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292: My 10 Life-Changing Albums

Posted by jeff on May 24, 2019 in Other, Personal, Song Of the week

Today’s the last day of my Facebook Album Challenge, during which I chose 10 albums, 1 per day, *which made an impact* on me. “Post cover, no explanation,” said the mission statement.

For some of you, that might be a whee little jaunt down memory lane. For an obsessive-compulsive music nerd baby-boomer like myself, it’s torture.

First of all, define your terms. The challenge has been floating around for a while, and it’s been painful for me to watch you lay folks (i.e., normal people with a Real Life) abuse the concept of “Top 10 Albums” so crassly.

You talk about your ten “favorite” albums? That just drives me batty. What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Your ten most loved albums?

Your ten most esteemed albums?

Your ten most listened-to albums?

Your ten most impactful albums?

Those are such different questions.

So as is my wont, I distilled the question down to “most life-changing” for the challenge.
And being the rule-abiding nerd that I am, I made no comments on my postings.
Guess what? I’ve held it in too long. Here comes.

#1 “Meet the Beatles”

For the excitement.

Do I really need to explain that I don’t think this is The Beatles greatest achievement? Or can you figure out that as a 15-year old boy, just like those dumb girls on the screen were screaming outwardly, so I was screaming inside, even as I watched them poker-faced?

128: The Isley Brothers, ‘Twist and Shout’

251: The Maysles Brothers, “The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit”

229: The Beatles: ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’ (“Rubber Soul” at 50)

053: The Beatles, ‘In My Life’

214: The Beatles, ‘You’re Gonna Lose That Girl’

252: The Beatles, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

207: The Beatles, ‘Rocky Raccoon’; and Bob Dylan, ‘Frankie Lee and Judas Priest’/’Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts’

 

#2 “Another Side of Bob Dylan”

For opening my eyes.

Eight months and a million light years after the aforementioned, it was Dylan’s third album, the first one that I met in real time. I remember my head exploding, trying to grasp Bob Dylan. Fifty-five years later, I’m still working on it.

248: Bob Dylan, ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere’

190: Bob Dylan, ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’

008: ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine’, Fairport Convention (Bob Dylan)

016: Bob Dylan, ‘Percy’s Song’

176: Chuck Berry, ‘Too Much Monkey Business’ (Bob Dylan, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’)

201: Bob Dylan, ‘All Along the Watchtower’

126: Bob Dylan, ‘Tears of Rage’ (The Basement Tapes)

262: Bob Dylan, ‘Went to See the Gypsy’ (“Another Self-Portrait”)

087: Bob Dylan, ‘Black Diamond Bay’

204: Bob Dylan, ‘Idiot Wind’ (NY Sessions)

164: Bob Dylan, ‘Tangled Up in Blue

 

#3 The Beach Boys, “Pet Sounds”

For the unfathomable beauty.

I’ve been plumbing the depths of this album since it was released, and never grow tired of it, 52 years. Through the decades, over and over, I’ve listened to all 8 CDs of the bootlegged “Unsurpassed Beach Boys!” studio recordings, listening to how Brian built the tracks pulse by pulse, measure by measure, genius at every stroke. I’ve watched and rewatched all the Pet Sounds documentaries, and read all the books. I’ve listened through atomic earphones to every one of the dozen or so remastered versions, from duophonic to mono to stereo to whatever. That line in “Here Today” where the ukulele and the bass harmonica play in unison? I’ll let you know when I get tired of it.

230: The Beach Boys, ‘Here Today’ (“Pet Sounds” Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 14)

004: The Beach Boys, ‘Kiss Me Baby’

269: Brian Wilson, ‘Sandy’/’Sherri She Needs Me’/’She Says That She Needs Me’

158: Paul Simon, ‘Surfer Girl’

118: Brian Wilson, ‘Surf’s Up’ (“SMiLE”)

 

#4 Laura Nyro, “Eli & the 13th Confession”

For the holy spirit that filled her.

I fell in love with Laura the day I heard her, and will love her till the day I die.

This album has inspired me throughout my entire life. Still does.

036: Laura Nyro, ‘Sweet Blindness’ (“Eli & the 13th Confession”)

170: Laura Nyro, ‘Luckie’ (“Eli & the 13th Confession”)

202: Laura Nyro, ‘The Confession’

233: Laura Nyro, ‘And When I Die’

270: Laura Nyro, ‘Stoney End’ (Seattle Bootleg, 1971)

154: Laura Nyro, ‘Save the Country’

271: Laura Nyro, ‘Walk on By’ (Bootleg Collection)

 

#5 Bill Evans, “Live at the Village Vanguard”

For the aesthetic.

