Freitag, 24. März 2017

Javier Di Ciriaco: íntimo

Argentine singer-guitar player Javier Di Ciriaco (who is also singer of the Sexteto Milonguero) lives all the words he sings, and he seems to experience all these high emotions of the tango lyrics and makes the audience feel them (listen to his version of Nostalgia by Cobián & Cadicamo). Often enough this may be too much, but he carefully keeps the balance. The singer writes that many years ago, he began singing “with all his senses”, and to sense “the interconnection of body, soul, and the audience”. Intimo – and one may believe it.
The way he enthusiastically manages this wide range of 13 different songs (one is a 4-song potpourri) deserves applause. Apart from classical tangos (i.e., Gardel´s Volver or El dia que me quieras) we also hear beautiful non-tangos such as Zamba para olvidar (by Daniel Toro & Julio Fontana) or Gracias a la vida (by Violeta Parra), but also contemporary pop songs such as Maria Carey´s My all or Elton John´s Sorry seems to be the hardest word with Spanish lyrics – and it works fine. Piazzolla & Ferrer´s Oblivion surprises with an arrangement quite different from what tangophiliacs may expect. Two songs were written by Javier Di Ciriaco and these underline that he is not only an impressive interpret of other composers´ songs, but also a great songwriter (listen to the rocking final song Miradas Perdidas). 
His voice is in the forefront of the mix, the beautifully played piano by Burkhard Heßler dynamically supports his interpretations (in some songs we hear also a guitar played by Di Ciriaco). That´s all - more is not needed to convince the audience. I really like these recordings which are never ‘intrusive’: Both musicians have a very sensitive approach (despite some required pathos here and there). Not to miss his live shows is a must.

Mittwoch, 22. März 2017

Mosalini Teruggi Cuarteto: Chamuyo

The Mosalini Teruggi Cuarteto is one of the outstanding ensembles of the contemporary tango scene. Juanjo Mosalini (bandoneon), Sébastien Surel (violin), Romain Descharmes (piano) and Leonardo Teruggi (double bass) are brilliant musicians who play with a rich sense for dynamics and with all the tonal colours of a quartet. The 12 compositions on their second album are written by Juanjo Mosalini and Leonardo Teruggi - and they are definitely worth it. It is not easy-listening music to please the dancers, but multifaceted narrative songs located somewhere between tango and chamber music. Virtuosity combines with temperate sensibility to stage this ‘post nuevo style’ music. 
I prefer their ethereal pieces, such as the beautiful “Mar y Sol” and “777”, but “Nada casi”  also attracts me. Mosalini´s “Code 18” and also Teruggi´s “Era de esperar” start with a ‘strumming mandolin’ sound played by the violin, and a haunting melody dominated by the bandoneon and violin. Piano and double-bass give these compositions the necessary structure in the sense of the ensemble. Touching is also Teruggi´s “Milonga del eco” (dedicated to Astor Piazzolla), a highly atmospheric piece of music, starting slowly and thoughtfully, before unfolding to something quite fragile. 
It is wonderful to hear how the four musicians carefully listen to each other and how they uncover the ‘soul’ of these songs, to make them speak to their listeners´ heart.

Samstag, 11. Februar 2017

Orquesta Tipica Andariega: Balliamo

This is the third album from Orquesta Tipica Andariega (featuring singer Walter "El Chino" Laborde in three songs) with the rich sound of three violins, three bandoneons, double bass and piano. Compared to their 2014 album of new compositions, “Andiamo”, this time around the ensemble has chosen to play tangos of the past, but with new arrangements (mostly by their director and bass player Luigi Coviello and one by bandoneon player Adrian Argat). All of these ‘Golden Age’ tangos live through the contrast of rhythmically accentuated ‘stride ahead’ parts followed by elegiac melodies, and the straightforward arrangements, reduced to the essential, support this impression. This clearly is the beauty of these songs.

