Libertango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla (Concord Jazz)

Gary Burton

Released April 4, 2000

Grammy Nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album 2001




Innovative tango composer and master bandoneon player, the late Astor Piazzolla remains the one towering artist who literallu defines an entire genre of music. Having toured and recorded with Piazzolla in the 1980s as well as recording the acclaimed Astor Piazzolla Reunion – A Tango Excursion (Concord Jazz) in the 1990s, there’s probably no one better qualified than master vibraphonist Gary Burton to continue to build on Piazzolla’s rich legacy in the new millennium. Burton does exactly that with Libertango – The Music of Astor Piazzolla, a passionate and expertly performed collection of the tango master’s music. The recording features a cast of Piazzolla alumni in new performances of pieces Piazzolla created specifically to feature his stellar musicians (including “Escualo”, written for Suarez-Paz, and “Contrabajissimo,” composed for tango bassist Console), as well as inspired new versions of some Piazzolla’s best known compositions (including “Libertango”, “Invierno Porteño” and “Adios Nonino.”)

Track Listing:

1. Libertango (Astor Piazzolla) 4:38

2. Invierno Porteño (Astor Piazzolla) 7:04

3. Escualo! (Astor Piazzolla) 3:08

4. Buenos Aires Hora Cero (Astor Piazzolla) 5:42

5. Fuga y Misterio (Astor Piazzolla) 4:17

6. Milonga del Angel (Astor Piazzolla) 6:36

7. Michelangelo (Astor Piazzolla) 4:07

8. Contrabajissimo (Astor Piazzolla) 11:07

9. Fugata (Astor Piazzolla) 4:16

11. Milonga Loca (Astor Piazzolla) 3:12

12. Adios Nonino (Astor Piazzolla) 8:37


Gary Burton: vibraphone

Horacio Malvicino: guitar

Fernando Suarez Paz: violin

Marcelo Nisinman: bandoneon

Pablo Ziegler: piano (1-4, 8, 10-12)

Nicolas Ledesma: piano (5-7, 9)

Recorded January 20 – 24, 1999, at El Pie Studio, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Producer: Marcelo Morano

Executive-Producer: Glen Barros, John Burk

Engineer: Jorge Da Silva

Mixed by Bill Scheniman

Mastered by George Horn

Cover Illustration: Stan Fellows


Subtitled The Music Of Astor Piazzolla, Gary Burton’s latest tango project underscores the role of harmony in that classic Argentine style, fusing folk and improvised music passages shoulder to shoulder. His four-mallet approach pays homage by interpreting a set of Piazzolla’s compositions alongside members of the composer-bandoneonist’s touring band. Classical timbres from violin, piano and double bass merge with that of the bandoneon, a large accordion-like instrument with a sound that blends expressive “harmonica reeds” with dramatic “organ stops.”

There’s no need for a drummer, since the tango rhythms include powerful inflections, both assertive and implied. Oftentimes the rhythmic pattern represents half a clave, and yet it’s always easily understood, romantic, and suave. Burton explains, “Tango, like jazz, brought together the considerably developed traditions of Western European music and local folk influences and evolved into a sophisticated art form requiring the highest levels of musicianship.” Piazzolla, who wrote several of the session’s pieces especially for these artists, created a tango craze outside of Argentina in the 1960s and ‘70s. The classically trained musician merged traditional tango with classical music, making the result much more popular.

Born in the early 1900s, tango comes from two words. Both tambor (drum) and tambo (dairy farm) were in the hearts and minds of early Argentine slaves and immigrants. In the same way that North American spirituals influenced the development of jazz in the U.S.A., these melancholy dance songs gained momentum by blending known elements with improvisation and a stylistic focus. Burton’s homage reminds us of the roots tango shares with jazz while expressing the genre clearly and with a fresh new slant.

Jm Santella (All About Jazz)