Buenos Aires-born bassist and composer Pablo Aslan is the leading exponent of the vibrant New York tango jazz scene. His sextet "Avantango" features the top Argentinian native tango and jazz musicians residing in New York. The collective experience of the ensemble members encompasses the Broadway hits "Tango Argentino" and "Forever Tango" to the tango projects of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, singers Julio Iglesias and Shakira, to the award-winning film "Tango". Pablo Aslan is founder, with bandoneonist Raul Jaurena, of the acclaimed tango ensembles New York Buenos Aires Connection and New York Tango Trio. He is also a member of Pablo Ziegler's Quintet for New Tango, and has performed and recorded with Grammy Award Winner Shakira, Joe Lovano, Gary Burton, Paquito D'Rivera, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Violinist Leonardo Suarez Paz is a pure-blood tanguero. As the son of one of the greatest tango violinists, he apprenticed alongside the best tango bandleaders in Buenos Aires and traveled the world with several tango shows. He has also worked with Latin pop star Luis Miguel and jazz great Stanley Jordan.
Bandoneon player Hector Del Curto has shared the stage with the world-renowned tango composers Astor Piazzolla and Osvaldo Pugliese. His prior CD recordings include performances on Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri's Grammy Award-winning collaboration "Masterpiece" , and recordings with Elvis Costello, Gary Burton, Pablo Ziegler, Cyrus Chestnut, Deborah Harry and Shakira.
Dario Eskenazi is a first-call pianist in Brazilian and Latin Jazz circuits. He is a member of the Caribbean Jazz Project, with whom he earned a 2003 Grammy for Latin Jazz. He was for many years a member of Paquito Rivera's quintet. His credits include concerts and recordings with Ruben Blades, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Dave Valentin, Herbie Mann, and Gato Barbieri.
Trumpet player Diego Urcola also is a member of Paquito D'Rivera's Quintet, and of Avishai Cohen's International Vamp Band. He has also toured and recorded with Slide Hampton, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Jimmy Heath, Steve Turre, Joe Henderson, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band.
Saxophonist and flutist Oscar Feldman apprenticed with Gato Barbieri, Dino Saluzzi, Al di Meola and Paquito D'Rivera. He joined as a lead alto the United Nations Orchestra founded by the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, conducted by Paquito D'Rivera, touring the US and Europe.
Roxana Fontan is one of the great tango singers performing today. A seasoned pro, with a classically trained, beautiful voice, she has recorded in Japan, Spain and Italy. Previous accomplishments include performing in the Carlos Saura film "Tango," and many theatrical productions and tango shows in Argentina, Colombia, Spain and the U.S.
Uruguayan-born pianist Gustavo Casenave is a much-in-demand tango and jazz pianist. A graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, and a private graduate student of vibraphonist Gary Burton, Gustavo performed with John Benitez, Manolo Badrena, Ray Vega, and Curtis Lundy.
Following are Pablo Aslan's comments on the repertoire on this CD:
Derviche (Aslan) - This tune landed on my head while walking out of my Brooklyn studio. It's got a "walking dervish" feel to it, sort of like a tango flavored with cardamom seeds.
Deus Xango (Piazzolla) - Piazzolla wrote this tune for his recording with Gerry Mulligan in the 1970's. Everybody my age growing up in Buenos Aires has memories of this record. I left the arrangement in the original key, coaxing Oscar to mine the depths of his tenor sax, with a fiery solo.
Vuelvo al Sur (Piazzolla) - This was my first arrangement for Roxana Fontan. The song is generally done much faster. I re-did it as a "Buenos Aires blues".
Sabateando (Aslan) - This is a new arrangement of the first piece I wrote for Avantango several years ago.
Escualo (Piazzolla) - Piazzolla wrote this great tune for his favorite violinist, Fernando Suarez Paz, Leo's father. Escualo is the scientific name for the shark family, and Piazzolla was an avid shark fisherman.
Malena (Lucio Demare - Homero Manzi) - When Roxana and I showed up at the recording session, we started out with Malena, an old classic we had played together many times. For the second take, she asked to lower the piece to F minor, and since I had never done it in that key, I could not rely on any cliches. She is a great artist to be on a tightrope with.
Amadeo (Aslan) is my first tune dedicated to a memorable futbolista. Amadeo Carrizo was a legendary goalkeeper in the 1960's. Diego delivers a trumpet solo reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie in his concerts with the tango orchestra of Osvaldo Fresedo in the 1950's, in Buenos Aires.
Beto (Aslan) - I dedicated this tune to Beto Alonso, one of my futbol (soccer) heroes as a kid. El Beto would produce something out of nothing and change the outcome of our Sunday afternoons. Memories of his ability to conjure magic and to make us happy inspired me to write the tune.
Verano Porteņo (Piazzolla) is one of Piazzolla's best known tunes, the theme is pure milonga. This arrangement is an adaptation of his classic quintet version.
El Enchanter (Aslan) is another Brooklyn tune, with middle-eastern melodies dwelling inside a Buenos Aires imagination.
Muchacha (ojos de papel) (Luis Alberto Spinetta) is a classic Argentine rock song done in a Montevideo milongon style. Roxana has been singing this song since she was little, and brings an exquisite sense of tango phrasing to her interpretation.
La Calle 92 (Piazzolla) Piazzolla wrote this tune during his last extended stay in New York, when he lived on the Upper West Side. It is the bluesiest of his compositions.
Recorded, mixed, and mastered at Pilot Recording Studio, NYC, in September-October 2003. Recorded by Will Schillinger and Matt Shane. Mixed by Will Schillinger, Matt Shane, and Pablo Aslan. Mastered by Will Schillinger. Produced by Pablo Aslan. Photography: Frank Oudeman, Carlos Quiroga (Reportango) Package design: 2712 Design Ltd, New York. Executive producer: Joachim Becker.