Three-time Grammy nominated Argentinian pianist and composer Emilio Solla and his Tango Jazz Orchestra just won a Latin GRAMMY with his eleventh and most ambitious album to date, PUERTOS: Music from International Waters, in the Best Latin Jazz Album category. The awards were announced by The Latin Recording Academy, through a live event on their Facebook page on November 19, 2020.

Emilio Solla, who now resides in New York, has worked with world-known artists such as Paquito D'Rivera, Yo-Yo Ma, and Wynton Marsalis. The Tango Jazz Orchestra is made up of 17 of some of the most talented NYC jazz scene players, including John Ellis, Alex Norris and French bandoneonist Julien Labro, to name a few, and it features guests Edmar Castañeda and Arturo O'Farrill.

After a year of working and performing with the orchestra in venues such as Birdland and Dizzy's, Emilio Solla decided to record PUERTOS as a tribute to the contribution of migrant cohorts to humanity through a blending of cultures and art. In Mister Solla's own words: "The Argentinian culture is greatly defined by the European migration. Tango would not exist without the Italian melodies or the German bandoneon. This album is a tribute to my Spanish and Ukrainian ancestors, and to the migration of people in search of fire, water or fertile lands where to raise their descendants in peace."

Mister Solla pushes his creative boundaries even further in this fusion of modern tango, South American folk music, and its predominant Latin Jazz. Every composition is dedicated to a port that has been critical to the development and enrichment of jazz and tango, and which have influenced Mister Solla throughout his career: La Habana, Montevideo, Benguela, Buenos Aires, Nueva York, Cartagena, Cádiz and New Orleans. The album is already making waves in the Latin Jazz scene and has been getting raving reviews, among them a 5-star review from Downbeat magazine.
Emilio Solla's first band, Apertura, was praised by Astor Piazzolla himself as one of the most interesting new sounds in the Buenos Aires scene in 1986. Nowadays, with eleven CDs as bandleader and more than forty as arranger/producer, he is considered by peers and critics to be one of the most outstanding and personal voices in this musical stream, a fusion of modern Argentine tango and folk with jazz and other contemporary music styles (generally referred to as Tango-Jazz). He has performed all around Europe, Japan, the US, and Latin America to raving reviews in many of the most important Jazz houses and Festivals (Bim Huis, Lincoln Center, Marciac, Blue Note, Fasching).

Solla moved to Barcelona in 1996, and to New York in 2006, always in search of personal and artistic growth. Since in New York, he has composed for, arranged for and performed with Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo O'Farrill, Edmar Castañeda, and many others, besides performing with his quintet Bien Sur! in town at the Jazz Standard, Dizzy's and Smalls, featuring saxophonist Chris Cheek. This quintet released its first CD, Bien Sur! in 2010, with special guest Billy Hart, which was included in the Best of 2010 list by Downbeat Magazine. New York Times ruminated, "The virile throb of Astor Piazzolla was omnipresent in Solla's stately pulse."

He continues to tour Europe with Emilio Solla & Afines, his Barcelona's based quintet while working as a free-lance arranger and pianist in different projects in NY. Since November 2010, he is leading a nine-piece orchestra, La Inestable de Brooklyn, featuring some of the most influential jazz players in NYC (John Ellis, Ryan Keberle) whose first CD, Second Half (2015), was nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Latin Jazz Album. In November 2014, Solla's first symphonic work had its World Premiere at the Palau de la Musica, during the Barcelona Jazz Festival and its US Premier at the Chicago Symphony Hall by the Chicago Sinfonietta, which met with rave reviews. 2017 brought him back to Buenos Aires for the Premiere of the symphonic version of his Suite Piazzollana. In 2018, he started composing for his brand-new project, the Tango Jazz Orchestra, a 17-piece big band using a bandoneon, taking his blend of Latin American sounds and jazz to a whole new level of accomplishment. This orchestra has just released its first album, Puertos: Music from International Waters on August 28, 2019.

Life at sea is one of adventure, mystery, and intrigue. For most of modernity, traveling by water has been a principal pathway of migration. And tracing these routes doesn't just yield insights into our collective history but also our musical one. When people of different countries and civilizations collide, so do their cultures, cuisines, and compositions. (And from an ecological perspective, estuaries that form from the mixing of salt and freshwater are rich with biodiversity.) And herein is the spark of Puertos: Music of International Waters: a diverse and dazzling, triumphant, and tantalizing album for "all hands" by acclaimed bandleader, composer, and arranger Emilio Solla.

"I've always been fascinated with how bodies of water merge as one. And especially, the role of ports, " said Solla. "It's where people arrive and depart, and where new relationships and ideas begin." His curiosity with voyaging by sea began when he learned about his ancestors. His paternal grandparents hailed from Spain (Galicia and Andalusia). His maternal grandparents came from Ukraine and arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1919. They rented a room in a home near the main port. Solla fondly remembers his grandparents speaking Spanish only proficiently, full of Neapolitan slang, with a Russian accent. Such a unique mix in the early twentieth century might have only been found in Buenos Aires. In fact, the cover picture of the album is circa 1920, and shows immigrants arriving here, entering a new life.

Born and raised in Argentina, Solla followed the family tradition (not of traveling by ship!) of moving countries, first settling in Spain, and then ending up in the United States. While in the US, he recognized parallels in the port cities of New York and Buenos Aires. "Both are integral to unique forms of music: jazz and tango, " he said. "Foreigners made these port cities home and, in turn, made their place in the world."

Wanting to explore the role of ports in cultural collision, he began writing and arranging music that would invoke this theme. Puertos is Solla's big band follow up album to his GRAMMY-nominated Second Half that was every bit of a masterpiece. Each piece on this album is dedicated to a port that has played a seminal role in the development of jazz, tango, or Solla's creative life. That an artist has thought deeply about the geography of his craft speaks to his commitment in honoring traditions, paying homage to those who came before, rending them anew, and creating a "port" for new audiences to dock. Like his previous album, this one is a transcendent vessel. -Kabir Sehgal
The Tango Jazz Orchestra
Alejandro Aviles (soprano, alto, piccolo, flute)
Todd Bashore (alto, flute, clarinet)
Tim Armacost (tenor, alto flute, clarinet)
John Ellis (tenor, soprano, clarinet, flute)
Terry Goss (baritone, bass clarinet)
Alex Norris (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Jim Seeley (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Brad Mason (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Jonathan Powell (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Noah Bless (trombone)
Mike Fahie (trombone)
Eric Miller (trombone)
James Rodgers (bass trombone)
Julien Labro (bandoneon, accordina)
Emilio Solla (piano, conductor)
Pablo Aslan (double-bass)
Ferenc Nemeth (drums)
Guest Percussionists
Samuel Torres (congas on track 1)
Arturo Prendez (percussion on track 2)
Franco Pinna (bombo legüero on track 6)
Special Guests
Arturo O'Farrill (piano on track 2)
Edmar Castañeda (harp on track 6)

1- Sol La, al Sol (to La Habana) 7:48
2- Llegará, Llegará, Llegará (to Montevideo) 11:37
3- Chacafrik (to Benguela) 6:35
4- La Novena (to Buenos Aires) 6:46
5- Four for Miles (to New York) 10.50
6- Allegrón (to Cartagena) 9:07
7- Andan Luces (to Cádiz) 8:22
8- Buenos Aires Blues (to New Orleans) 10:41
All music composed and arranged by Emilio Solla (SGAE/BMI)

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