
2. Tango Jazz
|Date of Review:||2011/03/20|
Tango Grill (US cover)
Released in 2010 on Zoho Music, Pablo Aslan's Tango Grill strays a little from his more usual brand of tango jazz to present an album that is sheer genius. The fact that although a finalist, it didn't win a Grammy only shows how meaningless such awards are.
The title derives from an old practice in the performance of tango going back to the early days of the form, known as tocar a la parrilla, or to play on the grill. This consists of the musicians playing without a written arrangement, where although always staying close to the melodies and harmonies of the song, the players add their own variations and embellishments. This form of improvisation is not dissimilar to that of early jazz, even if the aims may be different.
New York based bassist and tango jazz exponent - of which he is unquestionably one of the finest - Pablo Aslan selected a number of the finest if often lesser known classic traditional tangos and recorded Tango Grill with some of the finest local musicians, tango players as well as some with a jazz background, in Buenos Aires. They also include none other than the grandson of Tango Nuevo inventor Astor Piazzolla, Daniel, a very fine drummer, and bandoneonista Nestor Marconi, a veteran of one of if not the most venerable classic tango institutions, the Quinteto Real.
Aslan re-harmonised some of the melodies with great care and had his collaborators playing off only lead sheets and his instructions, forcing them to draw on their own resources and inspirations as well as experience. Solos are generally in tango style but occasionally veer into post-bop runs. The material on Tango Grill might have come straight from a milonga, but its treatment comes from a clear jazz angle. The instrumentation also is certainly unconventional in tango terms, omitting guitar but adding trumpet and traps on a number of tracks, and with Aslan's bass, both bowed and plucked, frequently playing melodies as well as soloing. The inclusion of the first, especially in Harmon-muted mode (on Sin Palabras), works out to be a stroke of sheer genius.
Essentially, Tango Grill takes a look at tango, Alice-like, through a jazz looking glass. The result is nothing short of pure brilliance and magic. The sound is at once classic and new, and ranges from sentimental to edgy and back. Both ensemble playing and soloing are a dream throughout. This is music with attitude. It is also a delight to hear a bass player leading not only from the back but so much from the front as here. A difficult proposition at the best of times, this must have been particularly problematic from a tango perspective.
To hear tango musicians improvise as they do on Tango Grill is a whole new, wonderful experience in itself. Aslan's concept with this album has worked out supremely well and is far from a clever cerebral exercise. Instead, it is inspired and inspirational, unforced and organic.
There can be no question as to the consistency of this album. Tango Grill is as brilliantly consistent as it is consistently brilliant, exerting a mesmerising enchantment on the listener that is far beyond compelling and is entirely irresistible, sending shivers down the spine and making hair stand on end. One could happily lose oneself in listening to this soulful album all day and all night long.
Pablo Aslan's Tango Grill is, superfluous as it might be to point out, beyond essential in any true tango lovers' as well as any contemporary jazz collection. It's an absolute must have.
1. El Amanecer (R. Firpo) - 4:49
Pablo Aslan - bass
Tango Grill can be purchased:
From CDBaby.com (also MP3)
From Amazon.com (also MP3)
From Amazon UK (also MP3)
From better CD stores
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