So passionate, so restrained.

So subtle, so intelligent, so refined. Rarely a week goes by without me listening to it.

060: The Bill Evans Trio, ‘Gloria’s Step’ from “Live at The Village Vanguard”

096: Bill Evans (solo), ‘Easy To Love’

244: Bill Evans/Miles Davis, ‘On Green Dolphin Street’

124: Bill Evans, ‘Nardis’

209: The Real Group: ‘Monica Vals’ (‘Waltz for Debby’)

 

#6 “James Taylor” (the Apple album)

For being my friend in the darkest hours.

James’ first album, the obscurity before “Sweet Baby James”. An 18 year old from a patrician family with a heroin addiction and a stay in a loony bin already under his belt. Remember how overwhelming the world was when you were 18? This album is unadulterated existential pain. “Road maps in a well-cracked ceiling.”

205: James Taylor, ‘Something’s Wrong’

112: James Taylor, ‘Yesterday’

056: James Taylor, ‘Secret O’ Life’

132: James Taylor, ‘Enough To Be On Your Way’

291: James Taylor, ‘Valentine’s Day’

136: James Taylor, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel – ‘Wonderful World’

046: James Taylor, “Never Die Young”

 

#7 The Swingle Singers, “Bach’s Greatest Hits”

For the doors it opened.

Their very first album. I bought it the day it hit arrived at Neumark’s in Swifton, captivated by the cover engraving. I was 14. It was my introduction to J.S. Bach, to vocal jazz, and to genre-busting. Still today the very sound of the album transports me to places long gone and places yet to be discovered.

139: The Swingle Singers, ‘On the 4th of July’ (James Taylor)

161, The Swingle Singers, ‘Sinfonia from Partita No.2 in C Minor’

 

#8 “The Buddy Holly Story”

For the honesty. And for the cool.

I was only 10 the day the music died. When I was 16, my sophisticated cousin took me to a bohemian bar in Cocoanut Grove, where the singer, one ‘Duane Storey’, performed an acoustic ‘Peggy Sue’. That performance is a centerpiece in the novel I’m currently engrossed in writing, 54 years later. Not to mention that Garcia and Weir and Lesh let me sing with them because I was the only one who knew the words to ‘That’ll Be the Day’.

070: Buddy Holly, ‘That’ll Be the Day’

155: Buddy Holly, ‘It Doesn’t Matter Anymore’

002: Buddy Holly, ‘Learning the Game’

122: George Harrison (The Beatles), ‘You Know What to Do’ b/w Buddy Holly, ‘You’re the One’

 

 

#9 Lee Konitz, “Subconscious-Lee”

For proving that ice also burns.

He was brilliant at 17. He was brilliant at 50. And he is still brilliant today at 91. I own over a hundred Lee Konitz recordings. Every one of them contains the sound of surprise.

040: Lennie Tristano Quintet, ‘317 East 32nd’ (Live in Toronto 1952)

027: Lennie Tristano, ‘Wow’

037: Lee Konitz, ‘Alone Together’ (w. Charlie Haden & Brad Mehldau)

134: Lee Konitz, ‘Duende’

 

#10 Glen Gould, J.S. Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier”

To JSB for bringing order to a chaotic world.

To GG for going all the way.

Anyone can play notes. Gould makes them come alive. He taught me about engagément – in theater, in life.

Bach? I can’t imagine the world without Bach.

005: Glenn Gould, Toccata in Cm (J.S. Bach)

077: J.S. Bach, ‘The Art of The Fugue’ (The Emerson Quartet, ‘Contrapunctus 9’)

113: J.S. Bach, ‘Prelude to Suite #2 for Unaccompanied Cello’ (Casals)

 

 
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149: Antony & the Johnsons: ‘Epilepsy is Dancing’

Posted by jeff on Feb 14, 2019 in Other, Song Of the week

Antony & the Johnsons — ‘Epilepsy is Dancing’

Antony & the Johnsons — ‘Cut the World’ (video) Caution: Disconcerting content.

Within each of us is both the bully and the victim.

