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Daniel Piazzolla: “In the world, who represents the music of Buenos Aires is Piazzolla”

On the centenary of Astor Piazzolla, exclusively for the memories and reflections of his son Daniel: “Piazzolla was a born provocateur and liked to fight,” he confesses.

Daniel Piazzolla

Daniel Piazzolla kept his father company during the rest after the 1973 heart attack. Between the talks next to the bed of Astor Piazzolla, in full creative effervescence in the Noneto, and combusting the vital tandem Horacio Ferrer and Amelita Baltar, there were constant references to the sounds of jazz and rock imposed by Miles Davis and Chick Corea. Both admired Quincy Jones's orchestral works, which mostly included electrical instruments.   A few years later, the nth fight with Amelita would make reality one of the most experimental, and less understood, stages of Piazzolla's career, the Electronic Octect, or the “electrified ensemble”, as the bandoneonist and composer Marplatense sometimes called “Persecuta & rdquo;, or the live “Olympia 77”, demand new listening   .

  “I practically introduced synthesizers to my old man,” says Daniel from Villa La Angostura, where he will celebrate the paternal centenary in the intimacy of his family.   “My dad contacted me in 1975, just separated from Amelita, and calls desperate from Italy that he felt very lonely, and that he wanted to kill himself. It was typical of Astor to exaggerate. In addition, she was ranting against Rome and who missed Buenos Aires. In my personal life it was also a complicated time because my daughter Daniela was about to be born. But ten days later they call from Aerolíneas Argentinas to warn me that I had a ticket in my name. I had to go out with the synthesizer because I didn't want to quit my studies. When I arrived in Italy he asked what he was carrying in a huge suitcase, and what was a synthesizer, and what he brought that crap for, and that we had to move back to Buenos Aires. In fact there was a recording contract in Milan and we were back soon,” says the pianist and composer   Daniel, with several tangos with lyrics by Ferrer, and who retired in 1992 in an Octet of tribute to his great father. In that group, Pipi, his drummer son Daniel, made his debut with renowned projects, among them” Piazzolla plays Piazzolla “, nominated by his Latin Grammy group Escalandrum in 2011, continued the musical heritage of the Piazzolla.  


Journalist: And how did you persuade your father to approach the synthesizer?

Daniel Piazzolla: One boring day my father asked what so many buttons were for and I started to show him all the possibilities that the instrument had.   At that time he realized that the effects he did with his mouth, sometimes whistled mermaid, or hit the bandoneon, could be done with this gadget.   . Then he started typing with that synthesizer, on a three-octave keyboard, because we had to record for three films, the Troliana Suite, and music for a record by José Ángel Trelles. So we had to record for like five albums in two weeks, something the synthesizer helped a lot. The films were “Lumière”, “Goodbye Santiago” and “Wedding Trip”   Before recording, he grabs me at the entrance of the studio: “You're my son, you can't be wrong. You're also going to charge half the rest of the musicians because you have to pay the floor.” And to me that chance meant glory. I would have done the job for free. Imagine that I recorded the same with a tremendous crap   .


Journalist: Opinions about this electronic experience are usually not positive. Even Piazzolla himself...

DP:   It is a little-known fantastic stage of Piazzolla, and in the two versions that had the octet. Between 1975 and 1977 he won all the youth. At the concert we gave in Buenos Aires, in August 1976 at the Gran Rex, there were Charly García and Luis Alberto Spinetta applauding as beasts   . And he caught that part of the audience that was his target. I know my old man said that those arrangements had to be considered as the smell of pizza because we had made them in Italy. However, in the last car he had there was only one cassette, and it was the live recording of the Octet in Paris, in 1977.


Q: Is there a Piazzolla style?

DP: There is no explicable Piazzolla style. It's just that, with everything he had studied, he faced tango in a totally different way.   He never set out in words to revolutionize tango, but simply did it.   When he finished studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, the master of masters of the last century, she guides him to stop doing the symphonic works he had been writing, and dedicate himself exclusively to his instrument, the bandoneon, and tango. So he took that music with all the tools he had at hand, with his genius, but he never wanted to kill tango.   Piazzolla felt the music of Buenos Aires in his own way   , no more, no less. In the late 1950s he was the only one who came up with changing tango, and the only one who danced to move a numb scene.

Daniel Piazzolla

  The piazzollazo is coming, the piazzollazo is coming  

Q: Do you think we overcome the local rejection of your father's music?

DP: That old discussion about whether Piazzolla is tango is totally settled. Today it is hard to imagine the war of the tangueros here against my old man, in the early 1950s.   Today, in the world, who finally represents the music of Buenos Aires is Piazzolla. And in the world no one discusses it because his art is practically considered contemporary classical music   . You, if you look for it in a record store outside, they don't put it in tango, but place it in jazzy or symphonic music.

