Astor Piazzolla was born in Argentina in 1921. He is often credited as the creator of modern Tango, through his Nuevo (meaning new) tango style. Piazzolla brought Tango out of stagnation and popularised the genre through fusion with other musical styles. The Argentinian composer was a world-class musician, inventor, renegade, and arguably the person that did more for Tango’s worldwide popularity than anyone, except maybe Carlos Gardel. Piazzolla brought Tango out of stagnation and popularised the genre through fusion with other musical styles. The Argentinian composer was a world-class musician, inventor, renegade, and arguably the person that did more for Tango’s worldwide popularity than anyone, except maybe Carlos Gardel.
Back in the 60s and 70s when Piazzolla was writing compositions based on his vision of Tango, he was viewed as a rebel. The purists were not happy with the popularity of his Tango-Jazz and Electronic Tango. Like many innovators the mainstream saw him as an eccentric. “Piazzolla is not Tango” is the phrase that his detractors used to deride his achievements. But Piazzolla was immune to the insults. He believed in his music. He was a true pioneer in his own style and became an icon by sticking to his beliefs.
There are some hugely popular artists that many of us know and love who consider Piazzolla a major influence in their musical lives. Some of these musicians have covered the great man’s work. Al Di Meola, Yo Yo Ma, Kronos Quartet, Arthur Moreira Lima, Gidon Kremer, and others have all paid homage to Piazzolla (see examples below).
Piazzolla blended classical, jazz, electronic experimental, and Rock with Tango to create one of the most powerful voices in music. His globe-trotting lead him to extended stays in Paris, New York, and Italy (where he recorded arguably his most famous piece Libertango). Piazzolla wrote for orchestra, film, and quartets, played Bandoneon (a type of accordion, but with a sweeter sound), piano and violin. Esquire magazine called him the ‘One-man Pink Floyd of Nuevo tango’. One of the most creative musical forces in any genre left a legacy of over 1000 works which continue to inspire musicians in almost every style of music today.
Yo Yo Ma – Libertango (live)
With Kronos Quartet
Al Di Meola cover of Oblivion
Probably one of the more bizarre ‘covers’ of a Piazzolla song. Grace Jones – I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)
Michel Camilo e Tomatito – Libertango
KOOP feat. Astor Piazzolla – Vuelvo Al Sur.
and finally Piazzolla with Conjunto Electronic