You see someone, on hir knees, crying from pain. You walk past. Or you snicker. Or you throw something. Or you tie hir to a fence and beat hir to death. Or you stop and open your heart and and through hir pain embrace your own pain. And perhaps you feel just a bit more in harmony with your own personal universe.

It’s too easy to guffaw at Antony Hegarty (b. 1971) – his ‘questionable sexuality’, his naked candor, his queerness – a British>Californian transsexual who creates  minimalist art vignettes of pain and death and spirit and the universe as Antony & the Johnsons.

Art isn’t created by adhering to conventions, and Hegarty is an artist to be reckoned with. Since 2001 he has composed a heavenly host of ephemeral miniatures, which he plays on piano accompanied by a small string section, singing in the tremulous voice of a tortured angel. Each song is a prayer.

He can wrench you in a straightforward love song, such as ‘Hope There’s Someone’, or in a cover of a hackneyed contemporary standard, such as ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ or even ‘Imagine’.

But more frequently he moves in liminal, harrowing climes, such as in ‘Cut the World’.

For so long I’ve obeyed that feminine decree/I’ve always contained your desire to hurt me/But when will I turn and cut the world?//My eyes are coral, absorbing your dreams/My skin is a surface to push to extremes/My heart is a record of dangerous scenes/But when will I turn and cut the world?

From the video ‘Cut the World’, directed by Nabil, starring Willem Dafoeand Carice van Houten. The person at the end of the video is performance artist Marina Abramović.

‘Cut the World’ is the one new song on his brand-new CD of the same name, a collection of his ‘greatest hits’ (‘I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy’, ‘Cripple and the Starfish’), lushly accompanied by the Danish National Chamber Orchestra (oh, those great Danes!). This video is a horrifying harbinger of his vision of matriarchal systems of government overthrowing the world.

Be forewarned: this video is seriously disconcerting. It’s not for everyone, watch it only if you’re feeling very strong. Or very weak. I’m not going to comment on it — you don’t need me to explain the obvious, and I can’t explain the mysterious.

From his monologue ‘Future Feminism’: “I’ve been thinking all day about the moon. Is it an accident that women menstruate once a month and that the moon comes once a month? We’re made of 70% water. The whole ocean reacts to the full moon. I must be having a homeopathic relationship with the changing cycles of the moon. I’m made out of this place…The world menstruates.”

One of his most indelible creations is the perplexing ‘The Spirit Was Gone’. The video portrays a dance in the style of Butoh, an avant garde post-WWII Japanese performance aesthetic, often danced ultra-slowly in a sparse, grotesque setting in white makeup. One of the founders was Kazuo Ohno (1906-2010!!!), a captain in Hirohito’s army, a Baptist, and a gym teacher at a girls’ high school till the age of 86. In his 90s, unable to walk, he continued performing – moving only his hands. His picture is on the cover of Antony’s finest CD, “The Crying Light”. The dancer in this video is Kazuo Ohno’s son, Yoshito.

The spirit was gone from her body/Forever had always been inside/That shell had always been intertwined/And now were disentwined/It’s hard to understand.

If you’ve gotten this far, I assume you’re not laughing.

Antony and the Johnsons is a wonderful example of just how effective minimalism can be in genres as ranging far as contemporary classical music, trance, architecture, design, art. I discussed minimalism as an aesthetic in SoTW 086, Steve Reich’s ‘Different Trains’.

In Hegarty’s work, less is so clearly more. The power of his songs and videos derives from the strength of the visuals, the directness of the passion, and the restraint in presenting them devoid of any distractions. He stares unflinchingly into the eye of his own soul; and, if you allow it, into yours.

For our Song of The Week then, let’s unflinchingly choose one of his more challenging pieces, ‘Epilepsy is Dancing’, a subjective portrayal of an epileptic seizure. Neurologist Oliver Sacks, one of my favorite authors, describes some epileptic seizures as inducing “the flow of involuntary ‘reminiscence,’ the sense of revelation, and the strange, half-mystical ‘dreamy state’ that could be characteristic of these.” “Epilepsy is often associated with religious or mystical feeling.”

Epilepsy is dancing/She’s the Christ now departing/And I’m finding my rhythm/As I twist in the snow//Cut me in quadrants/Leave me in the corner/Ooh now, it’s passing/Ooh now, I’m dancing

Here’s the video of ‘Epilepsy is Dancing’. If I were going to have a religious epiphany, I hope it wouldn’t include cavorting gay satyrs and nymphs, but who knows what subconscious party favors he/she harbors within? Antony says he’s been thinking in terms of ‘molecular crystal formations’. I have no idea what that means. He gave a concert in Manchester in which the concert hall was transformed into a crystal cave filled with laser effects, and I’m truly sorry I missed that one.

