This release features the original tangos of composer-pianist Roger Davidson. He performs them in duos with Raúl Jaurena, one of the world's finest bandoneon players. (The bandoneon, adopted with passion by Argentina, is most closely related to the concertina. They are both smaller than an accordion, but similar to that instrument in mechanics and sound.) The music is heavily influenced by the new-tango style of the great Argentinean composer Astor Piazzola. It isn't jazz as most people think of it, but Piazzola encouraged improvisation and often performed with well-known jazz artists.
Davidson's tangos are usually in a slow-to-medium tempo. The melodies are memorably warm and beautiful paeans to love and life. (It's impossible to say that without sounding corny, but it's true.) Improvisations are in the same vein, rarely wandering far from the original theme or chord progression. These are veteran musicians with nothing more in mind than communicating the pleasure they take in the music and in playing it together. The album photos of them smiling while sharing a bottle of wine are entirely believable, as is the album note that says they often finished a track with the laughter of mutually-pleased satisfaction. Receptive listeners will smile too, even if they don't join in the toast.
"Fuerza Milonguera" opens the session. It is typical of most of what is to follow. If you liked the tango used in the film "Scent of a Woman" with Al Pacino, you'll like this one and most of the release. In an equal partnership, the players alternate playing the mainline while the other provides the harmony and dance rhythm. Although the tango dominates, other Latin dance rhythms appear and a lone melancholy waltz, "Vals Para Mañana".
Hardcore jazz fans will look elsewhere, as will those who favor Piazzola's often harder-driven, even savage approach, but lovers of jazz-tinged romantic tangos should definitely grab this one.