Thank God I was able to play three years with him in Europe and I felt the worship they had in the Old Continent.   In Germany he is considered one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century.   I would tell you that in Europe the only country where its presence, and influence, is not so visible is in Spain. But in Japan and Russia your consideration as an artist and visionary is tremendous, my son Pipi tells me.   For example, in Russia, when there is a political change, and structures are removed, it is called piazzollazo.  


Q. How did the family live hostility in the 1950s?

DP: And we had a little because there were taxis that didn't want to get us up. Although there were also others who charged us because it was Piazzolla. Or others who were yelling at him murderer.   I've seen my old man's fights on the street that ended with Astor's first hit because he placed the left-handed like none. With his hand hollowed punishing in his rival ear, the guys who insulted him ended up knockout.  


Q: Were you not afraid of finger injuries?

DP: I didn't mean the consequences. Luckily nothing happened to her hand, but I also say she never lost a hand to hand.


Q: Where did you learn?

DP:   To hit hard he learned it in childhood in New York. Astor was in a jew run by the Jews.   His friends were from the community on 9th Street. And the classics turned out fights between Chinatown against Jews, or those in the Italian Quarter against Jews. And in the middle was beating Astor. So he learned to fight and, moreover, improved when he studied boxing.


Q: What was the United States for your father?

DP: The second homeland where he lived almost fourteen years.


Q. And how was the return to the family formed with Dedé Wolff, married in 1942?

DP: We had a very bad time the years he decided to try his luck in North America since 1958.   It was almost three years at the limit of poverty. My old man got spaced works as an arranger, or some shows on TV shows like Ed Sullivan, although those performances were basically because of the rarity of the instrument. Lean performances in shows at no time gave him a work or contacts.   And when we decided to return, it was a serious problem because we didn't have the money for the trip, nor to make a move from one end to the other end of the continent.   The old man's idea of settling in New York for a living had failed.   And what happened at that time was providential because the French publisher offered an advance equivalent to the four passages, plus some additional handle, for the rights of “Adiós Nonino” for 25 years. Imagine the twine they did, a negotiation, but we were liquidated. With that we were able to return to the Rio Tercero freighter, which took almost a month to arrive in Buenos Aires.


Q: What was Piazzolla father like?

DP: When we lived together, we were very close, very familiar. We were like one person. Everyone talked about Piazzolla's Three D's, Dedé, my mother; Diana, my sister; and me. This was kept until my grandfather died, that my old man respected to death, my grandfather Nonino, who told my father that if I did anything to him Dedé, he was going to kill him because he loved her more than him.   When my grandfather Vicente dies, Astor dismants.   He begins to go out more at night, to putanate, and it all ended with the separation of my old lady in 1966 (think). It was a big change in my father's personality after my grandfather's death. My old man had played in every cabaret with — Aníbal- Pichuco Troilo, and so many other tangueros, and never falling into any visible temptation. Let's think most of his coworkers had suffered from millions of venereal diseases or strong additions. But my old man came from another education. One thing I never talked to him is he probably got almost a virgin to marriage. But, well, once without Nonino, it's like it exploded what was repressed. And there rotted all the family climate that came from Piazzolla's cradle.   Nonino was the person who loved Astor most, without a doubt.  


Q. Do you think that this period of the “explosion of the repressed” is related to your father's manifest creativity in the late 1960s?

DP: I don't think it has so much to do with the personal issue because I had a lot of music saved. The explosion of his music is earlier, after Nadia, with the Octet or the String Sextet, and when the tango composer emerges covered by the arranger, or classical composer. He was an eximio bandoneon but not yet the genius who met after 1955.   I think his big guy was having traveled to New York and not growing up here. It was a big break for both Astor and the family   . I was studying piano here for over six years, and I had to quit because there was no money in the United States. When we returned, he resumed the path of exceptional music he had left. I would never argue with my dad as a musician, or as a composer, maybe just like my dad, or my mom's husband.   I had so much music inside that on the return he composed and composed without stopping.  


Q: Did you prefer recognition as a performer or composer?

DP:   The composer and the bandoneonist went hand in hand. Besides, the only one who could play his songs was him.   One thing was holding on the other. There was no way his orchestra, and his songs, would sound without his bandoneon.


P:   There is talk about the sixties of the Instituto Di Tella, or the literary boom, but without Piazzolla much music of the time is missing.  

  DP: That decade was also made by my dad   . But I can assure you that only in 78 or 79, when he returned with the Quintet, he could see some mangoes. And he finally had the recognition he longed for. Anyway in the late 1980s he won the definitive consecration, and there came a time he did 180 concerts per year. He didn't enjoy it very much when he died in 1992.