But when he sings “Cut me in quadrants, leave me in the corner”, that I do get. It’s not a comfortable place, but it’s a very real one. I don’t listen to Antony and the Johnsons every day. But when I do, I sure don’t laugh.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

021: Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy, ‘Snake Out’
086: ‘Different Trains’, Steve Reich (Kronos Quartet)
110: Mongolian Throat Singing (The Occidental Tourist)

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110: Mongolian Throat Singing (The Occidental Tourist)

Posted by jeff on Jul 19, 2018 in Other, Song Of the week

Two cool cats doing their Mongolian Throat Singing thing.

Two cool cats

I guess everyone knows that Mongolian throat singing is a style in which two or more pitches sound simultaneously over a fundamental pitch, producing a unique and vibrating sound. And I guess most people also know that the singer does this by manipulating the resonances which are created as air travels from the lungs past the vocal folds and out the lips to produce a melody.

You may be as surprised as I was to learn that when people speak of Mongolian throat singing, they probably mean Tuvan throat singing. Tuva just doesn’t get its just due. It’s a proud republic of good old Mother Russia to the west ofMongolia. So one can empathize with the neglect those Tuvans must feel when everyone just lumps them as satellite ofMongolia. But apparently those who distinguish between the finer nuances of Mongolian and Tuvan throat singing spend more time kayaking on icy rivers than surfing the internet, because I couldn’t find a single coherent explanation of the difference between them. So I’ll just stick with my unfortunate fuzzy preconceptions.

Steppes

Mongolian throat singing has enjoyed quite a fad in the West in recent years. Here’s Bela Fleck covering one of Tuva’s Greatest Hits, ‘Alash Khem’, with the help of a guest throat singer who looks like he’s having a very good time up there. But we all know that that his kimono was made in Honduras, because the guy’s wearing an ear monitor. Still, he seems like a very good-natured guy. So here’s what appears to me to be the real thing, as far as I can figure it out (which admittedly ain’t too far) –  two ultra-cool dudes flashing their chops (somewhat literally) while they’re watching the river flow (wholly literally).

More Steppes

I don’t mean to leap into stereotyping Southern Central Asians, but they seem like a very cheerful sort of folk. It could be that my attitudes are colored by a story a guy named NM. once told me:

While I was hitch-hiking across Siberia in 1992, on my way from Novosibirsk to Kamchatka, I decided to take a detour through Mongolia. I really wanted to see a Bactrian (two-humped) camel. There aren’t many roads in rural Mongolia. Just lots of steppes. There are trails, but they’re more recommendations than proscribed paths. You just pick a direction and go. Which is what I was doing when this little old truck came along. I flagged it down. Folks didn’t see a lot of occidentals out there, let alone backpackers, so I guess I might have looked rather strange to them. Anyway, they did stop the truck, and I asked them where they were going. They smilingly told me their destination was a town (the demographic definition of a town in those parts is at least three yurts and two yaks) vaguely in my direction, about eight hours by steppe path. So I asked if I could travel with them. I told them I’d give them money for gas, and they smilingly agreed.

(L to R) Yurt, truck

I tossed my backpack in the back of the truck and climbed in. There was Pa Enkhbayar, Ma Enkhbayar, and three little Enkhbayars.

JM: How did you communicate?

NM: A little bit of Russian, a little bit of Chinese. Not a problem.

So we were rolling along, having a real good time. I was juggling for the little Enkhbayars, which kept them out of their parents hair for a while. After a few steppey hours, we came upon a nicely decked-out yurt. Pa Enkhbayar suggested we stop for a break and a repast, and I readily agreed. The hosts seemed rather nonplussed by our unannounced visit, despite the fact that there didn’t seem to be much traffic of locals on that particular steppe, let alone waigouren (foreigner) hitch-hikers.

(L to R) Yurt, horizon

They graciously asked us into their yurt. Before we sat down to eat, they showed me how to wash my hands in the traditional fashion. You fill your mouth with water from a canteen, yak-gut I think, then gradually release a stream of water onto your hands, rubbing them together. It works pretty well, actually. Then we sat down to eat.

JM: What was on the menu?

