photos by David Spira

Music is for people and auditoriums are sacred temples where music and magic happen and time is dismissed, according to Nacho Arimany, percussionist with the Americano Trio. The audience on a snowy night, March 11th, in Beaver Creek, Colorado was treated to an evening of Americana by a very Spanish trio: classical guitarist Pablo Villegas, Pedro Giraudo on double bass and Nacho Arimany on percussions.The warm Beaver Creek’s Vilar Theatre hosted a celebration of the 2015 release of Americano by Pablo Villegas, a native of La Rioja region of Spain.  The three musicians exchanged nods and grins like volts of electricity.. Pablo’s joy was infectious as he led the trio through a program much like the CD with tangos, a bit of Villa Lobos, Bernstein and bluegrass. Villegas’ tremulo on his ethereal solo ‘Un Sueno en la Floresta” (a dream in a forest) suggested the serene occupation of resting beneath fir branches.  

Giraudo won two Grammys in 2014 for best Tango album and best Latin Pop album. More often he is heard at the Blue Note and other preeminent jazz clubs in New York performing his arrangements and compositions.  He is principal bassist for Můsica de Cámara String Orchestra which commissioned him to write a piece for string orchestra in 2013.

Percussionist Nacho Arimany sat barefoot on the floor surrounded by the tools of his trade: a gourd from Mali, a clay pot and a wooden block that doubled as his perch while he drummed on its sides.  Arimany began his musical training at the piano at age 6 and as a teen he sang with Spain’s famed opera singer Montserrat Caballe. His vocals added an another layer of lucious sound to the trio’s performance. He claimed that he turned to the drums after hearing street drumming in Spain.

The American selections featured an arrangement of three songs from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, a tribute to Pablo’s adopted West Side neighborhood.  His Maria was heartfelt and his rendition of America meant more for this adopted son. While it was highly entertaining to hear Pablo strumming on a banjo for three classic bluegrass songs, the highlight of the evening was a cool arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Round Midnight for double bass and guitar that may have been inspired by Jim Hall’s transcription from 1975.

Pablo Villegas has collaborated on albums with violinist Augustin Hadelich and the opera singer, Placido Domingo.  He performs classical guitar repertoire often with symphonies around the world. Earlier in March Villegas offered a tribute to Segovia at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.  He will make his debut with the Chicago Symphony May 23rd.