Those who heard France’s Orchestre National de Jazz playing Robert Wyatt’s music during the Sydney Festival will remember the fine detail and exotic sonorities illuminating their best arrangements. Here Daniel Yvinec’s band turns its attention to Astor Piazzolla’s tango nuevo masterpieces.
This time Gil Goldstein has penned the arrangements for the 10-piece band of three saxophones/clarinets, flute, trumpet, guitar, piano, keyboards/electronics, bass/electronics and drums. As was the case with Wyatt’s music they come at Piazzolla afresh. The tango rhythms are often blurred, for instance, and several scores are made to creep and crawl with electronic overlays.
The much loved Libertango begins with a toy-town world of popping flutes and guitar ripples. The melody is initially carried by a Fender Rhodes (Vincent Lafont) that has been lacerated by effects pedals, and then it is allowed to spill around the saxophone section in a way that sounds as if Libertango is being dreamed rather than actually played.
Most importantly they bring improvising to bear, and while the band contains no truly great soloists they deploy the skills at their disposal to such good effect and in such beguiling contexts that the music never meanders.
The casualty is sometimes Piazzolla’s unerring elegance, but the experiment was worth it. The great Argentinean’s music gracefully accommodates being reinterpreted, and even thrives on a pinch of French flavour.