A heatwave all the way from Buenos Aires hits Montreal this week as the city’s winter festival of lights, Montréal en Lumière, welcomes jazz-tango musician Daniel Piazzolla, grandson of the “king of tango” Astor Piazzolla, and more music, dancing and food from Argentina…
“Tango is the music of my city, a way to live,” says drummer Daniel “Pipi” Piazzolla. “In our country family and romance is very important, and tango is always talking about these kinds of things.” Along with being one of the festival’s honorary presidents this year, Piazzolla will play a tribute show to his grandfather with his band Escalandrum.
The March 2 show, Piazzolla Plays Piazzolla, has already travelled the world, blending tango and jazz musical styles: “I feel much closer to the tango of my grandfather rather than the traditional tango,” says Piazzolla. “I was born in the modern city of Buenos Aires, but my music reflects the music of my grandfather. He knew the roots of tango, he knew everything about tango – the first gig he played was with Carlos Gardel in New York, he played with the best tango band in Argentina in the 1950s, he had a background in jazz and classical and then started to mix these influences in his music – he invented styles of modern tango.”
Daniel Piazzolla mixes musical styles too, taking inspiration from his grandfather and adding his own elements: “I play contemporary jazz, but I also play the music of my grandfather, music that has had an influence all around the world.” Astor Piazzolla is a household name in Argentina, throughout South America and Europe for his “nuevo tango,” but while tango enthusiasts in North America are well acquainted with his music, the general population might not know how much it has seeped into popular culture as a musical influence on jazz and pop and through films such as 12 Monkeys, which makes heavy use of his Suite Punta del Este.
When it comes to dancing, Daniel Piazzolla and his sextet’s music isn’t necessarily meant for formal tango – dancers in Montreal this week will want to go to the La Pista Tango cabaret and milonga for that – but Piazzolla says people find inventive ways to dance along: “I’m not a dancer, but I see when people dance to my grandfather’s music that they’re mixing traditional, classical and contemporary like he did…. When we play, we never want to lose the soul of the music of my grandfather – we play to maintain that soul and the respect for the music.”
Piazzolla Plays Piazzolla at L’Astral, March 2, 2013