Listening to “Esta noche de luna” (composed 1943 by José Garcia and Graciano Gómez-Marcó), I like very much how arranger Luigi Coviello deals with the beautiful melody and contrasts it with the rhythmic orchestral accents with strict ‘compas’. Compare it with Francisco Canaro´s version; they principally also have these accents, but Canaro seemed to be more interested in the elegiac melodies to please the dancers. In Coviello´s arrangement the melodies have more space to shine - and the accents are more ‘aggressive’. Luigi says that for him the balance of groove and rhythm is of importance, and that means having these clear differences between the rhythm parts and the melodic legato parts in a way that the musicians can “be like an angel in the legato and a devil in the rhythmic parts”. At least the devils are quite friendly but nevertheless seductive.

Also “Te aconsejo que me olvides” (written 1926 by Pedro Maffia and Jorge Curi) is a highly accentuated song which attracts with its syncopated beat and the performance of singer "El Chino" Laborde. Nothing against the old Aníbal Troilo version with Francisco Fiorentino, which has its own charm, but the Orquesta Tipica Andariaga version is more strict in its course. Here, singer Walter Chino Laborde plays his cards to phrase the lyrics, slowing the tempi, raising the dynamics – and thus ‘wakes the heart’ of this song. Outstanding! The same is true for Biagi´s well known “Humillación” from 1941; Laborde ‘lives’ this song with such intensity that it hurts. “I hate this love! When it broke my will, it reduced me to begging for your warmth."*

Great. Clear recommendation to join their shows and listen to their music.

* Translation taken from

Dienstag, 3. Januar 2017

El Cachivache Quinteto: Tango Punk Vol. II

With their album “Tango Punk Vol. I the El Cachivache Quinteto surprised their audience.They revitalized nine traditional compositions and underlined that each generation has to find their own approach to reconnect with their history and carry it further. Now their album “Tango Punk Vol. II” is out, and no, it is not a sampler with some more traditional tangos. They intend to convince us with 11 of their own compositions.
Six tracks are from pianist Pablo Montanelli, four by guitar player Vito Venturino, and one by Argentine composer-guitarrista Julian Graciano. Again the quintet plays with verve and enthusiasm and can easily convince a young audience. Of course I have my favourite songs, namely the lively and propelling “El Viajero” and “Se hizo de Noche” which are difficult to resist. One of their ‘strange’ compositions, “Fetiche”, is rather more post-rock than anything else. “Transylvanika” is a really beautiful vals that invites you to dance (although I didn´t care so much for the bottle neck guitar parts). 
Víto Venturino said that they wanted a ‘live’ sound for this recording and that all tracks were thus recorded simultaneously. However, this means that also several problematic moments of intonation on the violin were also retained, which decreases one’s listening pleasure in some tracks (i.e., “Celosamente”).
Nevertheless, with their dauntless and forceful approach, the El Cachivache Quinteto will surely become one of the next influential ensembles in the contemporary tango scene. Definitely go and see this band!

Montag, 2. Januar 2017

Juan Pablo de Lucca Quinteto: Después de todo

The quintet’s debut album has 8 tracks, most of which are written and arranged by their pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca, grandson of famous tango-singer Alberto Castillo. We hear Juan Pablo de Lucca (piano), Santiago Cirmi (bandoneon), Manuel Villar Lifac (contrabass), Mauro Caracotche (drums) and Juan Pablo di Leone (transverse flute). Gabriel Wolff (viola), Emanuel Aguirrez (cello), Luis Caruana (bandoneon), Maia Perduca (flue) Emiliano Lorenz (bass), and Luciano Sellan (guitar) also appear on some tracks.
The compositions and their arrangements explore the narrative textures of contemporary jazz and rely on the rich and vivid tango history, yet they remain in the usual spectrum. The transverse flute and bandoneon as solo instruments are played elegantly and avoid the annoying melodic patterns that can be found quite often in jazz-oriented tango ensembles. That´s one of the strengths of this ensemble, they rely on their own music rather than making the 100th resuscitation of tango standards from the crypt. The musicians present these new compositions very cautiously and provide a beautifully relaxed atmosphere (even in the more energetic, drum-supported end of “Nuestras ilusiones”). No need to hurry – there’s time to get down to the essentials.
This music fits quite well to a comfortable café, but may be a challenge for non-professional tango dancers at the weekend milongas. For my part, I would prefer my café with the Juan Pablo de Lucca Quinteto!