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June 2007

Pablo Ziegler Quartet
Tango & All That Jazz
Kind of Blue

For a week in December of 2005 at New York City’s Jazz Standard, pianist Pablo Ziegler invited a different jazz artist to sit in with his quartet each night. Among these were Paquito D’Rivera, Harry Allen and, as recorded for this CD, vibraphonist Stefon Harris. Experience with a vibes player was not new to Ziegler, for he had performed with Gary Burton while the pianist of Astor Piazzolla’s celebrated New Tango Quintet, and also as a guest on Burton’s tribute CD, Astor Piazzolla Reunion. Harris, however, was new to tango that night, but he once again proved his unsurpassed versatility, performing with both confidence and appropriate gusto. Given his fresh approach to Ellington on African Tarantella, and his creativity with the Classical Jazz Quartet, his performance here is not surprising.

Harris appears on five of the 10 selections, with Ziegler, Hector Del Curto on bandoneon, Paul Myers on guitar and Pablo Aslan on bass. On Piazzolla’s classic “Michelangelo ’70,” Del Curto essays the staccato theme, building to an exciting climax at which point Harris solos—his emotional commitment and facility for this challenging music is immediately apparent in his driving and adventurous improvisation. On “Once Again … Milonga,” his beautiful slow milonga, Ziegler features a relentless, cascading solo by the pianist. Harris follows inspired, varying his approach with both extended lines and repetitive phrases, at home again with the music. His warm, reflective solo on the yearning “Muchacha de Boedo” garners one of the few rounds of applause before the end of a piece.

Del Curto and Myers stand out on “La Rayuela,” Del Curto alternately sweet and dissonant, Myers’ solo full of glistening chords and bent notes. Myers also excels on “Desde Otros Tiempos” and another Piazzolla classic, “La Muerte del Angel.” “La Cumparsola” is given a stirring ensemble reading, Ziegler’s arrangement of the famous “La Cumparsita” by Gerardo Matos Rodríguez. Aslan’s solid and knowing support here and elsewhere is outstanding.

Ziegler’s groups remain among the best interpreters of his mentor Piazzolla’s creation “new tango”, that wonderful blend of tango, classical and jazz elements.

Originally published in June 2007
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