12 O'Clock Track: 'Minguito,' sophisticated tango nuevo from Julien Labro and Spektral Quartet | Bleader

12 O'Clock Track: 'Minguito,' sophisticated tango nuevo from Julien Labro and Spektral Quartet

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Two years ago Chicago's Spektral Quartet were paired with the French accordionist/bandoneon master Julien Labro for a performance at Northwestern University, part of a concert called the Big Squeeze that explored various incarnations and traditions of the squeezebox. Labro and the group hit it off and decided to extend their collaboration, which has proven fruitful. Tonight they perform together at City Winery to celebrate the forthcoming release of their strong new album, From This Point Forward (Azica), a dynamic portrait of where tango nuevo music has gone in the wake of the great Astor Piazzolla. The record closes with Piazzolla's "Milongo Loca," but the nine tracks that come before that lay out a very exciting musical landscape, with a varied assortment of interpretations and visions for the modern art music of Argentina, as well as pieces that carve out altogether new territory, whether music by Brazilian polymath Hermeto Pascoal or the dynamic Puerto Rican jazz saxophonist Miguel Zenon—who plays on his composition "El Club de la Serpiente." Labro is conversant with many squeezebox traditions, including the jazz manouche pioneered by fellow Frenchman Django Reinhardt—a style he practices in the Hot Club of Detroit—and while Spektral have earned a deserved reputation as peerless exponents of contemporary classical music, they also demonstrate an impressive flexibility. For today's 12 O'Clock Track you can check out "Minguito," a piece composed by the Argentinean bandoneon player, composer, and improviser Dino Saluzzi—depending on your sensibility you may cringe or laugh when Labro inserts a quote from the Average White Band hit "Pick up the Pieces" in the middle of his solo—but either way, don't let the move distract you. It's a superb collaboration all the way through.

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