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November 1999

Astor Piazzolla
La Camora
Nonesuch Records

Piazzolla Report: The late, great Astor Piazzolla, whose impassioned and sophisticated nuevo tango innovations, not to mention his monstrous skill as a bandoneonist, were beginning to attain the legendary quality he deserved towards the end of his life, would have been surprised by the outpouring of attention since his death in 1992. The Piazzolla bin runneth over with new releases and reissues, often due to the advocacy of those fallen under the Piazzolla spell. Kip Hanrahan, via his small indie label, American Clave, had been one of Piazzolla's biggest fans, and his projects are seeing the light of day in an era of new respect.

Piazzolla's powerful La Camora (Nonesuch 79516; 48:04) was recorded in 1988 with his flexible, smartly arranged New Tango Quintet in, aptly enough, Astoria, NYC. A "camora" is a quarrel, and there's a brewing tension in this suite of music, especially in the three pieces bearing the main title, but it's a refined, ritualized sense of tension, as in a fighting, sporting or a rigorous debate. It opens poignantly, with the sad luster of "Soledad" and ends on the cooler, evocative tone poetry of "Sur: Los Suenos" (South: The Dreams) and "Sur: Regresso Al Amor" (South: Regression to Love), whose titles capture the emotional wistfulness, and measured bravura, of their writing and playing.

Originally published in November 1999
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