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THE SUNDAY CONCERT: Astor Piazzolla Live at Montreal Jazz

Astor Piazzolla: Chronology of a Revolution

Text: Jorge Pessinis & Carlos Kuri
English translation & page design: Francisco Luongo

(Reproduced for educational purposes from http://www.piazzolla.org)

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla was born on March 11, 1921 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, only child of Vicente “Nonino” Piazzolla and Asunta Mainetti. In 1925, the family relocates to New York City until 1936 with a brief return to Mar del Plata in 1930.

In 1929, when Astor is 8 years old, his father gives him his first bandoneon which he had bought at a pawn shop for 19 dollars. Astor studies the bandoneon for one year with Andrés DÁquila and he makes his first record, Marionette Spagnol; a phonograph disk (non commercial) at the Radio Recording Studio in New York on 11/30/1931.

In 1933 he studies with the Hungarian pianist Bela Wilda, disciple of Rachmaninov, and of whom Astor would later say “With him I learned to love Bach”. Shortly thereafter, he meets Carlos Gardel who becomes a good friend of the family and with whom he takes part in the movie “El Dia Que me Quieras”, playing a brief part as a newspaper boy. This feature film plays a monumental role in the history of Tango.

In 1936, he returns with the family to Mar del Plata, Argentina for good, where Astor begins to play in some tango orchestras. It is here that he makes his second grand discovery (after Bach with Bela Wilda), when he listens to Elvino Vardaro’s sextet on the radio, Elvino would later become Astor’s violinist. That alternative way of interpreting Tango deeply touches him and he becomes an admirer of Elvino.

He plays on some second rate tango orchestras until 1939, when he realizes his dream of playing bandoneon within one of the greatest tango orchestras of that time; the Anibal Troilo orchestra.

Astor feels the need to advance musically, and already being the arranger of the Troilo orchestra, he begins his musical studies with Alberto Ginastera in 1941, and later in 1943, he  studies piano with Raúl Spivak. His works are too advanced for the time and Troilo edits them so as to not scare off dancers.  cards naples  polaroid borgianus kafkaris

In 1943, he begins his “classical” works with the “Suite para Cuerdas y Arpas” and in 1944 he leaves Troilo’s orchestra to lead the orchestra which accompanies singer Francisco Fiorentino, he plays with Firoentino until 1946, when he forms his first orchestra, which is later dissolved in 1949. With this orchestra, with a similar formation to the other orchestras of the day, he begins to develop his creative impulses with his works and orchestrations with a big dynamic and harmonic content. That tango, of the young and daring director, more modern and different, begins to incite the first controversies among traditional tangueros.

In 1946 he composes, “El Desbande”, considered by Piazzolla as his first formal tango, and shortly thereafter he begins to compose musical scores for movies.

In 1949 he feels the need to disband the orchestra and part with the bandoneon, and almost abandons tango altogether. He searches for something else, a different destiny. He continues to study Bartok and Stravinsky, he studies orchestra direction with Herman Scherchen, he listens to lots of Jazz. His search for a style becomes obsessive, he longs for something that has nothing to do with tango. Everything was a mess and Astor decides to drop the bandoneon to dedicate himself to write and pursue his musical studies. He is 28 years old.

Between 1950 and 1954 he composes a series of works, clearly different from the conception of tango at the time, and that further define his unique style: Para lucirse, Tanguango, Prepárense, Contrabajeando, Triunfal, Lo que vendrá.

In 1953 he presents the work “Buenos Aires” (three symphonic pieces) – composed in 1951 – for the Fabien Sevitzky competition. Piazzolla wins the first prize and the work is performed at the Law School in Buenos Aires by the symphonic orchestra of “Radio del Estado” with the addition of two bandoneons and under the direction of Sevitzky himself. It is a full-blown scandal, at the end of the concert there is a generalized fist-fight due to the strong reaction of some members of the audience that consider it an indignity to include bandoneon in the “cult” setting of a symphonic orchestra.

