23 February 2004
NY Jazz Report's Thad Kawecki and Will Wolf experienced Pablo Aslan's Avantango as they presented their "Tango For Valentine's Day" at Town Hall on Saturday evening 14.February. Their new CD on Zoho Music is entitled "PABLO ASLAN AVANTANGO."
Pablo Aslan Bass
Gustavo Casenave Piano
Hector Del Curto Bandoneon
Oscar Feldman Tenor & Alto Saxophones
Roxana Fontan Vocals
Leonardo Suarez-Paz Violin
Diego Urcola Trumpet
Vuelvo Al Sur
East St. Louis Toodle-oo
Rockin' In Rhythm
Milonga en el Viento
La Calle 92
Kawecki: This performance clearly demonstrated that the tango is indeed a weapon of mass seduction. From center stage, and before a sold out Town Hall audience, Pablo Aslan led his band through his exciting vision of Nuevo Tango ---a marriage of soulful musical intelligence and smoldering emotions. The effect was irresistable.
Wolf: An alluring and expressive blend of several varied musical styles--- including tango, jazz, new music---that come together in a refreshing, vibrant way. Any jazz enthusiast, who ordinarily might not be attracted to the music of the tango, will love this novel interpretation.
Kawecki: Adding improvised solos to the tango form really gives it another dimension.
Wolf: A dimension empowered by well-written compositions, clever arrangements and inspired performers.
Kawecki: Aslan has definitely blazed a little farther down the trail started by Piazzolla, and has found his own approach along the way. Most obvious, of course, is this jazz-tango meld. But he also has a distinct style. And his own voice could be heard in both his arrangements of the Piazzolla pieces and his original compositions. Of note are his sense of time, and use of inventive metric groupings. A good example of this is "DERVICHE".
Wolf: A beautifully constructed composition by Aslan, full of interesting sonorities, and as performed on this Valentine evening, a prime example of the passion this ensemble brings to all its work.
Kawecki: And a good showcase for most of its members, with solos taken by tenor, bass, violin and bandoneon.
Wolf: And with its pulsating energy, a fitting and prescient beginning to both the evening's festivities and their new CD---a sublime introduction to Avantango.
Kawecki: You're right. From this first tune on it was clear the evening would be an event. And Avantango wasted no time in pulling out all the stops. No sooner had the second number begun (Piazzolla's "ZUM"), than the dancers took to the stage, performing the first in a series of tangos, each one with original choreography and costume change.
Wolf: The performance of the two choreographed Ellington numbers ("EAST ST. LOUIS TOODLE-OO" and "ROCKIN' in RHYTHM") in this format provided a winning contrast (and a nice surprise) to the rest of the evening's program, and Aslan's arrangements allowed both Diego Urcola and Oscar Feldman a little room to stretch out with spicy solos. Another indication of how well Avantango's concept works. And Aslan announced that they would continue to assimilate additional material by classic jazz composers into their repertoire. Something to look forward to.
Kawecki: The group also showcased works from within its own ranks: "NEW TANGO" by saxophonist Oscar Feldman featuring a jazz bass solo and scored for alto and muted trumpet, and "EL 92" by pianist Gustavo Casenave---a New Music piece, angular and percussive. Both composers deserve attention.
Wolf: And what about Feldman's soulful saxophones, particularly his tenor? Distinctive---and such an intrinsic element in the overall sound of this configuration. Not just on the solos, but in most of the pieces as he interweaved with the other instruments, and the voicings they created were spot on---delicious.
Kawecki: The doubling of lines by tenor sax and bandoneon on "SABATEANDO" was especially tasty. Aslan knows how to write a strong clean line and orchestrate it to best effect.
Wolf: The Mingus-like orchestration in the intro to Piazzolla's"VUELVO AL SUR" is another striking example, and was a perfect foil for vocalist Roxana Fontan.
Kawecki: You didn't have to be fluent in Spanish to have gotten her message. Whether with full band, as in "VUELVO", or in a spare duet with Aslan ("MALENA"), Fontan proved that soul is soul and never needs an interpreter.
Wolf: I think the word in Spanish is "duende", and this entire outfit has it.
Kawecki: Well, if applause is any indication, the audience agreed.
A benchmark performance.
KAWECKI & WOLF INTERVIEW
email Thad Kawecki
email Will Wolf