Dienstag, 26. Juli 2022

Wolfgang Haffner: Kind of Tango

An established jazz musician with impressive musical references goes on a musical journey of discovery with jazz musicians from his ensemble. Within his "Kind of..." series, Wolfgang Haffner has now arrived at tango. The drummer and composer and his "trusted" collaborators Lars Danielsson (bass and cello) from Sweden and Christopher Dell (vibraphone) from Darmstadt, but also other musicians like Simon Oslender (piano) and Ulf Wakenius (guitar) have written 8 new pieces, which are somehow some “kind of tango". They play with the basic elements and create something new - interpreted as jazz pieces whose melodic, harmonic and rhythmic structures leave plenty of room for wonderful improvisational excursions. Rodríguez's classic "La Cumparsita" is not recognizable at first glance, and Piazzolla's "Libertango" is also different than expected (it turned out to be too "loungy" for me). Two other pieces by Piazzolla ("Close your Eyes and Listen" and "Chiquilín de Bachín") fit well into the musicians' excursions, because 70 years ago Piazzolla dared to go in the opposite direction into jazz.

Is that jazz or is it a bit of tango? - Hard to say. The boundaries are clearly blurred. Both are there and intertwined. It is a pleasure to accompany the voyage of discovery. There are wonderful new pieces one can enjoy listening spellbound as the musicians interpret the motifs further. Great guest musicians such as Bill Evans (no, not the jazz veteran, but the saxophonist), Vincent Peirani (accordion), Lars Nilsson (flugelhorn) and Sebastian Studnitzly (trumpet) calmly set their outstanding accents, so that there is no tonal boredom (as one may feeling while listening to some other tango ensembles). It can be assumed that the musicians really don't care whether the 'locos del tango' let themselves be lured onto the dance floor or whether they stand on the edge with their arms crossed. It would be quite sad for the dancers to remain stubborn, as they would miss wonderful songs like "Respiro", "Tango Magnifique", "Tres Hermanos" and "Recuerdos" (featuring Peirani's accordion and Danielsson's double bass solo) or the deeply sad but wonderful " Chiquilin de Bachín”. – Jazz can be exciting too!

Artist´s website: https://wolfganghaffner.de/

Andrés Linetzky´s Vale Tango: My Choice

To get straight to the point: I admire Andrés Linetzkys as a pianist, composer and arranger. His work as musical director of the ensemble around Ariel Ardit have made me listen, with which love for the simple and unexcited he arranges old and new tangos and lets them breathe again.

On this current selection, looking back over several decades, he presents 20 live recordings from different stages in his life as a musician: 14 pieces with his sextet Tango Vale (five of them with the singer Lidia Borsa), four with the quintet Tangata Rea and two with the trio The Linetzky Family, where the Klezmer background comes into play. His rich performance experience can be seen in these songs: wonderfully nostalgic arrangements that are still not outdated ‘dusty`, and invite the dancers onto the dance floor of a ballroom. His composition “Supermilonga” with its wonderful chorus would also delight samba fans. Those who don't come out on the dance floor (or at least tap their feet "inwardly") don't feel anything anymore. One of the few other´s compositions is “La cautiva” by Carlos Vincente Geroni Flores, which has been around for a century, but is still wonderfully effective. The moving “Entonces”, composed to a text by María Elena Walsh, is an emotional high-altitude flight that also knows depth. The dreamy “Las huellas en el mar” evaporates far too easily. Linetzky's piano intro in “Todas las mananas con mis reinas” is wonderfully ‘easily’ and leaves room for the strings and bandoneons of his ensemble to unfold their melodic arcs - as a wonderfully interacting ensemble, they enchant the audience. Yet, there is also: “Chaly”, which is dedicated to the bandoneonist Carlos Corrales, initially comes across as impulsive and dynamic and makes the dancers sweat, lets them breathe deeply in between with a more subdued Piazzollaesque mood and then drives them back on. This is the full life in all its dynamics, pushed to 4:04 minutes.

For me, some recordings could have remained in the gracious darkness of the past: “Belz” is rather problematic at the beginning in terms of intonation. The same applies to “El amanecar” from the 1997 album “Tango Vivo! - Noches De Buenos Aires”. - Still, that doesn't spoil the pleasure of listening to a wonderful musician who has clearly shown that tango orchestras have their special magic and are ‘relevant to hope’.


Samstag, 15. Mai 2021

Bandonegro & Martorell: Tangostoria

Six months after their trip to Buenos Aires, the Polish quartet Bandonegro (with bandoneon, violin, piano, and double bass) was obviously very inspired and they recorded 12 classical and nuevo tangos from the old masters (i.e., Troilo, Demare, Melfi, Salgán, Piazzolla). We all know these songs in their different versions, and we are nevertheless pleased when we hear them again: Old friends who come over for a short talk, a smile and a friendly reminder that we have shared so many wonderful moments. And we are happy when we meet them again – now accompanied by this outstanding ensemble who invited the wonderful singer Andrés Martorell to tell the old stories anew. Listen to their version of Lucio Demare´s “Malena” or Astor Piazzolla´s “Chiquilín de Bachín”: You are directly touched, taken into the dark night somewhere in Buenos Aires where life breathes in all its fullness: Wonderful and sad at the same time. But there is always hope in their music, which invites us to cry and laugh, and embrace us.

The five musicians are extraordinary, wonderful in tone and dynamics. Pure fun to listen what they are doing. For me, one of the best tango albums of the last years. Their passion and energy, the sophistication and richness of their interpretations leaves a deep impression. Wow. What more could we expect from these musicians?

Artist´s website: Bandonegro.com

Donnerstag, 8. April 2021

Sulle rive del Tango: Milonga Made

"On the banks of the Tango" you can expect ... Exactly, tango. But what can be heard on the sampler probably feels more comfortable in the drawer of ‘world music‘, as it is non-tango, to which one could nevertheless dance tango, too. - Maybe you just have to approach the selection differently. In the cover picture we see the belly of a pregnant woman in side view: "Milonga Mother". Perhaps the selection of the 18 pieces of mainly European interpreters is based on the idea of surprising one another and get involved in something new?

The individual songs are from different musical genres, regions and languages that make the appeal for me. I would like to highlight "Addicted" by Klaus Waldeck with the singer Zeebee, who stands out with a subtle hip-hop groove and an elegant clarinet solo. Or the restrained "Egentlig En Danser" by the Norwegian Kari Bremnes, who always captivates me: Indeed, “actually I am a dancer”. Beautiful! Yasmin Levi from Jerusalem contributes "Una noche más". Her Sephardic songs leave the tango dancers hardly untouched. The pop singer Caro Emerald from the Netherlands bluntly declares "I know that he's mine" and meets the dancers with this offbeat. The Italian Floriana "FLO" Cangiano can also convince with the striding "A ne tient pas la route" and a melodically beautiful chorus.

Tango feeling comes up with the Serbian Beltango Quintet, which shows with Hugo Diaz's "Milonga para una armonica" what makes a beautiful tango. Miguel di Genova grooves with the Bulgarian-Italian Chalga Band, and Amores Tango contribute the milonga "Mulatada". La Tipica Senata succeeds in reinterpreting Snoop Dog's "Y'all gonna mis me" as a beautiful (instrumental) tango. And the Italian Trio Orchestra Joubés pleases with the floating "La neve sottile", which invites to a gentle dance "on a thin snow cover".

Many tracks on the sampler of the label Agualoca Records (which regards itself as an indie world music label) have a magic you would like to be touched by, others leave me cold. Perhaps one should simply remain curious about how the Tango child will develop in the circle of his many relatives.

Label´s website: www.agualocarecords.com

Cuarteto Tango Bravo: Milonga Soñada

Pianist and composer Robert Schmidt presents 14 of his tango compositions, together with Michael Dolak (bandoneon), Stephanie Gonsior (violin) and Tomas Rösler (double bass) as Cuarteto Tango Bravo. The fact that danceability is in the forefront of most their songs cannot be ignored. The quartet´s musical quality is not even up for debate.

What we hear is a colorful collection of excellently recorded pieces that provide dancers and tango DJs with new material. Everything sounds familiar, doesn't deviate too much from what you like anyway. One may be reminded of good lion in the zoo, which has been loved over the years and of which one hardly suspects that it once had teeth. Exactly these ‘exciting’ moments could be more: tango with edges and corners, which is also emotional.

"Tercero" is one of those special songs that stands out through a breakdown to the middle, in which bandoneon and violin develop their melody arcs beautifully slowly and thus touch deeply before the song picks up speed again. It is precisely this unexpected that attracts. "Tanguedia 8422" with its rhythmic accent is another surprising song (with Astor Piazzolla lurking around the corner) that leaves room for the pianist´s beautiful solo parts. At the latest at the closing song "Milonga Soada" Piazzolla beckons clearly from the front row, because he will surely remember his highlights in terms of mood, structure, melody and phrasing. Especially "Tercero" and "Milonga Soada" make it clear how high Piazzolla has raised the bar and what gap he has left in the tango scene.

But Robert Schmidt doesn't even make the mistake of leaning too much on the role model, and is looking for his own language, which is pleasing and danceable. It is foreseeable that the quartet will be a welcome guest at many milongas.

Artist´s website: https://robert-schmidt.de/cuarteto-tango-bravo