Review and photographs by J Hunter
Additional photographs by Rudy Lu, Cheri Bordelon, Andrzej Pilarczyk
Usually, a “cool day” at Jazz at the Lake involves fleece, a hat and a couple of cups of coffee (or chili) from one of the vendors up at the top of Shepard Park. A “cool day” on this day had the previous day’s summer-like temperatures to compare to, so temperatures in the low 70s felt like maybe – just maybe – we might see fall sometime in October. What we had on tap for this day, though, was more blue skies, more cooling breezes off Lake George, and more sumptuous jazz… all presented in ways designed to challenge your definition of the word.
Let’s start with a “simple” concept: Accordion jazz. Sounds like the worst night you’ve ever spent at the VFW, right? Never mind that the accordion was a part of this music going back to the days of Django Reinhardt, or that Victor Prieto had already shown his axe’s affinity with the genre two years ago on this very stage, as a support player for Christian Howes & Southern Exposure. But rather than dive into the better-known creative depths plumbed by Reinhardt’s Quintette du Hot Club de France, Prieto’s goal was to meld Argentinian tango jazz with musical styles from the Galician region of northwest Spain where he grew up; that meant mashing up seemingly incompatible Celtic and Brazilian styles with sounds created by none other than Astor Piazzolla. On the compatibility front, Prieto explained that, in Galicia, “If you don’t play the bagpipes or the accordion, you are playing soccer!”