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Tag: maria cangiano

Spellbinding Singer Maria Cangiano’s New Album Rescues Undiscovered Piazzolla Treasures From Obscurity

Maria Cangiano and Astor Piazzolla share Italian heritage as well as passion for taking tango to new and transcendent places. She takes the title of her new album, Renacere – streaming at Spotify – from the lyrics from Piazzolla’s Prelude For the Year 3001. Which makes sense – Piazzolla was always shifting the paradigm, blending jazz, classical and a long list of other influences into tango, and Cangiano does the same here. Along with material that’s easy to pigeonhole as nuevo tango, there’s also Cuban-flavored danzon, rhumba, candombe and several detours into jazz and even 90s pop at the end. The songs’ and instrumentals’ new arrangements, by pianist Miguel Pereiro and guitarist Hernán Reinaudo, do justice to Piazzolla’s dedication to the cutting edge.

The tracklist mirrors Piazzolla’s career trajectory, from sideman in Anibal Troilo’s orchestra, to Europe and New York, then back to Argentina where he distilled everything he’d absorbed in his travels. The album opens with an especially jazz-flavored take of Llueve Sobre Broadway, alto saxophonist Bernardo Monk’s contemplative lines over Pereiro’s incisive chording and scurrying phrases. Fabián Bertero’s tensely vibrato-infused violin dances over similarly incisive, flashy piano in Milonga de la Anunciación.

Cangiano’s wide-angle vibrato maxes out the drama in Pequeña Canción Para Matilde, a rumba spiced with the nimble flamenco touches of Quique Sinesi’s guitar. Bertero’s violin again takes centerstage in Fugitiva, with a long, high-lonesome solo to kick it off. Llanto Negro, a candombe number that’s been a highlight of Cangiano’s live show for years, opens with some irresisitibly fun echo effects and tiptoes along on the misterioso pulse of bassist Nicolás Zacarías and percussionist Quintino Cinalli.

A spare, plaintive piano intro, Cangiano’s similarly poignant vocals and Snesi’s elegant fingerpicking follow in Aire de la Zamba Niña. Preludio Para el Eño 3001 features Piazzolla’s grandson Pipi on percussion, Pereiro artfully switching up the syncopation, edging between postbop jazz and Debussy-esque glimmer through a series of playful trick endings. Sinesi’s muted, pensive picking makes an apt introduction to Graciela Oscura; Pereiro’s somberly flickering piano is the album’s musical high point.

Los Amores de Noviembre slinks along with a tropical danzon groove, Pereiro’s incisive phrasing pushing it further toward jazz. His spacious, noir intro to a dynamic, nocturnal take of Vamos Nina builds a lingering intensity, up to a pulsing series of peaks in tandem with Roberto Amerise’s bass.

Monk’s meticulously flurrying. spiraling sax returns in Greenwich; Cangiano’s forlorn, tortured melismas will give you chills. The album ends with Piazzolla’s big enchilada, Libertango, Julián Vat’s flute weaving in and out until Pipi Piazzolla takes it into trip-hop territory. As rich and evocative as the playing on this album is, it would be even more of a treat to hear more of Cangiano’s otherworldly, evocative voice: here, she’s sort of the Carol Lipnik of nuevo tango.

Diverse, Thoughtful Pan-American Sounds from Maria Cangiano

Eclectic Argentinian-Italian chanteuse Maria Cangiano has established herself as a brilliant interpreter of the Piazzolla songbook, most notably on her 2010 debut album Ballads for My Life and Death: Tribute to Piazzolla. But she’s also a strong songwriter in her own right. On her new album Heart of a Woman/Corazon De Mujer, she’s teamed up with two similarly eclectic and virtuosic musicians, Argentinian guitarist Quique Sinesi and percussionist Quintino Cinalli for a collection of songs that sound vastly more lush and dynamically charged than you would expect from an acoustic trio. Cangiano is an expressive singer with extraordinary range and power: you wouldn’t expect a contralto to be able to deliver such stinging high notes. But she’s not just about power, she’s about nuance, which pretty much defines the camaraderie between the musicians here.

Some of these songs feature Cangiano’s own lyrics; others set text by Alfonsina Storni, Gabriela Mistral or Maria Fernanda Hubeaut to intricately rhythmic arrangements. Although Cangiano’s background is classic tango, she ventures far afield of that style here: the tropical lilt of many of the melodies contrasts with the stately intensity of the lyrics. The opening track, Dolor (Pain), utilizing a Storni poem, is characteristic. It’s an altered zamba (a melancholic Argentinian plains style), harplike layers of guitar, waterdroplet percussion and Cangiano’s vocals blending for a memorable bittersweetness.

Frase (Phrase), also with a Storni lyric, is one of the more unabashedly intense numbers, blending elements of flamenco, gypsy music and what could be an ancient British folk tune behind Cangiano’s pleading, arioso delivery. The catchiest track here is Mi Voz (My Voice), a dark waltz anchored by hypnotic tabla, with a long, soaring vocalese interlude. Resistencia, utilizing a lyric by Hubeaut, is more pensive, with both Brazilian and Mexican folk tinges, while the most lighthearted song here, La Gracia (a Mistral poem) sets carefree vocals over carnaval-esque percussion.

The title track is a tango at heart, with samba overtones, a philosophical inquiry that gives Cangiano a chance to air out her low registers. She follows that with Riqueza (Richness), whose Mistral lyrics get an understatedly bitter delivery. Another Hubeaut poem, Soy un Ser Feliz (I’m a Happy Soul) becomes a clinic in subtle sarcasm but ends with a jaunty whoop, a trajectory that Cangiano follows somewhat similarly on the closing cut, Queja (Complaint), a reggae-tinged Storni ballad told from the point of view of a woman who simply won’t settle for less. For fans of Cangiano’s previous work, there’s also a rich, bandoneon-spiced version of Piazzolla’s No Quiero Otro (I Wouldn’t Want Anything Else), Cangiano elegantly leading the long crescendo out. While this album was obviously recorded for a Spanish-speaking audience, Cangiano’s graceful phrasing draws the listener in, regardless if your first language is Spanish or not: this will resonate with pretty much anyone in the mood for something intelligent and emotionally compelling.