One of the prizes he won at this composition contest was a scholarship from the French governement to study in Paris (where he goes in 1954), with Nadia Boulanger, considered the best educator in the world of music at the time. At first, Piazzolla tries to hide his tanguero past and his bandoneon work, thinking that his destiny is in classical music. This situation is quickly remedied when he opens his heart to Boulanger and he plays his tango “Triunfal” for her. From then on he receives a historic recommendation: “Astor, your classical pieces are well written, but the true Piazzolla is here, never leave it behind”

After this episode, Piazzolla returns to tango and to his instrument, the bandoneon. What was once a choice between the sophisticated music or tango, now would be sophisticated music and tango, but in the most efficient way: to work the structure of sophisticated music with the passion of the tango. In Paris, he composes and records a series of tangos with a string orchestra and he begins to play the bandoneon while standing up, he puts one leg on a chair, a trait that would characterize him on the music scene (Most bandoneonists play sitting down).

When Piazzolla returns to Argentina (1955) he continues with the strings orchestra and he also forms a group, the Octeto Buenos Aires, which is the beginning of the contemporary tango age. With a makeup of two bandoneons, two violins, double bass, cello, piano, and an electric guitar, he produces innovative works and interpretations which break away from classic tango, he breaks away from the original mold of an “orquesta tipica” and creates chamber music instead, music without a singer or any dancers. He continues his personal revolution and continues to generate hatred among the orthodox tangueros, becoming the target of very mean  criticism. He does not sway and keeps going on the path which he more than ever deems his own, but the media and record labels make it an uphill battle. In 1958 he disbands the octet and the strings orchestra and he goes back to New York City to work as an arranger.

Between 1958 and 1960 he works in the US, where he experiments with Jazz-Tango with negative results and where, because of the death of his father in October 1959, he writes while in New York his famous, “Adiós Nonino”. Upon his return to Argentina, he creates the first of many famous quintets, playing New Tango (bandoneon, violin, bass, piano, and electric guitar). The quintet was Piazzolla’s most beloved formation; the musical synthesis that best expressed his ideas.

In 1963 he premieres under the direction of Paul Klecky: “Tres Tangos Sinfonicos” (Hirsch Prize) and in 1965 he makes two of his most important records: Piazzolla at the Philarmonic Hall New York, which has the works he played at a concert at the hall with the quintet in May 1965; and “El Tango”, of historical  value, a product of his friendship with Jorge Luis Borges.

In 1966 he leaves Dedé Wolff. In 1968 he begins an extensive collaboration with the poet Horacio Ferrer, with whom he composes the “operita” Maria de Buenos Aires; beginning a new style: the tango song. Around that time he begins dating the singer Amelita Baltar.

In 1969, with Horacio Ferrer, he composes “Balada para un loco”, presented at the First Iberoamerican Music Festival, where he receives second place. This work turned out to be his first popular hit, premiered by Amelita Baltar with Piazzolla himself conducting the orchestra.

In 1970 he returns to Paris where, with Ferrer, he composes the oratorio “El Pueblo Joven”, the premiere of which was in Saarbuck, Germany in 1971. That same year he forms the Conjunto 9, acting in Buenos Aires and in Italy where they tape many shows for RAI. This group was like a dream for Piazzolla: the picture-perfect chamber music formation he had always wanted and for which he composed his most elaborate music, but the economic impossibility of keeping the group together led to its dissolution.

In 1972 he plays at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires for the first time, sharing the bill with other Tango orchestras. In 1973, after a period of great productivity as a composer, he suffers a heart attack which forces him to reduce his artistic activities.

That same year (1973) he decides to move to Italy where he begins a series of recordings which span 5 years, the most famous being “Libertango”, a work that is widely accepted in the European Community.

During these years he forms the “Conjunto Electronico”: an octet made up of bandoneon, electric piano and/or acoustic piano, organ, guitar and electric bass, drums, synthesizer and violin, which was later substituted for flute or saxophone. Later, in 1975 Jose A. Trelles is incorporated as a singer with a formation that alternates between Argentinean and European musicians. This group had nothing to do with the previous ones, and many considered this change as an approach to jazz-rock: but according to Piazzolla, “That was my music, it had more to do with tango than with rock”

In 1974 he separates from Amelita Baltar. That same year he records with the saxophonist Gerry Mulligan a great record: Summit, with an Italian orchestra. The music that Piazzolla composes for this disc is characterized by the exquisite melody of the bandoneon and the saxophone on top of a rhythmic base. Aníbal Troilo dies in 1975 and Piazzolla composes the “Suite Troileana” in his memory, a work in four parts, which he records with the Conjunto Electronico, with A. Agri playing violin.