NM: Oh, I don’t think you want to know that.

Two cool bactrian camels having a woo!

Anyway, after the meal, they asked me if I’d like to play a game. “当然”, I said, and they brought out the paraphernalia from under the yak-hair mat. It consisted of a board; a long, narrow strip of handwritten paper with symbols and numbers, and four yak molars. They explained to me that each molar (right upper, right lower, you get the idea) had six faces (a small stretch of the imagination), each with its own unique shape which (to them) resembled another animal (dog, Bactrian camel, yak, you get the idea). I had a hard time discerning that. They explained that each participant in his turn rolls the molars, and according to the way they land, you consult the list of possibilities (dog-dog-yak-camel, for example) on the long, thin strip of paper and win a certain number of points, apparently in accordance with how common or rare that roll of the molars was. The winner of the game was the one who accumulated the most points. See, games are the same all over the world.

Urban Mongolia

NM: No, we were playing for woo.

JM: What’s ‘woo’?

NM: You know, “Woo!” Fun. Excitement.

JM: Oh.

I didn’t quite grasp the nuances of how the points were allocated, but they said I’d catch on as we played. Well, we were rolling along. I didn’t really understand too much, but we were all having a real good time, everybody smiling and laughing and smiling. Each one would roll the molars in his turn, they’d consult the long, thin strip of paper, and give out points. I really wasn’t sure how the competition was going, but it didn’t seem like anyone cared too much about that. They were just in it for the woo. But then after we’d been playing a while, it was my turn, and I rolled the molars. The host consulted the long, thin strip of options, and got this puzzled look on his face. He showed the handwritten strip to Pa Enkhbayar, who got the same puzzled look.

I asked what was wrong. They showed me the list, and the roll of the molars, and explained that my roll wasn’t on the list. They’d been playing Yak Dice for many centuries, and this had never happened.

(L to R) Yak, Yak owner

Well, I knew about Aces & Eights in poker and the tritone (diabolus in musica) in harmony, and I was just a little afraid of what the ramifications of my roll might be. But they kept smiling, and it seemed that nothing more had happened than a major woo. But it did seem pretty clear that no one wanted to press fortune further, so the game was over.

The Enkhbayars all made their good-byes and went out to the truck. I was thanking the hosts, telling them what a great time I’d had, when I heard the engine start up and the truck begin to drive away. I ran out of the yurt, hitting my head on the low opening, and saw that in fact the Enkhbayar truck was bouncing across the steppes toward the Mongolian horizon. “Wait!” I shouted. “Wait!! My backpack!!” Which of course had my passport, my money, and my other pair of socks. I was running as fast as my Western legs could carry me, eloquently pleading “Wait!!!”

Why was Pa Enkhbayar doing this? Had he just been waiting for the ripe opportunity to steal my bag? Was he afraid to transport a waigouren who made unnatural rolls of the yak molars?

Finally, after what seemed like five kilometers worth of steppes, the truck slowed down and allowed me to catch up. I ran to the window to see what had motivated Pa to behave so unexpectedly.OlePaEnkhbayar was laughing away. Laughing and smiling and laughing, and slapping his Mongolian knee. It seems he had been playing a practical joke on me.

I was too out of breath to do much laughing or even smiling myself, but when I think back on that day, it seems to me that the Mongolians really are a pretty good-natured people.

Well, NM, I guess you would know. All I know is that these two cats show no little aplomb, however the yak molars fall.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

030: The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Women’s Choir (Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares) – ‘Pilentze Pee’

068: Hermeto Pascoal, ‘Santa Catarina’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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115: Astor Piazzolla, “Tango: Zero Hour”

Posted by jeff on Jun 14, 2018 in Other, Song Of the week

Quiz: For which artist do you need to ask the salesperson, “Where do I find CDs by this guy, in Jazz, Pop or Classical?”

The answer, of course, is Astor Piazzolla, inventor of the New Tango. Most music salespeople won’t have heard of him, especially those in América del Norte. But there are legions of listeners around the globe, not just in his native Argentina, who recognize him as one of the most original and outstanding musical voices of the last hundred years.

Piazzolla reinvented a folk genre (traditional tango) as an art form, not dissimilar from what Duke Ellington did to jazz, what the Beatles did to rock and roll, what Bob Dylan did to folk music. He was a consummate musician on an instrument no one’s heard of (the bandoneon, a clunky accordion with buttons instead of keys), a courageous and stubborn artist of absolute integrity. He managed a long and prolific career, fighting artistic and political criticism from his homeland, constantly experimenting and growing artistically.

