(c) Spektral Quartet
Credits: Drew Dir for Manual Cinema
Spektral Quartet and bandoneon/accordion virtuoso Julien Labro unveiled their vivid debut album on Azica Records, From This Point Forward in May of 2014. Through it, Labro and Spektral Quartet set out to amplify and extend the string quartet + bandoneon repertoire beyond the beloved canon of Astor Piazzolla.
"Jazz," "contemporary classical" or "tango" are genre labels far too cramped to encapsulate the music of Argentine composer/pianist Fernando Otero, whose "De Ahora En Más" is featured on the record. Breathless fugues, opaque chord clusters and circular grooves here have a tincture of tango, but the language has evolved into something much more risky. Also hailing from Buenos Aires, composer/pianist Diego Schissi has similarly transformed the tango vernacular with tunes like the irrepressible "Líquido 5." Perhaps it can best be summed up in the composer's own words, in email correspondence with Labro and the quartet: "It is display of Full Power, a forceful demonstration of energy...edgy and a bit uncontrolled."
Labro and the Spektral Quartet began their collaboration after being serendipitously paired for Northwestern University's Big Squeeze accordion summit. With Piazzolla as their point of departure, the group immediately began sleuthing for more recent scores. Crafting many of the arrangements himself, Labro moved across the Argentine borders, embracing the progressive voices of Hermeto Pascoal (think the Brazilian Frank Zappa) and Miguel Zenón (Puerto Rico, New York), who appears as guest soloist on the album.
With From This Point Forward, Julien Labro and the Spektral Quartet will introduce American audiences to a largely-unheard corner of new South American repertoire, and will continue to ask, What comes next?