I was first introduced to the music of Astor Piazzolla on a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, back in 2005. Almost instantly, I realized that I had stumbled upon something incredibly powerful. Filled with melancholy, and while rooted firmly in the traditional Argentine tango genre, Piazzolla’s work is at the same time intensely influenced by North-American jazz and modern classical music. As with Frank Zappa, Astor Piazzolla’s music defies categorization.
Largely unknown outside Argentina, Enrique “Mono” Villegas (born 1913) is one of those jazz originals whose talent easily levels the likes of Bill Evans.
Because of his Argentine background, Columbia Records conveniently hired him in the early 50s for some Latin fused music, and he ended up producing two albums with them. The third album turned out to be a problem, mainly because Columbia insisted that he perpetuate the Latin cliché — chachacha, meringue. Enrique “Mono” refused.
While in Cleveland in 1957, he first heard the music of Duke Ellington. Villegas strongly identified and went on record to say:
We never repeat the music — even if we play the same songs. We’re convinced that jazz, as a conversation, should be spontaneous.
Just one delicious tune for your listening pleasure, entitled “Rosita”:[audio:http://www.killuglyradio.com/audio/Enrique_Mono_Villegas_Rosita.mp3]
Villegas passed away in 1986. His music lives on. If you’re interested, there are some amazing out of print vinyls available online.
Have a great weekend all.
I’m just sayin’… Adios Nonino.