PROGRAM NOTES: An Evening With Paquito D’Rivera
Concierto para Quinteto
Born March 11, 1921, Mar del Plata, Argentina
Died July 4, 1992 Buenos Aires
Around 1981, Astor Piazzolla composed this impressive piece for his own violin, bandoneón, piano, electric guitar and contrabass quintet, and later on the multi-talented porteño composer-oncologist-journalist Gabriel Senanes arranged for clarinet and string quintet as part of my 2005 Latin-Grammy® award-winning CD Riberas. – Paquito D’Rivera
Four Pieces from the South
There are only two kinds of music: good and…the other stuff – used to say the great Duke Ellington, trying to get away from the useless divisions so often applied to musical genres. Commissioned by the Library of Congress for a traditional violin-piano format, but using some elements of Be-Bop and Latin-American music, Fiddle Dreams pretends to eliminate those stylistic barriers, combining the virtuoso approach of the classical soloists with the improvisational skills and sense of swing inherent to the jazz players. – Paquito D’Rivera
Fiddle Dreams for Violin and Piano
Born June 4, 1948, Marianao, Cuba
Four Pieces from the South are the result of my passion from the huge rhythmic and melodic variety to be found in the music south of the U.S. border. In this case, using the dynamic Merengue and Joropo from Venezuela in contrast with the melancholic Argentinean slow Milonga. – Paquito D’Rivera
Born April 16, 1956, Buenos Aires
Gabriel Senanes is a composer and conductor whose works have been recorded extensively and have received numerous awards. He has written for film, TV and theater. He was awarded a Latin Grammy® for Best Classical Album in 2005 for his work with Paquito D’Rivera and Cuarteto Buenos Aires, Riberas.
Contratango is a little concert for Contrabass and String Quartet that speaks in Tango language. In Spanish, as in English, the prefix “contra” means “against”. But it doesn’t mean in this case that Contratango is against the tango, as the name of the Contrabass doesn’t mean “against the bass”. On the contrary, the piece includes many of the melodic and rhythmic characteristics and “special” effects of the Argentine Genre. Among others, the “sand paper,” “drum” and “whip” sounds, the “strapatta” percussion effect of the contrabass, and of course, the typical syncopated patterns of the tango. Similar doses of lyricism and violence make Contratango a genuine composition in favor of the tango and the bass. This piece was commissioned by and is dedicated to Pablo Aslan, and this is going to be its world première. – Pablo Aslan
Born May 5, 1962, Buenos Aires
Tangua (2016) is the first part of Tanguajira, a piece I wrote for Paquito D’Rivera and that we premièred (and recorded) together at Jazz @Lincoln Center in 2011 with an eight piece tango jazz ensemble. It works the relationship between tango and the Cuban guajira, two Afro-Latin American cousins, in rhythm and in melody. This version was arranged by Gabriel Senanes, and it allows me to improvise a musical dialogue with Paquito.
GERARDO MATOS RODRIGUEZ
Born March 28, 1897, Montevideo, Uruguay
Died April 25, 1948, Montevideo, Uruguay
Arguably the most famous tango in the world, La Cumparsita was originally written by the young Uruguayan architect and composer Gerardo Matos Rodriguez as a student march. Argentine bandleader and pianist Roberto Firpo transformed it into a tango and added a third section to create this emblematic tango. The première was in 1917, when tango was starting to abandon it’s relationship with the old habanera (tango) rhythm, and becoming a march-like rhythm more suitable to accompany the dance that taken over the world. La Cumparsita, with it’s straight quarter note melody, was the perfect embodiment of this transformation. – Pablo Aslan
Ladies in White
In the early hours of March 18, 2003, after a cruel and violent crackdown, the Cuban political police incarcerated a group of 75 independent journalists, pacific dissidents and human rights activists. They were sentenced to serve from 2 to 28 years in prison, just for the “crime” of writing, informing or even speaking their minds openly. These sad events are known as “The Cuban Black Spring”, and ever since, wearing all white clothes and carrying gladiolus flowers in their hands, in spite of the threats, beatings and harassments against them, a group of mothers, wives and sisters of these prisoners of conscience, calling themselves “Las Damas de Blanco,” or “Ladies in White,” march regularly on the streets of the city of La Habana, claiming amnesty for their unjustly incarcerated relatives.
This work, commissioned by the Graduate Center of CUNY (City University of New York), and premièred at the same spot by the author on clarinet, Alex Brown on piano and cellist Dana Leong in May of 2010, is a tribute to those brave women and their families. – Paquito D’Rivera