Zum is a very special band. Zum's members all are highly acclaimed musicians in areas very different from what Zum the band actually plays - tango with full-blooded gypsy fiddle at breakneck speeds wherein two styles of ultimate passion come together and blend seamlessly. The musicians of Zum have a background in violin or bass chamber music, mathematics, jazz piano and as accordionist for film scores and pop records. And let's not to forget the bassist who plays in any style you care to imagine.
With Gypsy Tango Pasión, the first thing you have to do is crank up the volume. Then a rework of the standard "Two Guitars" kicks in as "The Disillusioned Guitarist". From the title it might be clear that "Two Guitars" has been expertly blended with the great Desillusion tango theme. Somewhere in its midst, violinist Adam Summerhayes engages a ferocious, almost Russian-style chase with pianist David Gordon.
Speed freaks alert: Zum's version of the "El Enterriano" might not be the fastest but it's surely one of the sweetest. The lovely glissandos on the violin together with the high pitch of the accordion and the slap accents on the bass make for a feast.
Evident in all tracks is a good sense of humor, not only by virtue of what compositions were chosen but how they're executed. Tiny little extras which the musicians leave in unsuspected places show off their mastering of the compositions and connoisseurship of its beauty. A good example is "Una Matika De Ruda", a traditional Sephardic wedding song. Bass, violin and cello open and provide the aha erlebnis, the recognition of the melody. Then the piano enters to change the mood into something more grim before veering into a jazzy vibe with the bass for a willing companion. Then the smaller strings return and pick up the melody again. This can't possibly be a happy marriage. But it gets more outré yet. The song seamlessly moves into "Requiem At A Glue Factory", indeed inspired by a horse that was put down. Then it is full speed ahead with finger-breaking fiddling in "Bessarabian Bitch", a very familiar theme that is broken in the middle by a more contemplative part from Roumania.
Of course the master Piazzolla is recognized in two compositions before an ode to the man that preceded him, Alberto Ginastera, gets added. The hesitation and anticipation of "Danze de la Moza Donosa", of when the climax might be occurring, makes this perhaps the album's highlight. Tango tantra?
Five great musicians with a love -- and what's more, true passion -- for the tango with a gypsy flavor are unique. The collection of new compositions, reworks of classics and their clever sequencing and intersections is heartwarming. Tango is a very emotional affair, a lover's quarrel, a passionate duel. Combined with the warm or hot-blooded Gypsy influences, Zum ably delivers the charge to the spellbound listener.