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Tango Meets Jazz - Pablo Ziegler Quartet
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Tango Meets Jazz - Pablo Ziegler Quartet

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

Pablo Ziegler Quartet
(See CD Review of Bajo Cero)

Pablo Ziegler, Piano
Hector del Curto, Bandoneón
Pablo Aslan, Bass
Claudio Ragazzi, Guitar
Dave Samuels, Vibes
Randy Brecker, Trumpet

Jazz Standard
116 East 27th Street, NYC

Produced by Stratta/Philips Productions
Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 4 and 7, 2003

December 4, 2003
Special Guest: Dave Samuels, Vibes.

Pablo Ziegler is not only a great pianist, who performed with the renowned Astor Piazzolla, the Argentinean Tango Bandoneonist, Composer, and Orchestral and Band Leader, but he is also a brilliant composer, a dynamic stage presence, and a wonderful human being, whom I had the honor of interviewing. One evening of listening to Ziegler's music is one full evening's worth of incredible music -- edgy, poignant, eclectic, and often danceable, which, for this inveterate Tanguera, was a challenge, as I imagined dancing to Ziegler's Asfalto or Bajo Cero CD's with my Tango coach, Carlos De Chey.

Tonight, Ziegler's dynamic Quartet began the second set with Desde Otros Tiempos by Ziegler and La Muerte del Angel by Piazzolla. I sat just in front of Hector del Curto, a seasoned and renowned bandoneonist, and was able to breathe in the energy and electricity of this passionate music. Claudio Ragazzi's guitar added just the right edgy scintillation. Milonga en el viento, by Ziegler, was mournful and heart-rending, with just a hint of guitar and piano, in an alternation of theme and tonality, as Pablo Aslan's bow and del Curto's bandoneón led this piece in such a somatic style.

La Cumparsita, a traditional Argentinean Tango, took on a new dimension with Ziegler's interpretation and interesting innuendos. Ziegler was Picasso, re-constructing the familiar and re-grouping it into a unique and ingenious form. Tonight I happened to focus on Aslan's timely choices to use his bow, and the thematic potentials were realized. Michelangelo 70, by Piazzolla, was performed with the addition of Dave Samuels' vibes, and the extra melody-enhancements provided even more imagined danceability. Fugata seemed to be the essence of flight, a quintessential Tango, ending in a split key. Samuels' vibes were a fascinating and romantic addition to the Ziegler Quartet. In fact, at one point in this set, they took on an Asian ambiance, with tiny, off-key elements.

Libertango, by Piazzolla, included a Jazz infusion, to actually illustrate the Stratta-Philips concept of Tango Meets Jazz. With the vibes and guitar performing an occasional duet, the off-key themes resonated with progressiveness and potency. Piazzolla's Fuga y Misterio, from Bajo Cero, was passionate and provocative. As an encore, Ziegler chose another piece from Bajo Cero, La Rayuela, in a decidedly jazzy jam.

December 7, 2003
Special Guest: Randy Brecker, Trumpet and Flugelhorn.

My guests tonight were Carlos De Chey, my Tango coach (212.726.1304), and Loreen Leong, a Tanguera. We sat right behind Pablo Ziegler, watching his nimble fingers move at lightning speed across the keyboard. Ziegler opened with music by Piazzolla, and he created extra percussive dimensions by tapping the pedals and occasionally the side of his piano, just as Pablo Aslan tapped the side of his bass for additional percussive and rhythmic effects. Milonga en el viento, by Ziegler, inspired the composer to move his entire body with his performance, rising off the bench and becoming one with his music.

The next piece, in edgy, energetic tonalities, began with Aslan's bass. Ziegler presented his arrangement of La Cumparsita, and Hector del Curto's rich and earthy bandoneón extended its full length for endless chords. Tonight, I heard extra jazzy passages, to add to the guitar effects, through repetitive rhythms on del Curto's bandoneón. Aslan generated extraordinarily passionate music, tonight, for this final set of the series. El Choclo was performed with the addition of Randy Brecker's trumpet. Brecker fused his Jazz experience and style with these contemporary, Tango/Jazz musicians. He did not attempt to copy the Tango motif, but, rather, to enhance it.

There were moments tonight, in which Ziegler and del Curto would change key, mid musical passage, creating a most interesting and esoteric approach to the Tango Meets Jazz concept. Ziegler is a strong leader, usually meeting eyes with his musicians, or holding up a hand, or occasionally both hands, for added dynamics. In Libertango, by Piazzolla, the Brecker's trumpet added an entirely different felling than did Samuels' vibes. Brecker seemed to jam, rather unconnected, instead of merging with Tango, but, according to Pat Philips' onstage comments, these musicians had purposefully, briefly rehearsed and were exploring the Tango/Jazz commonalities and possibilities. The experiment was well worth the challenge.

I found Brecker's flugelhorn to be much more melodic and fused to the Quartet than was the trumpet. The combined sound was more pleasant. One of the lesser known Ziegler tunes opened with Claudio Ragazzi's effervescent guitar and Brecker's muted trumpet. In this piece, the muted trumpet was perfect, and the slow, sadder sensations enveloped the Jazz Standard. Fuga y Misterio, by Piazzolla, is a favorite Tango piece, and the encore, tonight, was La Rayuela (Hopscotch), replete with jazzy improvisation.

I look forward to the Pablo Ziegler Quartet's next Tango Meets Jazz series, as well as to any other appearances I may be able to attend. Ziegler is exciting to watch and exciting to hear. He makes Tango sound like Jazz and Jazz sound like Tango. Kudos, once again, to Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta for their daring Jazz Standard series of Tango Meets Jazz.

(See CD Review of Bajo Cero).

Hector del Curto and Randy Brecker
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Pat Philips, Hector del Curto, Pablo Aslan, Pablo Ziegler, Randy Brecker
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Pablo Ziegler, Claudio Ragazzi, Pablo Aslan, Hector del Curto, Randy Brecker
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Carlos De Chey, Pablo Ziegler, Loreen Leong
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Pablo Ziegler and Elena, a Tanguera
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Roberta and Pablo Ziegler
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at