The World of Contemporary Tango
Tito Castro, Bandoneón
Nick Danielson, Violin
Maurizio Najt, Piano
Ken Filiano, Contrabass
Martin Moretto, Guitar
131 West 3rd Street at Sixth Ave.
Harmony of Shining Women Foundation
By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 1, 2003
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
The Harmony of Shining Women Foundation, launched in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1998, is a spiritually focused organization about inner expression, dreams, hopes, and fulfillment of potential. "People should be true to oneself and unique individually. We are supposed to live alight with our own dreams, hope, strong will, and zeal for their own future....Let us give full play to such individuality as a hero during our whole lives during our time on earth." (HSWF Philosophy).
Anna Saeki is said to have been inspired by this philosophy. She stood onstage tonight with familiar musicians from the New York Argentine Tango scene at a Village Jazz Club, and merged Jazz, Contemporary and Traditional Tango, American Ballads, and Italian song, and a Japanese song, into a lovely and surreal evening, with warm lighting and a mesmerized audience, composed partially of many fans from Japan, who fully related to her comments in her native Japanese. Tito Castro on bandoneón and Maurizio Najt on piano (Both of whom I have interviewed for Bailemos Tango's Tango Times), Nick Danielson on violin, Ken Filiano on Contrabass, and Martin Moretto on Guitar are all familiar faces and comfortable with Astor Piazzolla's music, which comprised much of this program. However, the fact that many of the songs were sung in Japanese, including English and American ballads, was a surprise juxtaposition of language and culture.
Danzarin, a familiar Tango piece, was led by Tito Castro and the musicians in the warm, red lights. The Tango aficionados and Jazz fans were equally enthralled. The next piece, Milonga de Mis Amores, was torture to listen to, without a dance opportunity. Nick Danielson rhythmically and dynamically led violin passages in a relaxed, but edgy manner. Ame (Rain) was Anna Saeki's first entrance piece, sung in ethereal Japanese with Tito's bandoneon. This was a remarkable sound, with Ms. Saeki in a burgundy feathered boa and long burgundy, sparkling dress. Her skin was porcelain, and she glowed with enthusiasm and excitement. Beautiful Dreamer, sung in Japanese, was performed in an evocatively warm ambiance. Greensleeves, also in Japanese, was accompanied in the pink lights by Nick's strong, soulful violin. Dio, Come Ti Amo, an Italian ballad, was sung with sensuality, presence, and the natural sensitivity of the Asian demeanor. The very professional and talented Maurizio Najt and Ms. Saeki joined piano and vocals for Alfonsina Y El Mar, an Argentinean ballad, and Piazzolla's Balada Para Un Loco was performed in an earthy cabaret style with drama and theatricality, a bit like Piaf.
Tito led Piazzolla's Los Pajaros Perdidos, a lovely Tango, with his powerful and resonating bandoneón, with melodic and soothing passages, and Martin Moretto's guitar with Ken Filiano's bass filled the stage with just the right touch of Argentinean feeling. Tito's solos on bandoneón brought Blue Note to Buenos Aires. Piazzolla's Las Ciudades was dedicated to September 11 memories. Nick took his violin to dramatically new lengths (subsequently rushing upstairs to repair a violin string), and the faces of the musicians exploded with the passion of this music. The logistical lapse allowed Ms. Saeki to address the audience in Japanese and to announce an upcoming concert in Paris. She was warm and vibrant, and her new fans were thrilled at hearing Japanese from the stage of Blue Note.
Nick's newly repaired violin string was essential to his strong presence in Piazzolla's Vuelvo Al Sur, with its dissonant chords and melodic refrains. For Piazzolla's Preludio Para El Año 3001, Ms. Saeki addressed the audience again in Japanese, prior to passionately singing this powerful and contemporary piece. The dark and heightened tension built in momentum. Encores were When You Wish Upon a Star and Amazing Grace, in Japanese. In the first encore, Ken's bass solo was exquisite, and, in the second, Tito played a bandoneón passage that filled the club with radiating resonance.
Blue Note is a fantastic Club, worth a frequent visit for the best in atmosphere and Jazz. Anna Saeki is a rare performer with sensational charisma and class. Watch for her NY and international appearances.
Anna Saeki Onstage with Musicians
Musicians Backstage: Martin Moretto, Nick Danielson, Maurizio Najt, Tito Castro, Ken Filiano
Chris Vasquez, Guest, and Tito Castro
Anna Saeki Backstage
Anna Saeki Backstage