Composer, arranger, and pianist Emilio Solla was born and raised in Argentina, has lived and worked in cities such as Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Spain, and, in 2006, relocated to New York City. He’s has composed works for small ensembles, for symphony orchestras, and has worked with artists such as Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo O’Farrill, and Edmar Castañeda. Like many of his contemporaries, Solla’s music has been influenced by Astor Piazzaolla but his travels have added many different layers to his music. His earlier albums came out on Fresh Sound New Talent; since 2014, he’s been issuing his own recordings on his Avantango Records labels.
Solla’s latest audio adventure is the first by his 17-piece Tango Jazz Orchestra. Titled “Puertos: Music From International Waters“, the eight original compositions pay tribute to port cities around the world. They ranges from the dancing tribute to Havana, Cuba (“Sol La, al Sol” – to La Habana) to New York City (“Four For Miles“) to the suave yet exciting “Chacafrik” (in honor of Benguela, Angola). Just about all the music is built from the drums up (kudos to Ferenc Nemeth for his creative contributions) and the section arrangements really favor long passages with fine harmonies and counterpoint. Pay attention to how Solla moves the different sections through melodies; an excellent example is “Andan Luces” (to Cádiz) where the melody lines are played by the piano, reeds, and accordion. The various solos jump off from the melodies – in the middle of the piece, the rhythm section gets to shine with solos from bassist Pablo Aslan and a long one from the leader.
The lovely ballad “La Novena” (to Buenos Aires) has a gentle, swaying, tango rhythm played by the piano and bass (Nemeth is quiet the first two minutes) while the melody is shared by soprano and baritone saxophones. The flute accompaniment rises above the soloist while the horns sit below; that leads into a fine solo from Labro (on bandoneon). That track is followed by “Buenos Aires Blues” but the rocking, hard-hitting, piece is actually dedicated to New Orleans, LA. Each one of the soloists gets a different feel beneath his solo; the rhythm section is somewhat below Noah Bless’s trombone spot but picks up the intensity when trumpeter Alex Norris steps forward. After the sax section plays a boppish section, baritonist Terry Goss takes over and the music calms down. It’s Aslan’s bowed bass supporting Labro’s delightful accordion solo. Piano and drums return while Labro dances on. Nemeth takes the piece back to the intro and on to the end.
Edmar Castaneda‘s harp leads the way on “Allegrón” (to Cartagena) sharing the lead lines with the soprano saxophone of Alejandro Aviles. The harpist’s duet with Franco Pinna (bombo legüero) is highly rhythmical – note the interactions of the sections that lead the way to the splendid soprano solo.
“Puertos: Music From International Waters” shimmers with excitement, both melodic and rhythmical, as well as beauty. The songs that Emilio Solla created for the Tango Jazz Orchestra (several that have been recorded in smaller ensembles) have room for each musician to shine and for the arrangements that pique the listener’s interest and make you return time and again. Do listen and listen closely – this album is definitely worth your time!
For more information, go to www.emiliosolla.com.
Alejandro Aviles: soprano and alto saxophones, flutes;
Todd Bashore: flutes and clarinet;
Tim Armacost: tenor saxophone, alto flute and clarinet;
John Ellis: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet and flute;
Terry Goss: baritone saxophone and bass clarinet;
Alex Norris: trumpet and flugelhorn;
Jim Seeley: trumpet and flugelhorn;
Jonathan Powell: trumpet and flugelhorn;
Noah Bless: trombone;
Mike Fahie: trombone;
Eric Miller: trombone;
James Rodgers: bass trombone;
Julien Labro: bandoneon and accordion;
Emilio Solla: piano and conducting;
Pablo Aslan: bass;
Ferenc Nemeth: drums.
Samuel Torres: congas (“So La Al Sol”);
Arturo Prendez: percussion & Arturo O’Farrill: piano (“Llegara, Llegara, Llegara”);
Franco Pinna: bombo legüero & Edmar Castañeda: harp (“Allegron”).