Review by Fiona Mactaggart
This uplifting and luminescent new album from Argentinian born, Brooklyn based double bassist Pablo Aslan, is a real find.
Chock-a-block with riches, it is highly produced yet has a very personal feeling. Most tunes are newly composed by Pablo Aslan, his teacher Gabriel Senanes (who with Aslan co-producers the project) and his friends Spanish bassist Alexis Cuadrado and US pianist Roger Davidson. Together they skillfully push the envelope as to what might come under the rubric of ‘tango’.
Throughout Pablo Aslan’s double bass takes a foremost role, including taking clear lead in driving the tempo, whilst members of string Cuarteo Petrus and esteemed guests Cuban Paquito D’Rivera (clarinet) and Uruguayan bandoneonist, Raul Jaurena complete the listing of players.
Though there are no weak tracks, this reviewer relished perhaps most of all the outstanding bounty of Senanes’ concerto, “Riendo Suelto”. Opening with great drama, it switches suddenly to mellifluence, the intense lyricism and varying complex rhythms reminiscent of an old Hollywood soundtrack. It packs an enormous amount in to its 9 minute 34 seconds.
Another highlight is Davidson’s “Te Extrano Buenos Aires”. Arranged by Senanes, its gorgeous sweep of strings enhances glorious melody, whilst Cuadrado’s “Reflejos” opens hesitantly then builds over strings ostinato, his jazz background showcased against Pablo Aslan’s bass solos, and never quite throwing off an oppressive darkness.
Indeed such is the wealth of musical reference points there would be enough material for several PhDs, yet the internal consistency is such that it feels like an authentic presentation of Pablo Aslan’s maturity and wide interests over the years around tango, western classical and jazz – and an abundant demonstration of his and his friends’ evolved composition, arranging and musicianship skills.
Contrabajo is a beautiful album, played expertly and with heart. Cutting across musical labels the drama, lyricism and brio will appeal to fans of tango, western classical and jazz, and to adventuresome listeners who appreciate a highly successful mixing of these genres.