He began his musical career playing for disreputable tango bands in chintzy dance joints, then sojourned to American and France and Italy to study jazz and classical composition. He returned to his Argentinean tango roots and invented the Tango Nuevo, a remarkable style of a popular art music demanding the precision of a fugue, the inventiveness of jazz, the courage of 12-tone composition, the passion of the kitschiest of matinee singing, the dexterity of Argentinean football, and the heat of a chili pepper (aka aji puta pario).

Piazolla (1921-1992) was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina to Italian parents. From ages 3-16 he lived in New York City, where he was exposed to Bach and Rachmaninoff (from his Hungarian piano teacher), traditional tango and Gershwin (from his bandoneon teacher, with whom he began studying at nine), and Ellington and Calloway (from the ‘hood).  At 13 he met sex symbol Carlos Gardel, who had made tango into a craze in the US. Astor was so proficient on the bandoneon that Gardel invited him to join his band, but father Ninio deemed the boy too young. Gardel and his band died in a plane crash. “If my father hadn’t been so careful, I’d have been playing the harp instead of the bandoneon.”

For those of you who need reality to be confirmed by Hollywood, here’s Al Pacino dancing to music by Carlos Gardel in “Scent of a Woman”. Here are a couple of professionals in a very, very steamy tango. Here’s Carlos Gardel himself dancing in 1922.

At 16, he returned to Argentina with the family, then two years later moved to Buenos Aires where he began making his mark in a series of traditional tango bands and orchestras. All the while he continued to study American jazz as well as classical music (especially Bartok, Stravinsky and Ravel), piano, theory and (at the urging of pianist Arturo Rubenstein who was living in Buenos Aires) composition with the best teachers Argentina had to offer. His controversial concerto for bandeon and orchestra won him a grant to study in France in 1954, where he studied composition with the legendary Nadia Boulanger (teacher of Aaron Copland and Philip Glass). She read through his ‘kilos’ of symphonies and sonatas and said, “It’s very well written. But I can’t find Piazzolla in this.”

He returned to Argentina, formed an octet that treated the sleazy tango as chamber music rather than dance accompaniment. I can’t help but think of other major 20th century artists who left their provincial home, traveled afar to learn High Culture, and returned to their roots to make a career out of reevaluating those folk materials they knew so well – artists such as Marc Chagall, S.Y. Agnon and I.B. Singer, Federico García Lorca, Béla Bartók, a myriad of others.

There’s a saying, “In Argentina everything may change – except the tango.” Well, Astor succeeded in pissing off the public as well as appearing to the politicians as an independent-thinking troublemaker—not a healthy image in Argentina. In 1958 he returned to New York, then later back to Argentina where he formed his first Tango Nuevo quintet. With them and in other formats he collaborated with Borges, Gerry Mulligan and others, wrote symphonies and film scores and electronic music and songs, achieving some commercial success. In the early 1970s, during the reign of Los Generales, he felt it safer to live in Italy. He toured the world and his reputation grew. Back in New York in the 1980s he formed his definitive second Tango Nuevo quintet and made his best recordings, including his favorite, “Tango: Zero Hour.”

Piazzolla imagined la hora cero as the time after midnight, “an hour of absolute end and absolute beginning.” The entire CD is a work of wonder, “cosmopolitan and streetwise, erudite but also passionate, elegant yet tough’. It’s a sound palette you’re unaccustomed to – bandoneon, violin, piano, guitar and bass. Turn off your prejudices for a moment. Listen to this mind-popping marriage of passion, virtuosity and technical precision. Something like the tango itself.  It’s a world unto itself, a unique personal vision that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I do.

Our Song of The Week is the opening cut, Tanguedia III. It begins with the guys chanting Piazzolla’s formula for Tango Nueva: Tango, tragedia, comedia, kilombo (kilombo means both whorehouse and mess, just like the Arabic ‘bardak’).

For additional listening/viewing edification:

Adios Noninio, his famous elegy for his father

Libertango, live, with Yo Yo Ma sitting in on cello

Oblivion, performed by violinist Gidon Kremer

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

044: Paul Robeson, ‘Go Down, Moses’

068: Hermeto Pascoal, ‘Santa Catarina’

088: Lizz Wright, ‘Old Man’

 

 

 

 

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