Julio Botti’s Pure Tango

Botti Pure Tango

PURE TANGO / MORES: Taquito Militar.6 EXPÓSITO-BLAZQUEZ: Cualguilera de Estes Noches.1,2 GARDEL: El Dia Que Me Quieras. LANFRANCO: Cuando Llueve.7 STAMPONI-CASTILLO: El Último Café.2,4 PÉREZ-MANZI: Oro Y Plata.3,5,7 COBIÁN-CADICAMO: Nostalgias.1,2 HERRERA-CASTRO: Zamba Del Chaguanco.5,7 TROLLO-LOPEZ-DeROSE-VELICH-CASTILLO: Una Canción.4 BOTTI: Recordando.6 BARDI-CARDICAMO: Nunca Tuvo Novio / Julio Botti, s-sax/t-sax; 1Valeria Martin, vln; Matias Lanfranco, pno; 2Alejandro Colombatti, bandoneon; Leonardo Petrozo Avila, 3Federico Seimandi, bs; 4María Jose Rojas, 5Silvia Lallana, voc; Gustavo Gancedo, gtr; 6Quintino Cinalli, 7Mario Gusso, perc / Zoho 202006

Julio Botti is a familiar figure in Latin jazz circles. As a rule I don’t review much Latin jazz because, to my ears, there are only three different beats and they tend to get repetitive, but the verve and tightness of this particular band, and the fact that the rhythm is the tango which is not as common nowadays as it once was, immediately attracted me.

This recording grew out of the meeting between Botti and pianist Matias Lanfranco. They played a few tunes together and instantly clicked, in particular because Lanfranco came from a more traditional tango background which appealed to Botti. In the concert they gave together Botti’s mother, who was in the last stages of cancer, was in attendance and died four months later. The saxophonist then decided that he would make a recording that featured music from that concert as a tribute to her.

Since tango is one of the most sensual pop-folk dances in the Latin world, Botti includes here a few slower numbers, five of which have vocals by either María Jose Rojas or Silvia Lallana. Interestingly, considering that the composer was the most famous tango singer of all time, Carlos Gardel’s El Dia Que Me Quieras is played as an instrumental, albeit very sensuously by Botti.

Matias Lanfranco

Matias Lanfranco

The one thing that surprised me, considering that this is Botti’s disc as leader, is how much Lanfranco is featured throughout—and, more importantly, how much of an impact he makes. His piano solos almost jump out of your speakers at you; they have a life and drive I’ve seldom if ever heard from a Latin pianist, even good ones in some very good bands. He is the glue that holds this album together.

Except for the opener, a zesty uptempo piece called Taquito Militar, much of the album features quieter tangos. Cuando Llueve is a tango in 3/4 time, yet also one of the most jazz-infused on the disc, thanks to Botti but particularly to Lanfranco, who knows how to swing in 3. One track that really jumps, in a rhythm that to my ears is tango modified by a disco beat, is Oro Y Plata. Neither of our female vocalists are really jazz singers; they sing the tunes straight and offer no improvisation, but the backup players make up for it, with Botti coming alive in Oro Y Plata to give the track a sort of Stan Getz feel.

At a time when so many “jazz” artists are churning out slow, maudlin-sounding, touchy-feely recordings, it’s actually refreshing to hear a disc like this that celebrates life instead of looking for a cave to hide in. Not every track is purely jazz—Nostalgias is predictably a tango ballad with little if any improvisation except for a few turnarounds by Botti—but the overall impact of the disc is fun and inviting. A real pick-me-up record in an era where the coronavirus, riots and murder hornets swarm around our psyches.

—© 2020 Lynn René Bayley

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Read my book, From Baroque to Bop and Beyond: An extended and detailed guide to the intersection of classical music and jazz


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