Avant-Gardist Makes the Most of Eclecticism, Passion, and Restraint

Tango is Ted Nash's reference point.
photo: Jimmy Katz
Tango is Ted Nash's reference point.

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Ted Nash & Odeon
La Espada de la Noche
Palmetto

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Every record collection should include at least one version of "Tico Tico," and have I got a goodie for you—ripping, dramatic, and only slightly ironic, which also describes everything else on saxophonist Ted Nash's new tango album. Granted, Nash and Odeon (Bill Schimmel, accordion; Nathalie Bonin, violin; Matt Wilson, drums; and Clay Gayton doubling on tuba and trombone) also cover "A Night in Tunisia" and Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (the allegro movement as well as the adagio popularized by Miles and Gil), and Nash's three originals never stay in one tempo for very long. But tango is the reference point here, and its appeal to Nash seems to be its counterpoint of passion and restraint. The covers are better than faithful: Nash relocates the dissonance in Gillespie and the Debussy in Rodrigo. And the originals match them in color and detail, especially the aching and endlessly accelerating title track. Although Nash, a member of both the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the more vanguard Jazz Composers Collective, is the most compelling soloist—bracingly melodic while keenly aware of harmonic possibilities—the ensembles owe their authenticity and much of their zest to Schimmel, whose 1970s Tango Project albums ultimately led some of us to Astor Piazzolla. It's all so thrilling I only wish the closing "Walk This Way" was an Aerosmith cover.

 
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