New Tango and Beyond
Agustín Luna knocks ’em out with a strong North American debut to a packed hall at the Simons Center
What a beautiful conclusion to this year’s vibrant Wachovia Jazz Series. Acoustic guitarist Agustín Luna, a 25-year-old talent from Argentina, wowed his audience with his style, technique, versatility, grace — and speaking voice — on Wednesday evening (June 6) during a marvelous one-hour performance at the Recital Hall in the Simons Center. This was his first official performances outside of Argentina.
Already a master musician, Luna worked mostly off of a set Argentine and Brazilian folk and tango standards in a program that included renditions of works by Peruvian, American, and French composers. After an elegant introduction from Wachovia Jazz director Michael Grofsorean, Luna, dressed in casual black, carefully took his seat center stage, with no sheet music anywhere, smiled and asked for forgiveness for his “very bad English,” which wasn’t really very bad at all.
Luna began with by a quiet piece by an Argentinian composer (Felipe Lara or Eduardo Falu, perhaps?) that very gradually built momentum. His concentration and unusual fingering technique were intense and impressive. At times, his right hand finger style looked more The Who’s John Entwistle’s bass-playing style than a proper classical guitarist. It was fluid, punctuated and almost flawless.
He continued at a steady pace with one of several brief selections written by famous Argentinian composer Astor Piazolla and a series of fast-moving waltzes (they sounded more like they were in 6/8 time signature than in 3/4), explaining a bit about each piece over the hand-held microphone at every break.
One highlight included “Fuoco,” a much more “modern” styled piece by French composer Ron Dyens, featured on Luna’s new album. The harmonics, double-stops, and rapid 16th-note runs were as fiery as the song title. Another breathtaking moment came with the “tango nuevo” piece “Chamattida de Sauce” by Luis Borda (also on Luna’s new disc). “This is folk music from the interior of the country …not from Buenos Aires,” the guitarist laughed beforehand.
The “jazziest” moments included a self-worked medley of American ragtime themes and a closing number full of sudden rhythm and dynamic changes.
Luna received a very loud, standing ovation and graciously performed one encore selection, obviously moved by his reception. At only age 25, this young performer already resembled the masters in his program.
AGUSTÍN LUNA • Spoleto Festival’s Wachovia Jazz Series • $30 • (I hour) • June 8, 9 at 7 and 9 p.m. • Recital Hall, Simons Center, 54 St. Philip St. • 579-310