Q. Did that stage lived as a reconnaissance or a rematch?

DP:   More like a recognition than a rematch, although the rematch should have been in Buenos Aires, a city where he spent very little time in the last decade of active life.   Of course, when he came, he filled theatres at ease like in Luna Park, or at the Opera Theatre, with locations quickly sold out.


Q: What were Astor's tastes?

DP: Cars and fishing. The fierros by Nonino, who had a famous bicycle shop in Mar del Plata, and fishing by the cousins Bertolami. They are the ones who instilled him the passion of fishing and then taught me. My old man's father hated the beach, and I think I never saw him fishing, but he loved cars and motorcycles.   Piazzolla also loved cars, but I can only buy the one I wanted, a Mercedes, in 1987. Just two years before he got sick.  


  “As long as I can get a shark out, I can keep playing the bandoneon.”  
Q: Why did you specialize in shark fishing?

DP: That was the only thing he fished. We both started fishing sharks in San Blas Bay, just around the United States. I remember that first day we pulled out a shark each. Afterwards, for economic reasons, he could no longer keep up with him because it is a complex and expensive type of fishing. And I was able to resume only in 1995, three years after Dad's death (pause).   My old man said, “As long as I can get a shark out, I can keep playing the bandoneon. The day I don't have the strength to pull out a shark, I won't be able to keep playing.” And that's what happened. He got sick in 1990 and couldn't play any more, or catch his dear sharks.  


Q: You were talking about the high number of shows by Piazzolla on the edge of the 70's, do you think it had an impact on your health?

DP: Dr. Aramburu from the Belgrano Cardiology Center, who gave him five   stent   in   1988, he said when he signed the discharge: “Look, Piazzolla, don't play, stay in your house quiet, and compose a million tangos, but don't go back to the bellows. If you touch the bandoneon you are at high risk   “But how were you doing to keep Astor still, impossible. So, when he went on tour again in 1989 with the Sextet, he put on two bandoneons, first with Julio Pane and then Daniel Binelli. The idea was to split the bandoneon parts and my old man wouldn't do that hard. But he himself wrote parts that were twice as much as the others, and it was impossible to convince him to loosen.

Q: How did you react to criticism in privacy?

DP: He never gave ball to reviews because he had a way to go. Once again he grabbed to the pineapples with commentator Julio Jorge Nelson, or because he didn't like the tangueros of the environment who criticized him, but in general everything slipped him. He had a path traced. And History gave him the reason.



Q: He was a flammable declarant, didn't he ever regret?

DP: Never. At Montevideo airport, he said “La Cumparsita” was a crap. It was his way of provoking. And talk about him. Once in Rio de Janeiro when we arrived with the Electronic Octet, he said that the pope was damn: “O papa is gay.” It happens that, when we were in Rome, there was a ball that Paul VI was dating an actor from   western spaghetti   . And there was a barbarian quilombo among the embassies. On that trip he said in Caracas that Gardel was tuning. They almost burned him alive.   Piazzolla was a born provocateur, a camorrero, and he liked to fight.  


Q: Is Piazzola left to meet?

DP:   There are almost unpublished material yet to play but I doubt it will be 3000 works as some say.   What happens is that there is a lot of film music, incidental music that does not exceed eight bars, and they take it as a play. I think his work does not exceed two thousand integral compositions, which is a number, of course.


Q: Your father also went to posterity for heavy jokes, some you remember in particular?

DP: Terrible. Among those I remember is to hit a trumpet player's foot, just as the solo came in. Or rent a monkey from an organiller and throw it to your singer Hector De Rosas in the room. And when they pulled him out the window, then they had to run him at dawn, and they couldn't grab him, because the animal had been crazy. Or empty their musicians 50 kilos of cement in bed when they returned dead to the hotel. Not big was it loosening. To me, for example, when we went on tour, I would move forward the clock, and wake up to the screams that I had fallen asleep. And I was running to the theater at six o'clock in the morning. That's what he did to me three times.   Guitarist Oscar López Ruiz's book shows the best heavy jokes, “Piazzolla crazy, crazy, crazy: 25 years of laburo and jodas living with a genius”.  


Q: Taking out “Adiós Nonino”, which tangos from Piazzolla are your favorite?

DP:”   Song of October”, the “Tangata”, “Winter Buenos Aires”, themes with amazing melodies. We can spend several days talking about Astor's genialities.  


Q: It will be discussed in 2021 about Piazzolla's legacy of music, how to describe it with such a diverse, complex and rich inspirational production?

DP: It's a very difficult thing because I feel like my old man opened and closed a circle.   Anyone who tries to revolutionize Argentine music, as he did, will go life (silence). I can say that Piazzolla wanted his music to be heard in 2020, and in 3000, too. A year we've spent it, and in 80 years, Astor will be bigger.  


Publication Date: 11/03/2021

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