REVIEW: Jazz Festival: Pablo Ziegler
Opera House, June 6
Chick Corea and Gary Burton
Michael Fowler Centre, June 6
On the surface it might seem incongruous to have a concert of tango music in the middle of a jazz festival but, tenuous or not, there is a perceptible umbilical cord at play here.
Astor Piazzolla, the father of Nuevo Tango, left Argentina to study composition in France. In Paris he saw the Gerry Mulligan Octet and was so impressed with the group's artistic harmony and rhythmic structure it drove him to change his musical path. Now the emphasis was less on the dance but more on the classical form or as Piazzolla would later say: "To me, the tango was always about the ear rather than the feet."
Even though he received death threats and had a gun pressed against his head for daring to mess with the music, Piazzola would go on to record not only with Gerry Mulligan but with the night's other star - playing less than an hour after Pablo Ziegler's concert - Gary Burton.
Ziegler, who performed with Piazzolla over a period of many years, is a world class pianist and wrote many of the tunes played in the set. Many of the pieces resembled movie scores, rich and atmospheric they jumped effortlessly from dark and sonorous to light and frothy.
With over 20 members of the NZSO and Orchestra Wellington - including flute, French horn and bassoon and with a rhythm section of double bass and percussion, all of whom it must be said were given ample room to shine - it was a stunning success. It was a shame that the bandoneon was played only once.
Chick Corea had flown in from Lisbon and Burton from Miami, and the air conditioning of the venue unsettled them for a few numbers. But the vibraphone took us dancing in our minds, the sonic dimensions quite mesmerising, sometimes flashy, Burton often caressing while being imaginative, forever searching, seemingly coaxing notes out of thin air. In his hands the mallets were like flying chopsticks and a perfect foil for the piano. Corea has his own style, so much so that he inhabits the tune rather than the style of the pianists associated with the pieces.
We hear nothing of Brubeck (Strange Meadow Lark), Tatum (Can't We Be Friends) or Bill Evans (Waltz For Debby) in these songs, just a consummate pianist. Once again the festival organisers got it right.
- The Dominion Post
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