Born in the brothels of Buenos Aires and schooled on the multi-ethnic streets, the music called “tango” is the long lost sister of American jazz. For over twenty years, bassist, composer, and bandleader Pablo Aslan has been reuniting these separated at birth sisters in music that blends the verve and blues of American jazz with the elegance and melancholy of the tango.
In his latest recording, Tango Grill, the Argentine-born Aslan brings together a tight ensemble of tango and jazz musicians, West Coast and East Coast players, and jazz and tango musical languages to create musical bilingualism. But this isn’t music just for the head; this is music that is lived in, played in the dance halls, in the intimate, cozy places.
And his band can bring it. On bandoneón is the master Nestor Marconi; the drummer’s chair is filled by Daniel Piazzolla, the grandson of the late New Tango master Astor Piazzolla; one of the true believers of tango jazz, Gustavo Bergalli; pianist Nicolas Ledesma; and as guest artist, the great multi-reedman and one of the creators of Latin Jazz, Paquito D’Rivera.
Tango, like jazz, is in danger of disappearing as a living art form. The money’s moved to greener pastures and the community of practicing musicians and teachers are a minority within a minority. And, similar to jazz, tango is less appreciated in the country of its birth than elsewhere. Those who grew up in Aslan’s generation bypassed it as the Perón government made it the music of national pride. We’re fortunate to have Aslan, a musician who has dedicated his life to the music of his land and to its growth. Tango Grill is the latest example of his dedication. It melds jazz’s drive into the new with intricate rhythms of traditional tango and is a welcome addition to his discography.