In 1976 he meets who would be his last wife, Laura Escalada. In December of the same year he plays an extraordinary concert at the Gran Rex theater in Buenos Aires, where he presents his work, “500 motivaciones”, written especially for the Conjunto Electronico. In 1977, he plays another memorable concert at the Olympia in Paris, with a similar formation as before, but with musicians with roots closer to rock. This is the last time he has an “electric” group. Piazzolla regrettably stops making reference to Chick Corea’s international sound and even though the Conjunto Electronico makes good music, he doesn’t consider it the real Piazzolla. In 1978, the second incarnation of the quintet is born, the one that would make Piazzolla world renowned. He also restarts his dedication to chamber music and symphonic works.

The next ten years are the best for Piazzolla as far as his popularity is concerned. He intensifies his concerts all over the world: Europe, South America, Japan, and the United States. During a period which lasts until 1990 he does a series of concerts mostly with the quintet, and also as a symphonic solo  performer and as a chamber musician; and in his final years with his final group, the sextet, and with string quartets. There are many live recordings of the numerous concerts, many of them on CD. This in some way proves what is frequently said: Piazzolla’s music does not exist unless he plays it; him playing the music is a testament to the style, which we could define as the aesthetics of a musical state of mind.

In 1982 he writes “Le Grand Tango” for cello and piano, dedicated to Russian cellist, Mtislav Rostropovitch and premiered by him in 1990 in New Orleans. In June of 1983 he puts on one of the best shows of his life: he plays a program dedicated to his music at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the big scenario of classical music in Argentina. For the occasion he regroups the Conjunto 9 and he plays solo with the symphonic orchestra directed by Pedro I. Calderón, playing the beautiful “Concert for bandoneon and orchestra.”

In 1984 he plays with the singer Milva at the Bouffes du Nord and in Vienna with the quintet where he records a live album “Live in Wien.” In 1985 he is named an exceptional citizen of Buenos Aires and he premieres the concert for bandoneon and guitar :     Homenaje a Lieja, under the direction of Leo Brouwer at the Fifth International Belgian Guitar Festival.

In 1986 he receives the Cesar prize in Paris for the score of the film “El exilio de Gardel” and with Gary Burton he records “Suite for Vibraphone and New Tango Quintet”, live at the Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. In 1987 he records with the St. Luke’s orchestra directed by Lalo Schifrin, the “Concert for bandoneon” and “Three Tangos” for bandoneon and orchestra.

The concert which takes place in 1987 in New York’s Central Park in front of a massive audience, is a rejuvenating experience for Piazzolla. The city where he spent his childhood, where he became mesmerized by the music of Bach and Jazz, and where he failed in 1958, finally pays attention to his music. The records released in the US in the late 80s document his life: Tango Zero Hour, Tango Apasionado, La Camorra, Five tango Sensations (with the Kronos quartet), Piazzolla with Gary Burton, etc.

In 1988, a few months after recording what would be his final record with the quintet (La Camorra), he undergoes a quadruple bypass. Shortly thereafter, early in 1989, he froms what would be his last group: the New Tango Sextet of unusual characteristics: two bandoneons, piano, electric guitar, bass and cello. With this group, in June of 1989 he plays at the Teatro Opera in Buenos Aires in what would be his last concert in Argentina and he begins an extensive tour throughout the US, Germnay, England, and Holland.

Towards the end of 1989 he dissolves his group and continues playing solo with string quartets and symphonic orchestras. Until August 4, 1990, in Paris, when he suffers a stroke. After almost 2 years of suffering the consequences of this incident, he dies in Buenos Aires on July 4, 1992.

His opus, comprising more than 1000 works, a characteristic career and an undoubtedly Argentinian flavor, continues to influence the best musicians in the world of all generations. For example, the violinist Gidon Kremer, the cellist Yo-Yo-Ma, the Kronos Quartet, the pianists Emanuel Ax and Arthur Moreira Lima, the guitarist Al Di Meola, the Assad brothers, and numerous chamber music and symphonic orchestras. A career characterized by his aesthetic power and his unique style, almost in a league of its own. His music is unmatched; when we listen to it we are obligated to question the roots and say, “This is Piazzolla”. It is all about the “language” he created, which is unique and can be identified as his and only his. With hetergenous and rebellious elements (Jazz, classical music, experiments in sound) he produced a unique music under the drastic pulse of his Tango.

 

Until next time.

Ignacio

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©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera

 

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BRIDGES OVER ARTISTIC WATERS

Crystal Bridges Museum Jazz Alperin

Thanks to the gracious invitation by the CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, I participated in the inauguration of their new exhibition by painting live at the Museum Amphitheater on May 11th, 2016.

I am very grateful for the invitation and the opportunity to visit this incredible new American Museum.

Here are some images from the event, in which I had the pleasure of painting to the music of a great band, Crusades.

 


CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

For those who don´t know this beautiful and exciting modern American Museum, here is a little introduction:

Alice Walton, the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, spearheaded the Walton Family Foundation’s involvement in developing Crystal Bridges. The museum’s glass-and-wood design by architect Moshe Safdie and engineer Buro Happold features a series of pavilions nestled around two creek-fed ponds. The complex includes 217,000 square feet (20,200 m2) of galleries, several meeting and classroom spaces, a library, a sculpture garden, a gift shop designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, a restaurant and coffee bar.

Don Bacigalupi was appointed director of the museum in August 2009. In early May 2011, the museum announced three endowments by the Walton Family Foundation totaling $800 million. These endowments were established for operating expenses, acquisitions and capital improvements.

Notable works include a Charles Willson Peale portrait of George Washington as well as paintings by George Bellows, Jasper Cropsey, Asher Durand, Thomas Eakins, Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson, Charles Bird King, John LaFarge, Stuart Davis, Romare Bearden, Norman Rockwell, Mary McCleary, Agnes Pelton, Walton Ford, Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, Alfred Maurer, Jackson Pollock and Tom Wesselman.


Until next time!

Ignacio

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Art under the Sun

As most of you know, thanks to the Naples Art Association, and in conjunction with the Stay in Naples Festival 2016 (formerly the ArtNaples Festival) I am exhibiting in this beautiful little piece of Paradise.

The care that is taken in every detail, and the beauty and tranquility of its palm lined streets, can only be matched by the warmth and open smile of its inhabitants.

For those who have never been to this beautiful town and its glorious beaches, I urge you to have a look at some Art under the Sun… (music by Michael Franks)

See you next time.

Ignacio

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©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera

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THE SUNDAY CONCERT: Jamie Cullum at Java

We are going fulll speed ahead today to someone who is vey much a growing XXIst Century icon.

A bit of pop and a lot of jazz are the influences for Jamie Cullum (born 20 August 1979).

Jamie is an English jazz-pop singer-songwriter. Though he is primarily a vocalist/pianist he also accompanies himself on other instruments including guitar and drums. Since April 2010, he has been presenting a weekly jazz show on BBC Radio 2, broadcast on Tuesdays from 19:00.

Here he is live at Jave Jazz Festival 2014. Enjoy!

 

Until next time.

Ignacio

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©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera

 

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THE SUNDAY CONCERT: Charles Mingus in Belgium, Norway & Sweden

Jazz great Charles Mingus was born on April 22, 1922, in Nogales, Arizona, and grew up in Los Angeles. The renowned bassist performed with such legends as Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker, and earned acclaim for his work as a bandleader and recording artist. After struggling with depression, Mingus made a successful comeback in the 1970s. He died in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on January 5, 1979. (From Biography.com)

Until next time.

Ignacio

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©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera

 

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A painter gifted with the art of listening (Florida Weekly)

BY LINDSEY NESMITH

 

Ignacio Alperin’s exhibition “A Visual Jazz Affair” is showing at The von Liebig Center through June 3.  Synesthesia, the neurological phenomenon where the activation of one of the five senses stimulates another, could be considered to be a quirk of human evolution. Being able to smell laughter is an odd talent, but is also nothing Works by Ignacio Alperin on display at The von Liebig Art Center through June 3 include, clockwise from above left, “Paper Moon,” “Whatever Lola Wants” and “Kind of Blue (and Ochre Too).” to get worked up about if you happen to be the one person out of 2,000 who experience it.

If you’re an artist however, synesthesia can be a wonderful gift, particularly if you have an affinity for music and the ability to visualize it.

Argentinean artist Ignacio Alperin, whose exhibition “A Visual Jazz Affair” is showing at The von Liebig Center through Friday, June 3, is so blessed: He “sees” music as he hears it. His work is often compared to that of Kandinsky, who he learned also experienced sound-to-color synesthesia.

Works by Ignacio Alperin on display at The von Liebig Art Center through June 3 include….

FOR THE FULL ORIGINAL ARTICLE PLEASE GO HERE TO: FLORIDA WEEKLY

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Until next time!

Ignacio

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©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera

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OF 2017 PREPARATIONS AND PRESENT DAY EXHIBITIONS

Stay in May 2016 (Art Naples World Festival 2016) has come to an end.

Since my arrival in Naples two weeks ago, as a guest of the Naples Art Association and the Festival, I was constantly surprised by the talent, the care, and the commitment of everyone involved. From the volunteers to the organizers, everyone´s involvement in every single detail results in a magnificent cultural event.

There are many people involved. Most I have met although I don´t know all their names. In the personal recognition to Trey Farmer (President and CEO of the Festival) and Maestro William Noll (the great Artistic Director), I wish to congratulate and thank everyone whom with their work, financial support, and public support of every event, managed to make of this year´s festival such a pleasure. I know Trey and Maestro Noll are already thinking about 2017 and in how to make this great cultural show an even bigger event.

In my particular case I want to thank the Naples Art Association for their support and gracious invitation. To the NAA Board members, to Aimee Schlehr (the Executive Director), Maureen, Phyllis, Amy, Rossana, Don, Chelsea, Lynn, Kenny, Alex (I am sorry if I forget someone´s name) and every single smiling and generous volunteer. And a very special thanks to Jack O´Brien, curator of the NAA and of my exhibition. Thank you Jack for thinking of me, for working so hard to get this exhibition up and running, and for your constant support and generosity. Few people know that this exhibition was almost 6 months in the (long distance) making and that without Jack´s patience and wonderful ideas about putting together a solid event, this would not have happened. So, once again, thank you Jack!


PHOTO_20160508_151927Even though the STAY IN MAY FESTIVAL 2016 has ended, in our case the IGNACIO ALPERIN: A VISUAL JAZZ AFFAIR exhibition continues.

That is why we hope to see you at the Watson Gallery (Naples) until June 3rd. Come in and say hello. You may find something different and new to see. And just maybe, you may even fall in love with one of my original art pieces and be tempted to make Naples its new home.


In the meantime, I leave you with a little glimpse of some of the performances, and the artists, who made the gallery come alive during this past week as part of the Festival´s Two O´Clock Series. They include Maestro William Noll, Russia´s Nadir Khashimov (violin) and Pilipp Kopachevsky (piano), the Belarussian State Chamber Orchestra conducted by Maestro Evgeny Bushkov, Moldova´s Milana Strezeva (piano), Costa Rica´s Daniela Navarro (piano), American Lyric Soprano Nancy Peery Marriott, and all the young soloists and ensembles who graced us with their talent during the final Mother´s Day concert. To all of them, a wonderful standing ovation!

 

Until next time!

Ignacio

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©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera

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THE (late) SUNDAY CONCERT: Singing in the Rain with Martin & Lewis

This is a late concert. Late because, being on tour, it is not always easy to get through all the work. So this is a special type of concert.

There is music involved, and very good music (at least when they allow the great musicians to play) and there are loughs, and slapstick, and made up jokes along the way, and a live camera with a live audience that was not ready or prepared to see what actually happened. It is also short (almost 8 minutes or so) because it is late on a Sunday and you probably don´t want to spend 2 hours listening or watching right now.

But it is still cool, it is a snippet of a Golden era of television, it is a bit of great music, and it is a lot of fun.

So here they are. Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis during the Colgate Comedy hour in November 1950 doing their very own, very live, and very ad-lib version of a true  classic: “Singing in the Rain”.

Enjoy.

Until next time.

Ignacio

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©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera