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Pablo Ziegler Quintet At Jazz Standard
116 East 27th Street, NYC
Produced by Stratta/Phillips Productions
Pat Phillips and Ettore Stratta
Susanna Meyer, Agent
Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 13, 2002
Featured musicians: Pablo Ziegler, Piano; Pablo Aslan, Bass; Claudio Ragazzi, Guitar; Hector del Curto, Bandoneón; Special Guest, Paquito D'Rivera, Clarinet and Saxophone.
Pablo Ziegler Quintet at Jazz Standard
Last summer, when I interviewed Pablo Ziegler with Robert Abrams (See Ziegler Interview), I told him how much I loved his Piazzolla interpretations and his original compositions, which take Piazzolla's haunting Argentine Tango music (Also See Gidon Kremer Review of Golijov's Last Round) to a contemporary level. At Jazz Standard, on Friday, December 13, I was not surprised that the Ziegler Quintet was in rare form, especially with the addition of Guest Artist, Jazz Great, Paquito D'Rivera, who intermittently accompanied and sometimes took the theme, on either soprano or alto saxophone or on clarinet. Pablo Ziegler was a pianist in the original Astor Piazzolla Group of Tango Musicians, and he can be heard on Piazzolla's original recordings. Some time ago, Ettore Stratta met Ziegler in Argentina and brought him to the United States, where Ziegler has performed in many cities and has recorded here with Tango and Jazz musicians. Last winter, I had the pleasure of hearing Ziegler in a Trio at Joe's Pub with percussion (Satoshi Takeishi) and bass (Pablo Aslan) (See Article, Hilliard Greene). Last year, the sound was very different, with a more contemporary Jazz feeling, and at the Jazz Standard, there was a feeling, for me, that I could actually dance Tango to each and every piece, including Ziegler's exciting and dynamic compositions (to which I dance regularly with my Tango Coach, Carlos De Chey, 212.726.1304).
On this evening, Ziegler's Quintet highlighted and brought together a fusion of Jazz and Tango, with the emphasis of Tango in the Piazzolla pieces, such as Adios Nonino, La Muerte del Angel, and Libertango, and the emphasis of Jazz in the Ziegler pieces, such as Asfalto, Milonga en el Viento, and Desde Otros Tiempos. Each piece contained unique elements of both Jazz and Tango, with affectionate embellishments within these Tango or Jazz interpretations. Each member of the Quintet had at least one solo, either in a Piazzolla piece or in a Ziegler piece, and these solos were phrased very differently, depending on the composer. For example, Paquito D'Rivera played a Piazzolla solo very soulfully and a Ziegler solo in a dynamic, stark, and angular style. Each musician put a different interpretation into his solo, even within the same composition.
For each individual piece, I could close my eyes and imagine myself dancing. Even better, I could imagine the professional Tango performers, such as Carlos De Chey and Loreen Leong, Diego Di Falco and Carolina Zokalski (See Interview and Photos), Pascale Coquigny and Luis Bruni (See Interview), Pablo Veron, and Milena Plebs and Ezequiel Farfaro (See Photos), performing in a large venue to this same Quintet, totally capable of dancing to the Jazz and Tango interpretations of the individual Ziegler and Piazzolla pieces. Jazz Standard was a small, compressed venue, which was extremely comfortable and with good acoustics, like the Argentine Consulate (See Binelli/Ferman Review). Yet, this daring Quintet could fill a Concert Hall with its dynamism and musical eclecticism.
At times, the group utilized opposing dynamics of tension, especially in the Ziegler pieces, with, for example, a slow guitar, playing against a rapid piano, or a slow bass against a wild clarinet or saxophone. The sharp, final notes, often heard in both Ziegler and Piazzolla pieces, left the audience breathless and wanting more. In seamless fashion, each instrument took the lead, as the Quintet followed, or, at times, the entire Quintet, as a whole, took the lead. At times, the Quintet would change key, instrument-by-instrument, creating a fascinating listening experience. The Ziegler Quintet created a hurricane of sound. At a Tango Milonga, the bandoneón would be the soul and voice of the Tango. Yet, del Curto's bandoneón did not overpower the piano or the other instruments, when it was their turn to play the role of Tango voice and soul. In Jazz embellishments, the piano, guitar, saxophone, or clarinet took the lead, with a dissonant, driving edge. Ragazzi and D'Rivera enhanced the music with the wild, staccato and soprano sounds of the acoustic guitar and saxophone.
Pablo Ziegler, a discreet Conductor, was extremely comfortable and creatively driven on his piano, always in control, with his eyes on the Quintet, where necessary, offering the lead to the various musicians, from time to time, and knowing how to follow, while the other musicians take the lead. In Adios Nonino, he played a very long entrance, with warmth and passion. Occasionally, Ziegler tapped the piano for percussive embellishments, and he moved seamlessly from Tango to Jazz, extremely at ease. Prior to the introduction of Paquito D'Rivera on clarinet, Ziegler led the group in a few of his own brilliant compositions. He chose a Piazzolla piece, La Muerte del Angel, to showcase the clarinet, and, subsequently, D'Rivera brought the audience to resounding howls, with the showcasing of his alto and soprano saxophones.
Pablo Aslan, a well-known Tango bass performer, played the wailing and soulful melodies of Piazzolla with his bow, in an extremely seasoned and passionate manner. Aslan has also played with all the major bandoneonists and Tango musicians, and he can be found at many Milongas, playing for dance, as he can also be found in Jazz groups, such as Ziegler's, playing for listening entertainment. Aslan produced a very rich and eloquent sound on his bass, which he also tapped, from time to time, for added percussion.
Claudio Ragazzi, on steel stringed, acoustical guitar, was beautifully inspired. He blended well with the group and also played exquisite, soaring solos. His warm sounds transcended the original Tangos and gave them an exotic, Continental flair. As a musician in the Ziegler pieces, he assisted and accentuated the contemporary style and technique inherent in Ziegler's compositions, with amazing speed and agility. Hector del Curto, in a rare New York appearance, is also a long-time member of Ziegler's group and has recorded with Ziegler, as have Aslan and Ragazzi. Del Curto's bandoneón was crisp, clear, and well blended to the group. His solos were pleasant and melodious. Del Curto is a seasoned interpreter of Ziegler and Piazzolla.
Kudos to Pat Phillips and Ettore Stratta for again (See Django Reinhardt Festival, Birdland) courageously organizing this Tango/Jazz Fusion Event at Jazz Standard. The audience BEGGED for more, and there was an encore as a reward. Phillips and Stratta have creative and aesthetic vision in the planning and producing of Jazz and Cultural Music events in New York. They are to be strongly applauded.
Paquito D'Rivera on Saxophone
Pablo Aslan on Bass
Claudio Ragazzi on Guitar
Pablo Aslan, Paquito D'Rivera, and Claudio Ragazzi