Paquito d'Rivera was long enamored with the tango as he was growing up and playing jazz in his native Cuba. After fleeing his homeland during the 1970s, he made a name for himself as a versatile alto saxophonist and clarinetist playing Latin jazz, bop, classical music, and more, though he longed to do an album of tango music. His 2010 concerts at Lincoln Center gave him the opportunity to play a blend of tango and jazz, not exactly the more tightly arranged traditional tango or Astor Piazzolla's "new tango," but a blend of tango themes and instrumentation with a lively dose of jazz improvisation. Bassist Pablo Aslan contributed most of the arrangements, while the cast included trumpeter Gustavo Bergalli, either Pablo Agri or Nicolas Danielson on violin, Michael Zisman or Raul Jaurena on bandoneon, plus pianist Abel Rogantini and drummer Daniel Piazzolla. Among the highlights are Aslan's driving "Beto," d'Rivera's haunting ballad "Bandoneón" featuring his lyrical clarinet, Astor Piazzolla's intense "Tanguajira," and a melancholy "Goodbye" (long used by Benny Goodman to wrap concerts) that remarkably changes its character with the tango instrumentation. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden