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Moretto to fly again

Moretto has decided to once again perform on stage at a time when his sophisticated, modern tango music is enjoying a resurgence in popularity among young Argentinean and other South American musicians. The new generation of music lovers has discovered the sound that made Moretto’s trio, Alas, one of the most popular South American groups in the 70’s. The band’s name means “Wings” in English. Along with the concert at LaGuardia, his five-piece band will perform at several other venues.

“Since learning that our original music is being listened to and appreciated by a young generation of musicians and music lovers, we thought it would be nice to hold a number of free concerts and see if there is an interest,” said Moretto, who has not performed publicly for 24 years.

Accompanying Moretto, who is the electronic keyboard player and composer, are the original members of the trio — Alex Zucker on bass and Carlos Riganti on drums — plus Moretto’s son Martin on guitar and Hector Delcurto on bandaneon, which is a typical instrument of tango.

“Thirty years ago the group used a synthesizer to produce certain sounds,” he said. “Now we replaced the electronic instrument with two musicians.”

The popularity that Alas enjoyed in the 70s throughout Argentina and neighboring countries was comparable to the appeal of the famous American rock groups of that decade. From the time it was formed in 1974, the trio was recognized for its originality and musicianship. “We gained the reputation of being the musicians’ musicians,” said Moretto.

The group Alas, which well-known bass player Pedro Aznar described as the most sophisticated progressive band of all times, created a distinct sound that combined the most radical styles of progressive rock, tango, Argentine folk, and contemporary classical music.

During its first year, while touring extensively throughout South America, Alas attracted the attention of EMI, which signed a recording contract with the group, and went on to produce two of its six albums. In addition, the company remastered and reissued in CD format several editions of all the material recorded by Alas, including a complete box set released in 2002.

In 1976, Alas made musical history when it masterfully performed a series of concerts that included three bandoneon players as special guests, an experiment that had never been tried before. Following one of the performances, Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolla said that it was the most successful fusion between tango and progressive rock he had ever heard.

The group disbanded in 1979 when Moretto decided to come to the United States to pursue formal training in composition. He went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory and a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University.

For the past six years Moretto has been teaching music at LaGuardia. Aside from teaching, he is involved in organizing college jazz ensembles made up of talented faculty, staff, and students.

“Through the ensembles,” he said, “I hope to create a musical engine that is generated by the college and happens within the college.”

Moretto’s group, which will perform two concerts at the college — at 4 p.m. and at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19 — will play a selection of material that has been developed over the years, as well as the compositions from the original formation.

The event will be held in the college’s Little Theater at Van Dam Street at 47th Avenue, Long Island City. For more information, call the box office at 718-482-5151.

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