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Carlos Franzetti: In the Key of Tango

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Carlos Franzetti - In the Key of Tango

Of the handful of recordings featuring the music of the tango, fewer still occupy rather prominent places in the mind’s mind: the pianist, Amy Briggs’ thoroughly modern Tangos for Piano (Ravello, 2010), Paquito D’Rivera’s swinging Tango Jazz (Sunnyside Records, 2010), Pablo Aslan’s stately Tango Grill (Zoho Music, 2010) and Pablo Zeigler’s new take on the traditional tango, a recording with the Metropole Orkest, Amsterdam meets New Tango (Zoho Music, 2013). Now, this rather slim list must include a recording by one of the most tirelessly passionate champions of this dramatic music and dance: Carlos Franzetti. The recording is entitled In the Key of Tango. Something unique about this recording suggests that it will be held in high esteem for a long time to come. The reason: it is unrivalled in technical skill and an almost obsessively zealous of the enduring art of the tango, so much so that its protagonist, the ineffable Mr. Franzetti has “created” a special key all its own in which to describe and bring forth the dramaturgy of tango. This is important as more and more, artists are gravitating towards the southern part of the American continent to find rhythms and idioms to resuscitate their slumbering art. The “tango,” like bossa nova and son montuno, has become easy prey to the charms of some musicians.

But Carlos Franzetti is special; a pianist and most of all a musician who lives and breathes the tango as if it was soul food and has mastered it—like Mr. Aslan and Mr. Zeigler—as only someone whose heart maps the cultural topography of Buenos Aires can master the sensuous passion of the tango. Mr. Franzetti says that something almost magical happened to him when he visited the barrios of Buenos Aires recently, ostensibly in preparation for this recording. Listeners are privy to that mystical energy that was translated from the magic that ensued. Mr. Franzetti’s tangos are played with a breathtaking desire to get to the absolute essence of the drama that exists between the characters in the music/dance; in this case it is two imaginary dancers (not at all hard to imagine when Carlos Franzetti plays these tangos) sweeping across the waxes wooded floor. They cast fleeting glances and look deep into the others’ eyes; then look away and they make statuesque pirouettes as they gracefully traverse the breadth of the dance-floor telling stories of sensuous joy and abject melancholia. All of this happens as if by magic, when Carlos Franzetti lets his authoritative fingers hypnotize the keyboard of the grand piano.

Playing the tango—or any music derived from a storied dance routine requires giving up the whole body and the whole soul. Few artists have the ability to do this. Mr. Franzetti is able to give everything precisely because he is made almost completely of music. This cannot be said of many artists. But musical DNA is at the core of Carlos Franzetti’s very being. How else could he perform such a sublimely dolorous version of Carlos Gardel’s “Soledad,” an elementally beautiful and sad “Adios Nonino,” the grandeur of which recalls to mind the best triumphant feelings experienced in music? And who else could sustain such spectacular and lofty emotions throughout the session? Mr. Franzetti’s record In the Key of Tango is headed for greater things than might be unfolding at the moment, as is the pianist who continues to serve up spectacular music each time he sits down to play.

Track List: Soledad; Danzarin; A Don Agustin Bardi; Tango Fatal; Boedo; Responso; Maria; Vida Mia; Nada; Adios Nonino; Los Mareados; Revirado; Naranjo en Flor; El Choclo; Nunca Tuvo Novio.

Personnel: Carlos Franzetti: piano

Label: Sunnyside Records | Release date: April 2014

Website: carlosfranzetti.com | Buy music on: amazon

About Carlos Franzetti

From symphonies to big band jazz, from chamber works to Latin American music and film scores – Carlos Franzetti has no limits. He is a 2007 Latin Grammy® Nominee in the category of Best Instrumental Album, a 2006 Grammy® Nominee in the category of Best Classical Contemporary Composition for his opera, “Corpus Evita,” a double 2003 Grammy® Nominee for “Poeta de Arrabal,” in the categories of Best Classical Crossover Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement, and the winner of the 2001 Latin Grammy® Award for Best Tango Album, “Tango Fatal.” Read more…

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.

By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.

Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.

From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.

Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.

It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.

Deo gratis…

Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz

Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums [9]

Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues

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