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4.5 out of 5 stars18
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 28 April 2008
This as hands down one of the most astonishing recordings I have ever heard. I bought it knowing a bit about tango, and a bit about Piazzolla, but regardless of that, this is incredible music. The music itself is gorgeous - dark, beautiful, ominous, brooding and deeply passionate. The playing is beyond compare - laser precise and yet at the same time gritty and rough. This is very much a band effort, and what a band - they swing, caress and whip up thunder.

Apparently this angered the tango purists in Argentina, as did much of Piazzollas output, and I can see why - this is modern, vital music, with clear influences from jazz, classical music and even the rush of punk. I must emphasise that you do not need to know much about tango to enjoy this, and also that this is so far removed from safe "world" music as to be in the next galaxy.

If you want to hear the raw emotional power and deep passion that music is capable of expressing, listen to this.
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on 12 January 2006
THIS IS NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER'S TANGO..., ...but your father might have liked it, if he listened with an open mind. For me - this is absolutely one of the most stunning recordings I've ever heard. Piazzolla (bandoneón) and the musicians he assembled for this quintet (Fernando Suárez Paz, violin; Pablo Ziegler, piano; Horacio Malvicino, Sr., guitar; and Héctor Console, bass) gave the performances of their collective lifetimes when they made this album, recorded in NYC in May of 1986. It is the zenith of Piazzolla's career - and that's saying a lot, considering the contributions he made to music in his lifetime.
The music is nuevo tango - the traditional soul of tango, full of the emotion that it has always carried (and with which it carries its listeners and dancers), charged and reborn with all of the grit and grime that exists 'at street level'. Gosh - if the tangos we're used to hearing and seeing in the old films made your grandmother blush, this would most certainly put her on the floor in a dead faint. The music is intricately composed - but at the same time, it is FELT in the depths of the soul. There is nothing whatsoever cold and emotionless about it. The musicians themselves are of the highest caliber - some are classically trained, some have their roots in jazz, but they are all under the spell of Piazzolla's vision. The quiet passages purr and stroke the senses, the more strident ones will pick the listener up and toss them around. The music will make you want to close your eyes and drift away one moment, then have you sweating the next.
Piazzolla made one more recording with this group, LA CAMORRA, and one featuring some of the same players (but not all of them), THE ROUGH DANCER AND THE CYCLICAL NIGHT (based on a story by the great Argentinean literary master Jorge Luis Borges). These two are very, very good - but ZERO HOUR is his greatest.
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on 9 August 2000
I thought I'd get sunny Latin rhythms for dancing about to in my living room... but this is dark and intriguing music. There are fast pieces with that classic, off-the-beat tango rhythm on accordian, but laced with a sinister-sounding violin accompaniment. Plus slow and melancholy tunes with piano and guitar, strange harmonies. Too dark for a dinner party, but if you want to encounter something new in world music, try this out.
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on 12 January 2006
Astor Piazzolla's music is the apotheosis of the tango as the toughest and most tender of all dance musics. It is the embodiment of Shostakovich's take on (jewish) folk music as expressing laughter through tears and despair through dance. Tango, tragedia, comedia, kilombo (whorehouse). Those four words that are repeated in the opening "tanguedia III" remain relevant for the album's duration... and yet, "tango zero hour" is so much more; it is the final touch of the ineffable that defines all great music and makes it accessible to all. With that in mind, it seems appropriate to cut this review short with one final encouragement to pick up this album as a wonderful example of contemporary composition and musicianship.
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on 21 August 2010
If you like Gotan Project but find their stuff a tad too loungy/kitschy, get this instead. If I had to pick one piece of music to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be Concierto Para Quinteto off this album.
For equally mind-blowing but totally different accordion music, check out Kluster by Kimmo Pohjonen.
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on 28 February 2013
There many CDs out there with Piazzollas music, but not many of them are maestros recordings, where he plays bandoneon himself. I purchased 'Tango Zero Hour' and 'The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night'. Tango Zero Hour is a very emotional, poetic and romantic album. Violin solos make some pieces extremely romantic and in general the music is perfectly arranged and wonderfully performed by the musicians. Tango motives here are meant to be listened and not danced, they are beautiful improvisations, often a mix from classical music, jazz and tango.

Personally I also own 'The Central Park Concert', which is a live album recorded in New York. Songs are almost identical with 'Tango Zero Hour', but in my opinion the live concert is sometimes even more interesting and fresher than this studio recording. But unfortunately 'The Central Park Concert' is very expansive to buy on amazon, so I got it from iTunes. In the end I also wanted to own a physical copy of this wonderful music and bought this CD as well. I don't regret my purchase, sometimes it is good not to hear people applauding to the piece in the middle of the music. Piazzollas music is wonderful, poetic, contemporary and at the same time full of old folklore motives. This recording is an absolute MUST for Astor's fans.

The CD itself was delivered in a cardboard sleeve with a large booklet in different languages.
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on 7 July 2015
This isn't light tuneful Latin-American dance. It's dark and sometimes dissonant, fierce and generally melancholy. Not for everybody, but I found it unforgettable.
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on 19 June 2012
This album is truly amazing! It is new, modern, and yet so very essentially tango, even if many tangueros do not share my opinion. It is mysterious and yet familiar, it is dark and yet full of vitality, it is passionate and yet so melancholic at times...
I love the mixtures, I love the music, the game, the dance Piazzolla plays. In tango music and dance are interconnected and it's all part of a game, of a scenario. Piazzolla is the creator of a wonderful, grand scenario, of a new - and yet so very rooted in its tradition - tango world.
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on 14 March 2014
This is an excellent recording which has both clasical and jazz influences. Astor was at the peek of his playing as were the rest of the group. It is album you can't tire of.
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on 7 December 2013
In my opinion, one of the top ten Argentine tango records of all time. Beautiful and inspiring music. It does not get any better than that!
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