CD review: Orchestre National De Jazz

(Jazz Village)

We can always rely on the Paris-based ONJ to bring a fresh approach to well-worn material. Last time out it was the music of Robert Wyatt; this time it is the great Argentine composer.

Of course it goes without saying that the tango nuevo  of Astor Piazzolla is fine music no matter whose hands it is in, but it also deserves the most sophisticated and inovative of interpreters, because, like the mineral wealth of the earth, it might have already glittered and sparkled but it still contains many still unmined layers.

Artistic director Daniel Yvinec says in the sleevenotes: “Piazzolla is like getting close to the heart of a fire and digging deep for the strength to carry these extraordinary melodies, those that will smoke out our buried emotions.”

Assisting the band to smoke out those emotions is arranger Gil Goldstein, who is a dab hand at combining acoustic and electric instruments, jazz and rock influences, and using fresh instrumental textures.

So, In Libertango, we get puffing flutes against Fender Rhodes with minimalist horn patterns; in the ten-minute long mix of Chiequilin de Bachin and Balada Para Un Loco we get tenor saxophone against a precise bass guitar pulseat the start and some well-orchestrated chaos near the end.

Mi Refugio features some distinctly Gil Evans-tinged horn harmonies, a lot of space around the saxophone solo, and the fact that there is none of the usual Piazzolla tango pulse behind it helps to bring out a different, more reflective side to the music.

A very fine album indeed – not only for Piazzolla fans but for anyone interested in very fine music, irrespective of description.

Categories: CD review

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