TANGO VERTICAL, the latest release of the Funky Juice label, is a sure bet, maybe a surprising squaring of the circle, and certainly the ideal meeting point for apparently distant worlds of music.
An idea of the italian composer and guitarist, Anton Giulio Priolo, takes full and felicitous shape with this disc, for which the founder of the ENSEMBLE SIDERAL has brought together renowned musicians from the worlds of jazz and classical music. In order to completely unveil his intention and understand the refined constructive composition of the CD, the complex personality of this musician needs to be explained, for not only does he plays all the guitar parts, but he is also the author of all ten pieces making up Tango Vertical, composing nine of them and arranging one (the famous Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla).During the years of his musical training, Anton Giulio Priolo alternated his work as a dedicated and passionate jazz guitarist (along with those musical styles related to it) with the study of composition that is part of the traditional programme at the Conservatoire, followed by specialization courses after graduation. However, neither predominated over the other; if anything, an osmosis occurred between the two. There exists in the DNA of this composer an instinctive idea to revolutionize, blend and experiment. As a result, his scores have won prizes at international composition competitions (in Italy, Spain and England). They have been commissioned and performed by such important orchestras and chamber music groups as the Regional Orchestra of Lazio and the London ensemble made up of musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Austin. London, furthermore, is the city that the musician chose for broadening his horizons, specializing in film scores there (and earning a Master awarded Distinction from the prestigious Royal College of Music where he was a pupil and then collaborator of the composer Dario Marianelli, who won an Oscar for the film Atonement), and working there for several years composing numerous sound tracks. Tango Vertical therefore closes that “circle” mentioned earlier, and represents an extreme synthesis of this valuable musical itinerary. The title of the CD alludes to the tango, obviously alive and present in several pieces, but it is also a pretext for flying and landing musically far beyond South America, in the vast basin of the Mediterranean that includes Spain, Portugal, Italy and the North African coasts.
The lesson of “Maestro” Astor Piazzolla (to whom homage is paid in the above-mentioned Oblivion, here in a version for a string trio and piano) finds its exact correspondent in another inspired track entitled Milonga para Elisa in which refined polyphonies of Bachian taste confront Brazilian Villa-Lobos type reminiscences. The piece that gives its name to the album is exquisitely “Argentine”, and, in line with the best tradition, the principal themes are entrusted to the accordeon and the violin. The surprise, however, is to be found in the heart of the piece when a long, beautiful piano solo, unmistakenly jazzlike in colour, takes over, supported by the strings; while the rapid rhythmic base that provides the framework for the piece is equally jazzlike in structure.
This is a CD that subverts and seduces with every new listening as it continually hovers between “cultured” music and pop: from the masterfully handled North African percussions that support the amusing
Danza del Pavo Real and accompany the virtuoso theme of the violin, to the colours of a modern flamenco barely hinted at in Flamenco Road, to the rather typical melancholy of the Portuguese Fado in the splendid El Aliento del Mar, to the warmth and virtuoso guitar of Sublime Ilusion and Rumba Escondida, and again to the cinematographic “nuance” in the piece entitled Felliniana where an explicit homage is paid to Nino Rota in the beginning. What distinguishes this CD is not the superimposition of different recognizable styles combined in scholastic fashion, but rather a new and already complete world having its own particular stylistic “cipher”, its own thread running through the entire piece. And now for the other musicians: the string quartet, the classical soul of the ensemble (at times acrobatic, at times ethereal and rarefied) includes Elisa Papandrea and Natascia Gazzana violins, Daniele Marcelli viola, and Laura Pierazzuoli cello. These four musicians can boast of respected curricula vitae having played with the most prestigious symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles, among which the Accademia Nazionale of S. Cecilia, the Quirinale, the Swiss Radio, the Covent Garden of London, the Musikverein of Vienna and the Lincoln Center of New York. Another cardinal point is the well-known jazz pianist Massimo Fedeli, who in recent years has also developed a visceral and totally personal relationship with the accordeon, an instrument that he has mastered with great skill and on which he has transferred with great naturalness his unusual talent for improvisation. Particular mention is also to be made of this instrument that was made during the ’50s and which the musician uses in the recording: its peculiar sonority unifies, as if by magic, the attack and the typical dynamics of the accordion with the sweet melancholy of the bandoneón. Its presence and magnificent solos provide the beat for numbers like Tango Vertical, the Danza del Pavo Real, Flamenco Road, Felliniana and Agua de cielo. To continue with the “black and white” keys”: the classical pianist and concert artist of international fame, Tonino Riolo, is the other irrepressible musical personality who has been called upon to participate in this project. His extraordinary gifts of touch and musical sensitivity – highly regarded and absolutely unusual – offer an intimate and precious version of Oblivion which, together with the strings, passes from moments of extreme rarefaction in the “pianissimo” to the dynamic explosions of the central part. Equally intense and appreciable in its dynamic and timbral excursions is El Aliento del Mar, another piece in which the cantabile quality and highly refined technique of the pianist find full satisfaction. The rhythmic structure is entrusted to the sure and expert hands of two old acquaintances of the label: Stefano Cesare on double bass and Gigi Zito on drums, authors and collaborators who are already present on many titles in our catalogue. Once again they show that they are great musicians apart from being reliable session men confronting one another – with their vast palette of colours and rhythms – in a repertoire that, given its originality and lacking pre-established supports, is therefore complex and heterogeneous. Last, but certainly not least, is one of the most famous Italian percussionists: Arnaldo Vacca, and it would be both useless and boring to list all his accomplishments. Suffice it to say that Arnaldo contributes his immense baggage of sounds and “essences”, at times inventing apparently impossible medleys, uncommon combinations that, when it comes to settling accounts, still bring freshness, originality and unity to the entire project