The country that produces pianists of the genius of Martha Argerich might never produce anyone like her, but has also bred other musicians—and indeed, pianists—of considerable talent for composition, technique and creativity. One of these is the pianist behind some of the greatest groups of Astor Piazzolla: Pablo Ziegler.
Now a solo artist, Mr. Ziegler may never be compared to Ms. Argerich who is a legend in the whole world of music. However, while Mr. Ziegler is not nearly reached that stellar stature, he certainly stakes his claim to being one of the finest pianists that Argentina has produced in the world of Nuevo tango and very likely in jazz as well—the two worlds he bestrides like a proverbial colossus, criss-crossing those two world with a stunning promethean presence as he voices music that is rich in the metaphor of both musical languages. His is a singular voice, but Mr. Ziegler appears to have been shaped equally by Aquiles Delle Vigne as well as Thelonious Monk. Each musician has bestowed upon him a very special aspect. From Mr. Monk he gets the unique characteristic of stabbing at notes with sharp, percussive effect that sometimes gives the impression that he treats the ivories as cymbals, which in turn, enables Mr. Ziegler to obtain a radiant, metallic sound. From Mr. Delle Vigne, Mr. Ziegler long-since absorbed a certain gentility, which over a period of time—and with the persistent kneading of Mr. Piazzolla—he has made his own, using a kind of diaphanous approach as if conducting rather than playing notes and phrases, in the grand manner.
Mr. Ziegler is also a born leader and was so right through his employ with Astor Piazzolla. His leadership extends not only in the field of composition, but also arrangements and orchestrations and this is eminently clear from his masterly record, Amsterdam Meets New Tango. Here, song after song is arranged performed as if created to come to life on the epic topography of an ocean of music. And it is here that the pianist sallies forth as if undertaking an exciting odyssey rather than merely playing a song, which is after all what the music is. However, the enormous orchestra with twenty-six strings, a total of seventeen brass, reeds and woodwinds, a three-man percussion section, and a rhythm section anchored by an electric bass and augmented by a harpist. Yet, despite the density of the orchestrations, soloists shine; chief among them is Mr. Ziegler, who leads the charge with his characteristic percussive, yet always expansive turn of phrase. His lines are expressed in gorgeously Florentine, almost baroque and contrapuntal exchanges woven into the delightful exploits of bandoneón player Walter Castro. So beautiful and intimate is the exchanges between the two that it might suggest that Mr. Ziegler and Mr. Castro are co-conspirators in some passionate and epic opera.
The action seems to move from Buenos Aires, in a slightly dark and forbidding chart: “Buenos Aires Report”. This song suggests that something awful is about to happen, in literally ends in a clash of cymbals, roar of drums and a great up-swell of brass, reeds and woodwinds, which are mightily bolstered by the very large ensemble of strings. The dramatis personae includes not only Mr. Ziegler and Mr. Castro, but also the magnificent guitarist, Quique Sinesi, who often tempers the musical rumble with soft chiffon-like notes on his classical guitar that are laid askance from the bandoneón and separated by smashing cymbals rattling drums as well as delicately played percussion played by Quintino Cinalli. Meanwhile the action, which appears to be set in a carnival of sorts, pauses to pay tribute to one of the great musicians of South America—the man they call the sorcerer—Hermeto Pascoal in a dancing, prancing “Milonga Para Hermeto,” the only composition by the guitarist on this date: Mr. Sinesi. This is only a detour made is if to create a sub-plot designed to thicken the proverbial musical plot. This thought is borne out by the ominous “Blues Porteno,” which in turn provides the secret opportunity for the players to shimmy into the nerve-wracking and dizzying poly-rhythms of “Desperate Dance”. And despite the further transgressions into happy or sad territory through the musical scores of “Murga Del Amenecer,” “Places” with its theatrical twists and turns; a chance encounter with winged acolytes and other creatures from a veritable bestiary, the music returns to the forbidding crepuscular sojourn in “Buenos Aires Dark,” before exploding with heroic Grecian catharsis in “Que Lo Pario”.
It bears mention that the ingenuity of the musicians from the Metropole Orkest has a considerable effect on the outcome of this record. Trumpet and trombone soli are played with perfect pitch and also add to the drama of the secret narrative. Moreover, the celebrated orchestra appears to understand the rhythmic accents of New Tango with native spirit and soul. Much of this has to do with Pablo Ziegler’s coaching and rehearsing. But playing under the expert baton of Jules Buckley, the talented musicians of the Metropole Orkest shine like jewels in the necklace that is the narrative of Amsterdam Meets New Tango.
Track Listing: Buenos Aires Report; Milonga Para Hermeto; Blues Porteño; Desperate Dance; Murga Del Amanecer; Places; Pájaro Angel; Buenos Aires Dark; Que Lo Parió.
Personnel: Pablo Ziegler: piano; Quique Sinesi: guitar; Walter Castro: bandoneón: Quintino Cinalli: percussion, cajón. Metropole Orkest: Vera Laporeva: violin, Denis Koenders: violin; David Peijnenborgh: violin; Pauline Terlouw: violin; Doesjka de Leu: violin; Ruben Margarita: violin; Seija Teewen: violin; Laurie Vreeken-Bos: violin; Merijn Rombout: violin; Herman van Haaren: violin; Wim Kok: violin; Elizabeth Liefkes-Cats: violin; Marianne van den Heuvel: violin; Vera van der Bie: violin; Erik Kromhout: violin; Mieke Honingh: viola; Norman Jansen: viola; Julia Jowett: viola; Iris Schut: viola; Isabella Petersen: viola; Bastiaan van der Werf: cello; Emile Visser: cello; Wim Grin: cello; Jascha Albracht: cello; Arend Liefkes: bass; Peter Baas: bass; Janine Abbas: flute; Mariel van den Bos: flute; Martin de Ruiter: oboe; Marc Scholten: saxophone, clarinet; Paul van der Feen: saxophone, clarinet; Jos Beeren: saxophone, flute; Werner Janssen: saxophone, clarinet; Katharina Thomsen: saxophone, clarinet; Pieter Hunfeld: horn; Henk Heijink: trumpet; Ruud Breuls: trumpet; Martijn de Laat: trumpet; Tobias Weidinger: trumpet; Jan Oosting: trombone, Jan Bastiani: trombone; Iija Reijngoud: trombone; Martin van den Berg: trombone; Eddy Koopman: percussion; Frank Wardenier: percussion; Joke Schonewille: harp; Aram Kersbergen: electric bass; Arno van Nieuwenhuize: drums; Jules Buckley: conductor.
Pablo Ziegler on the web: pabloziegler.com
Label: Zoho Music | Release date: July 2013
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama