“Take Five ” — With A Pakistani Swing

The Sachal Ensemble performing at a jazz festival © Sachal Studios

Globalization has produced many stories —not all inspiring. But having a Pakistani ensemble become a worldwide sensation by playing Paul Desmond’s immortal “Take Five,” which pianist Dave Brubeck turned into a hit nearly 50 years ago, has to be one of the most delightful — and improbable.

The 10-piece Sachal Ensemble, a group from Lahore, Pakistan, became an unlikely global sensation when the video of their performance of “Take Five,” a peculiar, swinging blend of South Asian classical music and jazz, got a million hits on YouTube. In a letter quoted in a story in Esquire Middle East, Brubeck, who got to hear it before his passing in 2012, wrote to producer Izzat Majeed: “This is the most interesting and different recording of ‘Take Five’ that I’ve ever heard. … Listening to this exotic version brings back wonderful memories of Pakistan where my Quartet played in 1958. East is East, and West is West, but through music the twain meet. Congratulations!”

The album that followed it, Sachal Jazz: Interpretations of Jazz Standards & Bossa Nova, became a best seller that topped the iTunes jazz charts. That led to world tours, appearances at jazz festivals and a celebrated performance with Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center in 2013, captured in Song of Lahore, a from-Lahore-to-New York documentary film by two-time Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken.

The Sachal Ensemble is appearing at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami, Saturday. The concert opens MDC Live’s 2017-2018 season under the banner “Ojala/ Inshallah: Wishes from the Muslim World. ”

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Legacy The Music of Astor Piazzolla by Tomás Cotik and Tao Lin

 

Very happy to share the news of the release of Legacy, a new recording of music by New Tango master Astor Piazzolla interpreted by violinist Tomás Cotik and pianist Tao Lin.
The program includes classics such as “Adiós Nonino”, “Milonga del Ángel”, Piazzolla’s Four Seasons”, “Balada para un loco” and two personal favorites, “Escualo” and “Fracanapa.”
For a one-stop place for information, videos and points of sale check Naxos.

Tomás and I had collaborated on a couple of Piazzolla-related projects during his time in Miami, so when he told me about Legacy, I jumped at the opportunity to write the liner notes. Piazzolla´s story and Tomás playing are tales worth telling.
I hope the notes intrigue you into checking this recording. You will not be disappointed.

Notes for Astor Piazzolla Legacy

New Tango master Astor Piazzolla (11 March 1921–4 July 1992) packed a lot of living in his writing and his playing.

Tango is the music of Buenos Aires — but the man who would challenge so many of its traditions and clichés, and in doing so would bring it kicking and screaming into a new world, was not even a porteño, as the inhabitants of Buenos Aires are called. Astor Piazzolla was born in Mar del Plata, a resort town on the Atlantic coast of Argentina, about 250 miles south of Buenos Aires. When he was just 4, his family moved to New York’s Lower East Side, then to a tough neighborhood populated by gangsters of seemingly every denomination. He was short and walked with limp because of a birth defect, so he fought his way to respect. The other kids called him “Lefty,” acknowledging his punch.

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Honoring Paco De Lucía by keeping his sound alive

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From left to right, Israel Suárez “Piraña,” percussion; Alain Pérez, bass; Antonio Sánchez, guitar; Antonio Serrano, harmonica; David De Jacoba, cante, and Farru, dancer. Photo by Luis Malibran

There are few artists who have had the impact in their disciplines that guitarist Paco De Lucía had in flamenco. There is a before-and-after De Lucía in flamenco. He expanded the harmonic vocabulary and guitar techniques, incorporated instruments from outside the tradition, and had a curiosity that led him to collaborations with artists as disparate as jazz guitarist John McLaughlin and Brazilian pop star Djavan and also opened new vistas to flamenco artists.

He also worked with unorthodox (for flamenco) ensembles, most notably his revolutionary sextet, which included sax, electric bass and cajón, in the 1980s and ‘90s and then later, for 10 years, until his passing in February 2014, his septet.

This remarkable group has been re-assembled by producer Javier Limón, a long-time friend and collaborator of De Lucía, and will be performing a tribute at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami this Sunday, presented by The Rhythm Foundation.

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