Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Julio Botti Sax To Tango

Julio Botti, Pablo Ziegler Producer
Sax To Tango
Zoho Music

"Sax To Tango" is the second CD collaboration between Argentine born, but New York domiciled saxophonist Julio Botti and his celebrated mentor and colleague, Nuevo Tango pianist, arranger and composer Pablo Ziegler. The prior recording, a Latin Grammy nominee, featured classic quintet settings with occasional string quartet accompaniment, while the present recording is more ambitious in its arrangements featuring The University of Southern Denmark Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Argentine conductor Saul Zaks in a selection of nine iconic Astor Piazzolla Nuevo tangos, one Tango standard, and three compositions by producer Ziegler who also plays piano. The recording sessions were scheduled in connection with a live concert of the material.

As Ziegler observes the saxophone was never a traditional tango instrument but he finds Botti able to express Nuevo Tango as if a tango singer and the orchestrations both frame his vocalized and passionate playing but add to the romanticism inherent in the music. This becomes clear on the opening "Primavera Porteña," part of Astor Piazzolla's "Los Cuarro Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires)," which was inspired by Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" but composed at different times and not primarily intended to be performed together or in seasonal sequence. This composition is a celebration of spring and followed by "Invierno Porteño," a celebration of winter. Both compositions and the lovely orchestration allow plenty of space for Botti to sing on the soprano and dance through the orchestrations with various shifts in tempo and mood with Ziegler's piano itself adding to the music. Much the same can be said of the performances throughout.

The music is beautiful, passionate and invigorating with the orchestrations enhancing the many delights of Botti's voice as he brings life to the rest of Piazzolla's "Los Cuarro Estaciones Porteñas," along with the beautiful melody of Juan Carlos Cobian's "Nieblas del Riachuelo," the lively "Fuga Y Misterio," with sax dancing along with Ziegler's piano, the Piazzolla composition "Oblivion," with some hauntingly beautiful saxophone, and Ziegler's own "Rojotango," with its sense of drama in the orchestration. "Sax To Tango" is a remarkable recording full of many listening delights.

I received my copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the September-October Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 368). Here is a brief video clip to promote this recording.

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