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

Bandonegro: Hola Astor

A few months ago, a young man stood in front of my door and handed me the new CD from his ensemble Bandonegro: "Since we're playing in the area this evening, we brought it over right away." Wow. - The young Polish ensemble (bandoneon, violin, piano, double bass) has released its third CD with two guests from the Polish music scene (Dawid Kostka - electric guitar, Mateusz Brzostowski - drums). The musical level is outstanding and their joy of playing is difficult to ignore. They savor all the nuances of the 6 compositions by Astor Piazzolla and of the 5 songs written by their double bass player Marcin Antkowiak with passion. This is how contemporary tango should be: nothing more but pure fun.

The drummer, who interacts differently with the double bass player, brings the drive into pieces like “Fuga y Misteria”, and Jakub Czechowicz's violin and Michal Glowka's bandoneon bring the tender element that enriches the tasteful woven ‘canvas’ by piano and guitar. Piazzolla's “Soledad” is beautiful in every variant, here it is presented with great restraint. The dynamics of “Vayamos al Diablo” resemble a parkour ride, spurred on by the drums. The contrasting “Romance del Diablo” invites you to embrace the dance partner.

Their own compositions are not too obviously in the tradition of the Argentine bandoneon master. They have their own rhythmic and harmonic language, somewhere between contemporary tango and rock jazz. Their own songs have a natural beauty that never looks strained, but is logical and consistent. It is difficult to evade their ravishingly performed “Vislumbrar”. A great piece with a rocking, groovy pulse and beautiful melody that melts your heart.

I am already looking forward to more of their music, which will easily find its place in the scene. They got me on their side in no time at all.

Artist´s website: https://bandonegro.com

Montag, 9. November 2020

Tango de Minas: Non Típicas

 

The quintet Tango de Minas presents a wonderful album with a quite different sound. Indeed, non-typically, besides piano (Claudia Glocksin) and vocals (Ursula Cuesta), we hear a cello (Johanna Stein), a saxophone (Miriam Neuhaus) and drums (Gaby Jüttner). The drums support the arrangements by Claudia Glocksin very differentiated; saxophone and cello accentuate the melodic lines of the songs with their specific ‘unexpected’ sound. The song selection is tasteful: often-heard old evergreens (i.e., El Choclo, Los Mareados) are next to wonderful pearls from Astor Piazzolla (i.e. Oda para un Hippie, Chiquilín de Vachín), flavored with a strange ‘spice’, the wonderful song Satumaa by Finish composer Unto Mononen. Singer Ursula Cuesta interprets these songs with expressive dynamic. We believe her that passion and madness, grief and pain are close together and often go hand in hand. The arrangements underline this empathically. Maybe their different (female) perspective on the male-dominated tango requires a new sound, too. The ensembles cites the ‘idiosyncratic’ singer Tita Merello they want to pay tribute to. One should listen to “Se dice de mi” (written by Canaro and Pelay) which is interpreted similarly ‘exaggerated’. Perhaps it is meant emancipatory, perhaps it is only a reversed cliché. Maybe the same songs have different sites and it is worth to notice them all: Love is a complicated thing. Anyway, this ensemble has an exciting non-typical ‘classical’ sound, and musically explores the range of emotions found in the different tango compositions. Very touching – and danceable!

Artist´s website: https://tangodeminas.com/

Mittwoch, 1. Januar 2020

Sexteo Cristal: Loca de amor


One year later, the Sexteto Cristal is out with their second album, Loca de amor, again with Guillermo Rozenthuler as a pleasantly restrained guest singer. Their approach is similar: Attract the audience with beautiful nostalgic tango music which reminds us that the ‘Golden Age’ of tango is gone, but that we long with our hearts back to a time that was never ours.
Maja Hunziker and Rupert Dintinger (violins), Christian Gerber and Michael Dolak (bandoneons), Anna-Maria Huhn (double bass) and Fernando Bruguera (piano) convince with 14 passionate and dynamic interpretations of songs which are not the ever-same evergreens; nevertheless, they are very pleasant,have fine melodies and a clear beat which is easy to follow. Their four valses are mostly simple but effective, and their interpretation of three milongas and seven tangos is lively and suited to please contemporary listeners´ expectations. Their arrangements refer to the primary tango orchestras, and often Rupert Dintinger has transcribed the melodic phrases directly from original recordings to adapt them for the sextet. As an active dancer by himself, the violinist underlines that danceability 
is a very important criterion.
The milonga “La vida es una milonga” (by Fernando Montoni & Rodolfo Sciammarella) could easily be compared with the version of the Orquesta tipica Pedro Laurenz with their singer Martín Podestá. The 1941 version is a bit faster and more ‘rolling’, and Martín Podestá difficult to compare with Guillermo Rozenthuler anyway; nevertheless, the 2019 version has its own beauty. Compared to Lucio Demare´s version of “No te apures Carablanca” (by Roberto Harza & Carlos Bahr) Sexteto Cristal´s version is more relaxed and maybe a bit more passionate in their melodic arches; however, this is difficult to judge and probably a matter of taste. Here I like more the warm and sensitive interpretation of Guillermo Rozenthuler rather than that of Juan Carlos Miranda. Some of these direct comparisons make it clear that the Sexteto Cristal is doing quite a good job to catch the ‘magic’ of the old tango orchestras. In fact, that´s what makes the Sexteto Cristal special and worth it.

Artist´s website: www.tangocristal.net