Sunday Big Note — Listening Session #20

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.

But don’t take my word for it. To follow are some of my favorite Piazzolla tracks. There are close to no Piazzolla “field recordings”, so the tracks you’re about to hear have admittedly been culled from a variety of official releases.

Primavera Porteña
[audio:SBN_20110327_01 Primavera portena.mp3]

Divertimento 9
[audio:SBN_20110327_02 Divertimento 9.mp3]

En Las Sombras
[audio:SBN_20110327_03 En las sombras.mp3]

Loca Bohemia
[audio:SBN_20110327_04 Loca Bohemia.mp3]

Buenos Aires Hora Cero
[audio:SBN_20110327_05 Buenos Aires Hora Cero.mp3]

Verano Porteño
[audio:SBN_20110327_06 Verano Porteno.mp3]

Fuga 9
[audio:SBN_20110327_07 Fuga 9.mp3]

Deus Xango
[audio:SBN_20110327_08 Deus Xango.mp3]

Aire de Buenos Aires
[audio:SBN_20110327_09 Aire De Buenos Aires.mp3]

Mi Refugio
[audio:SBN_20110327_10 Mi refugio.mp3]

If you liked anything of what you just heard, may I suggest you have a look at what the iTunes store has to offer. Also be sure to check out the official Piazzolla homepage.

5 thoughts on “Sunday Big Note — Listening Session #20”

  1. Nice post. Thanks. I’ve been fascinated with Piazzolla’s music for many years. In my analysis there are three 20th century composers with similar characteristics: Piazzolla, Mingus and Zappa. Of course their actual music couldn’t be more different. But all three thought of themselves as serious composers although they didn’t get much credit from the establishment. All three were players who led their own ensembles for many years. That’s where they were able to shape their best music and where they made many recordings. And all three wanted opportunities to write for orchestral ensembles but not many chances came along.

  2. [quote comment=”27459″]All three were players who led their own ensembles for many years.[/quote]
    Yes, David, that’s a main and important similarity to me, too! Composers playing an instrument, playing in their own ensemles – I wish more composres like this would be (btw I saw Steve Reich on stage too, playing a part of “Drumming” a few years ago)

  3. Guitarist Al Di Meola is very influenced by Piazzolla. His original “World Sinfonia” group, with contemporary bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi and percussionist Arto Tuncboyacian, was built around Piazzolla compositions. Check out the original “World Sinfonia” recording, and also “Live in London”. Also “Di Meola Plays Piazzolla”. There are other “World Sinfonia” recordings, including a brand new one. Still good, but not Piazzolla focused.

  4. I’ve commented on the links between FZ and AP music on this very site, three years ago ( This time I’d like to add, FWIW, that last month I did an interview (on ocassion of what would have been AP’s 90th birthday) with Pablo Ziegler, pianist of Piazzolla’s last quintet (1978-88). I asked him if Astor liked FZ’s music and his answer was “Of course!”

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