Monday, April 15, 2013

Piazzolla in New York (III): Take Me Dancing! — Discographical details

In 1959, while jazz was going through an incredibly fertile period and New York's cultural life was just mind-boggling, the grand modernizer of tango was struggling to make ends meet, and musically he wasn't really getting anywhere.

Since then, the result of his plans to mix jazz and tango have been marked as pretty much irrelevant by conventional wisdom, and with no hard data in the original album sleeve or any other published sources, there's hardly anything solid regarding the personnel and date of recording of Take Me Dancing. Who would be interested in knowing the details of a "failure", right?

Discographical research on Take Me Dancing! begins and ends with the picture below, first published in Piazzolla Loco Loco Loco (Ed. de la Urraca; Argentina, 1994), a book by Óscar López Ruiz, one of the main guitar players in Piazzolla's career. Besides the faces you can see on it, other names have been offered as present in this session, such as Tito Puente (discussed in the previous post), guitarist Barry Galbraith, and bassist George Duvivier. There's also the additional question of there being more musicians in it than can be heard on the record. A few internet searches will give out some vague results, with errors in the spelling of names and the pairings of instruments and musicians.

Sunday, April 26th, 1959?

In any case, the complete personnel is, from left to right:
Carlos Rausch, Astor Piazzolla, Danny Bank, Chet Amsterdam, Roger King Mozian, Eddie Costa (leaning on the vibraphone), Johnny Pacheco, Willie Rodríguez, and Al Caiola (click on the image to enlarge it).

Date of recording

Although in an interview with Fernando González (whose liner notes for Aslan's record have been nominated for a Grammy in 2013) Johnny Pacheco says that this record was made along several sessions at Bell Sound, Rausch is adamant that recording was done in just one (perhaps at Capitol), his only recording session in the studio with Piazzolla, for which he was late, having forgotten to move his clocks forward one hour. According to this, Take Me Dancing would have been recorded on Sunday, April 26th, 1959.

Piazzolla did record a second album in New York, which remained unissued till 1994, when it was released on CD in Japan as Evening in Buenos Aires. Rausch is sure he didn't play on that record, but Pacheco was a busy session man at the time, so it is possible that he also played on the session(s) for Evening in Buenos Aires, alto flute in that case.


Regarding the instrumentation, there's no problem with Rausch (piano), Piazzolla (bandoneon and arrangements), Amsterdam (double bass), Costa (vibes), Rodríguez (percussion and drums), and Caiola (guitar). Those instruments are present in the recording (Costa could also be on piano, but on aural evidence and according to Rausch, it seems he stuck to vibes here).

As for the rest of the musicians, Mozian was a trumpet player and percussionist; Pacheco plays flute and percussion (there's no flute here) - in the aforementioned interview with González, Pacheco told him that he played "a small güiro"; and Bank, who's identified here for the first time, was perhaps the busiest baritone sax and bass clarinet specialist in New York at the time, and he's present in more recordings than can be possibly known. Go to this previous post to see him on bass sax, with Leonard Bernstein.

However, there's no reed instrument in this record at all (neither is there in Evening in Buenos Aires, for that matter).

"La Coquette"

The Japanese reissue of Take Me Dancing (P-Vine 1066) published in 1994, included the whole LP plus an extra track, “La Coquette”, which had been originally published as side B of the single “Lullaby of Birdland”. This tune, a choro best known as Francisca "Chiquinha" Gonzaga's "Atraente", has nothing to do with the rest of the album, neither in style nor in instrumentation. Although no clean version of it has been available to us, the line-up seems to be formed by bandoneon, bass clarinet, electric guitar, xylophone, double bass, castinets, triangle, tambourine, congas or bongos.

This would justify Bank's being there, and would almost fit the personnel on the picture: Pacheco, Mozian, and Rodríguez would have played percussion, and Eddie Costa would be on xylophone, which is practically identical to the vibraphone. Still, the piano would be missing.

Rausch remembers clearly that he was late for the session because it happened right after clocks moved forward in the Spring, and he had forgotten about it: could it be that, in order to use the studio time while they waited for Rausch, the musicians in the picture recorded “La Coquette” and the picture was taken right after Rausch got there and before they started recording the actual LP?

A plausible conclusion would be (some titles are linked to YouTube),

Astor Piazzolla (ldr, bn, arr); Danny Bank (b cl); Eddie Costa (vib, xyl); Carlos Rausch (p); Al Caiola (g); Chet Amsterdam (b); Roger "King" Mozian and/or Johnny Pacheco (perc); Willie Rodríguez (perc, drums).

New York, poss. Capitol or Bell Sound Studios; Sunday, April 26th, 1959

a. La Coquette (from "Rio") (Gonzaga)
b. Triunfal (Piazzolla)
c. Counterpoint (Contratiempo) (Piazzolla)
d. Lullaby of Birdland (Shearing)
e. Show off (Para lucirse) (Piazzolla)
f. Plus ultra (Piazzolla)
g. Sophisticated lady (Ellington/Irving Mills/Mitchel Parish)
h. Dedita (Piazzolla)
i. Oscar Peterson (Piazzolla)
j. Something strange (Presentania) (Piazzolla)
k. April in Paris (Duke/Harburg/Renaud)
l. Laura (Mercer/Raksin)
m. Boricua (Piazzolla)

- All arrangements are by Piazzolla.
- Rausch out on a.
- Danny Bank present only on a.
- Eddie Costa plays xylophone on a., vibraphone on the rest.
- On h. a drum and cymbals solo is heard at the end, and on j. it sounds like someone plays brushes on a snare drum; in both cases, this is likely to be Willie Rodríguez.
- From b. to m., the tracks from the original LP, percussion comprises güiro and bongos. It appears that Pacheco played güiro and Mozian, or most probably Rodríguez, played bongos.


Endless thanks to Fernando González for sharing Johnny Pacheco's comments, and to Kenny Berger and Bill Crow for their help in confirming the identity of Bank and Amsterdam.


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