Of all the magnificent aspects of The Tango, perhaps the most beguiling is its musicality. For instance, tango dancing has a unique freedom of musical interpretation. Unlike all other partner dances, tango does not have a set basic rhythmical pattern. Even what is known as the “basic step” can be done in different ways, rhythmically.
This feature of tango at once makes the dancer’s relationship with the music more challenging, but also more exciting. The main challenge in musicality is to be able to interact with the sophisticated patterns—phrases, accents, and silences—in tango music. All of this is utterly necessary to appreciating Mark Weinstein’s record, Todo Corazón, for what would tango music be without the Milonga and what is Mark Weinstein’s record but beautiful challenge to imagine that spectral Milonga that unfolds as Mr. Weinstein’s music tumbles down like a pulsating river in spate around the imaginary couple walking rhythmically and pirouetting to the unique rhythmic invitation of Mr. Weinstein’s flutes, the guitar of Francisco Navarro, the inimitable pianism of Abel Rogantini and the glorious, mesmerising bass of Pablo Aslan?
The unique existentialism of the tango narrative unfolds with singular beauty from Mr. Weinstein’s lips as he sings his notes that form phrases of utter beauty from song to song. Here is a program that comprises classic tangos from the pens of such masters as Vincente Greco, the legendary guitar master J. C. Cobian and the bandoneón maestro credited with the birth of Nuevo Tango, Astor Piazzolla himself. Mr. Weinstein has chosen his program wisely. Moreover, he has revitalized these masterful compositions by bringing his unique interpretation to all of the music. This is because Mr. Weinstein is a remarkable musician; completely self-taught, unconstrained by the rigorous demands of a classically trained musician, yet with technique equal to or perhaps even surpassing many of those rare birds.
Using his distinctive approach to breathing Mr. Weinstein has always brought a sensuous character to the flute. It is almost as if the linear stick-like instrument, in his hands, assumes the sensuous curves of a woman. Imagining this Mr. Weinstein seems to caress the notes from his instrument. In return his flutes become his dancing partners in this unique Milonga. And so as the notes emerge, Mr. Weinstein and his now animate partner weave music as the tango is improvised—gliding along a waxed floor turning their relationship into a stately walk on an Argentinean street; on “La Viruta” for instance. Some lines are brooding, almost melancholic as in “Mi Refugio” and “Nostalgias”; others have the exquisite rhythm of a flibbity-gibbet, skittering across the Milonga stage like “Todo Corazón” and the glassy beauty of “Cristal” takes the music into a truly spectral realm recalling all of the magic and mysticism of classic tango music. Mr. Weinstein’s finest work comes, of course, on the bass flute, which creates a wondrous palette of rich colours that spread like wet paint on his glorious musical canvas.
None of the music would be complete without the magical playing of the musicians on this date. Pablo Aslan is utterly brilliant on his bass, presiding over the music with near papal majesty. Abel Rogantini is Mr. Aslan’s veritable doppelgänger and his pianism is dreamy, inventive and absolutely pure as it rings out with the rich pathos of the tango. Raul Jaurena’s playing shows off his distinctive character. Mr. Jaurena is animated, almost vocal and when he plays even brief solos, he comes across as a singer vocalizing an operatic aria. And, of course, none of the music would be the same without the magisterium of Francisco Navarro’s guitar as he weeps and wails with the colours of abject sadness and pure joy that reflects the unique beauty of this music.
This record could well be Mr. Weinstein’s finest work in a long time; at least his finest work since that ground-breaking record, Tales from the Earth (Ota Records, 2009). But then something else sets this session apart: it is the exceptional nature of music that pivots on set pieces and unbridled improvisations. It is true proof of the ecstatic interaction of an artist with a truly great art: that of the internationally beloved tango.
Track Listing: La Viruta; Los Mareados; Mi Refugio; Onda Nueve; Cristal; Nostalgias; Todo Corazón; Grisel; El Llorón.
Personnel: Mark Weinstein: concert, alto and bass flutes; Abel Rogantini: piano; Raul Jaurena: bandoneón; Francisco Navarro: guitar; Pablo Aslan: bass.
Mark Weinstein on the web: jazzfluteweinstein.com
Label: Jazzheads | Release date: February 2013
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama