Emilio Solla, Pablo Aslan & Raul Jaurena
A powerful mixture of tangos for the dance floor, dished out by four masters under the direction of a Grammy nominated composer and arranger.
“This album is my tribute to the tango,” says Emilio Solla, composer, bandleader, and pianist. Given that he performs a tango gig every Sunday night at a New York City jazz club, it made sense for him to pay homage to this style. “It was time for me to rediscover why I fell in love with this music in the first place.” And so in composing and adapting these eleven tracks, he went back to the roots of the tango tradition.
“And what a storied tradition it has,” says Pablo Aslan, bassist and tango cognoscenti. Born at the end of the nineteenth century on the shores of the Rio de la Plata, as a dance of suggestive yet restrained movement, it was founded upon the rhythms of the Cuban habanera, Brazilian and Spanish tango, Argentine milonga and the Afro-American candombe. First performed by the immigrants at the cafes of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the tango gained prominence as conservatory-trained musicians added it to their repertoire, as it became an international rage in the 1920s. Then again in the 1940s, the tango experienced a second Golden Age, as it was performed across many different countries. That the tango has been adapted into various forms was grist for Solla to put his own stamp on this music. To be sure, he listened to the works of the tango masters Osvaldo Pugliese, Juan D’Arienzo, and Astor Piazzolla. “But I wanted to color the music with more harmonies while also keeping it danceable,” he explains.
“More harmonies” is an understatement. Tributango is the creation of a genius composer who imbues each track with a full range of sonic material: vivid melody, thoughtful development, contrasting accompaniment, searing solos, and yes “more harmonies.” This is to be expected of Solla, who left Argentina for Barcelona in his early 30s in search of “new horizons and bigger challenges,” as he puts it. He eventually moved to New York, where he has lived for ten years, and where he has become a cornerstone of the jazz scene -- and one of the best composers of our time. Solla wanted to see if he could make it with the big guys, and in so doing, he became one himself.
In creating this album, Solla called upon three other big guys: Pablo Aslan, bass; Raul Jaurena, bandoneon; and Nick Danielson, violin. If they were a football team, they would be called the “tango all-stars,” as they are all “experts of the craft,” according to Solla. He considers Aslan as his primary mentor, who first invited Solla to the United States to perform. Danielson is a virtuosic violinist who has deep experience with both classical and tango music. Jaurena hails from Uruguay and started playing professionally when he was sixteen, and has performed with the great tango maestros like Piazolla. “When Raul plays a tango, it’s like okay, guys, that’s it. This is how it should be played,” says Solla.
Tributango is Solla’s ninth release as a bandleader. And it’s more than a tribute. It’s a triumph of an artistic mastermind, who has given us something new, by channeling the giants of this art form. However, Solla has rendered this music not just for aficionados but DJs and dancers too. These tracks will compel you onto the dance floor. This is quintessential Solla: accessible tunes with refined arrangements. Tributango is both historical and fresh, bittersweet with nostalgic references yet thought-provoking with modern touches. No matter its era, tango goes on, well into the night. Kabir Sehgal Executive Producer & Producer New York, November 2016