Astor Piazzolla

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The edición crítica underway under the joint auspices of BMG's Japanese and Argentine arms is a presentation of Astor Piazzolla's LP releases of the 1970s and 1980s as they originally appeared in Argentina. The entire project is fascinating, for it reveals a musician much different from the one held in general perceptions. Piazzolla became better known internationally at the end of his life, it's true, but he also became known for a group of classic pieces, and the sheer variety of the music that got him to that point was temporarily lost. This disc, for example, presents Piazzolla as an accompanist to spoken poetry by his longtime collaborator, Horacio Ferrer. They point in an imaginary conversation in the original liner notes (included as always, but only in Spanish) to similar projects involving other Spanish-language poets, but one suspects they also had the intersection between beat poetry and bebop jazz in mind, for Piazzolla shows a lot of freedom in his approach. Indeed, the album represents Piazzolla, who usually planned his music out in detail and notated most of it, at his most improvisatory and relaxed. Like the Piazzolla songs with texts by Ferrer, the mood of these poems alternates between the Buenos Aires-at-midnight gloom of Piazzolla's darker tangos and more frankly romantic sentiments. Piazzolla seems to have fun with both aspects. Texts are in Spanish and Japanese; Ferrer's poetry, though difficult, will yield its ideas to non-native speakers of Spanish (or Japanese), but given the tremendous popularity of Piazzolla in North America BMG is missing an opportunity for wider release of this and other albums in the series. This disc is something of a footnote to Piazzolla's career, certainly not the item to start with in this series, but neither is it devoid of interest for the serious Piazzolla fan.

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