Gerry Mulligan

Gerry Mulligan/Astor Piazzolla (1974)

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Astor Piazzolla, the Argentinean master of the bandoneon (an instrument very similar to the accordion) and a revolutionary who recast the tango into something very new, invited the baritone sax legend Gerry Mulligan to record with his group in a Milan studio in 1974. Piazzolla's works have seemed to grow in stature since his sudden death following a stroke in 1992. While it's a shame that Mulligan never got an opportunity to record the leader's well-known ballad "Adios Nonino," there are many highlights, including the dramatic "Deus Xango," a wistful ballad "Close Your Eyes and Listen," and the reflective "20 Years After." Although he has few extended solos on this CD, Mulligan composed "Aire de Buenos Aires" (which frees up the group from Piazzolla's more tightly structured works), and he adds an important new voice to Piazzolla's music. The rather strangely muddied sound of this reissue makes the strings (violin, viola, and cello) often sound like a synthesizer, and the percussion is often a bit heavy-handed; perhaps this is why Piazzolla downsized later groups to omit drums. Fans of Piazzolla will want to pick up this once-again unavailable release, while it may be more of a historical curiosity for most Mulligan collectors