Dienstag, 26. April 2016

Otros Aires: Perfect tango

Waiting for a new Otros Aires album is always a difficult task. I think of all those all the well-known tracks, some associated with specific memories. I remember Miguel di Genova´s contagious cheerfulness during a life performance. – Then, I became aware that ten new songs are going to be released, and that I would have the chance to hear them very early. Wow. It is clear that I began with a positive bias. 
At the first, we hear the typical groove oriented Otros Aires songs with Miguel´s distinctive voice, Diego Ramos´s elegant piano, Martin Paladin´s drums, and two alternating bandoneon player, namely Matias Rubino and Ernesto Chino Molina. Musical director Miguel di Genova adds guitar flavor, and - of course - electronica effects.  
“Solo esta noche” charms the listener with the voice of Afghan-Irish singer-songwriter Meghan Kabir. This duet track was written by Megha Kabir, Fin Dow-Smith and Miguel di Genova. It definitely has something special. Also the Grace Jones cover “I´ve seen that face before”, the pop version of Piazzolla´s “Libertango”, is convincing in its own way. While the amazon´s version is subtley aggressive and more direct, the new version is very relaxed. All the others songs are written by Otros Aires´s mastermind, Miguel. They follow a proven and tested formulation - great grooves enriched with discreet electronica effects, a solid piano fundament, characteristic bandoneon lines, and basic melodies which lure the electro tango fans on the dance floor. “Amor o nada” is one of these tracks with a compelling hiphop beat. “Bailando sin paraiso” and “Perro Viejo” are tempting dancefloor seducer with addictive potential. 
The American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou is cited on the backcover: “Everything in the universe has rhythm, everything dances”. She knew “why the caged bird sings”, Otros Aires have opened the cage doors.

Sonntag, 17. April 2016

Tango Fusión: A los amigos

A chamber music quartet (i.e., Lothar Hensel, bandoneon; Dragan Radosavievich, violin; Ulf Borgwardt, violoncello; Oliver Potratz, double bass) and their friends are playing a selection of rather old, modern and also new tangos. Apart from the songs of Astor Piazzolla, Horacio Salgan, José Luis Padula, Armando Pontier and Nestor Marconi, for this project mastermind and arranger Lothar Hensel asked contemporary tango composers to contribute a characteristic song. Miguel Varvello (bandoneon), Jorge Retamoza (baritone saxophone), Ramiro Gallo (violin), Luis Borda (guitar), Saúl Cosentino (piano), and Andrés Gavaida (vocals, guitar) did agree and send sheet music which as the basis for the recording process of the quartet. Then they were invited as guest musicians for their songs, too. For Lothar Hensel´s song “Freunde y Amigos” we hear the quartet together with Ramiro Gallo, Luis Borda, Miguel Varvello and Jorge Retamoza - who recorded their audio tracks independently and send it to the musicians in Berlin who mixed them. That´s how modern live changes collaboration processes.
Be prepared that this chamber music fusion quartet surprises the listener with fascinating facets of contemporary tango music – even the bit older pieces of music come along with new and colored clothes made available by arranger Lothar Hensel.
Several of the new tracks are worth to recommend: “Un amigo en Berlin” by Jorge Retamoza with its dynamic melodic and rhythmic complexity, baritone saxophone accents and a `cool groove´ right in the middle, “Lautatro” by Ramiro Gallo with its sugar-sweet violin lines and a relaxed pulse of the double bass, “Hoja otoñal” by Andrés Gavaida with its picked violin and guitar arrangement, and a wonderful chorus sung by the composer with his warm and pleasant voice, “Controversia” by Miguel Varvello with atmospheric melodies brought forward by the disputing bandoneon, violin and cello, “Tango de los muertos” by Luis Borda with jazzy guitar voicings and a fascinating melody progression, “Carismático” by Saúl Cosentino with piano and bandoneon solos and wonderful melodies by violin and cello which invite to dance. 
For me, TangoFúsion´s album is among the outstanding productions within the last years: Dynamic virtuosity and bitter-sweet passion.

Mittwoch, 13. April 2016

Quadro Nuevo: Tango

There is this tenderly, jazzy lounge saxophone playing this song we all know quite well, a piano caressing the beautiful melody, a bandoneon, a contrabass, and a grand concert harp... playing “Por una cabeza”. Maybe we would expect some more violins, and the voice of Carlos Gardel. But no, what Quadro Nuevo play is quite different from what we may expect. That´s what happens when musicians from Munich decide to give their music a try in Buenos Aires, and get this virulent infection with the tango virus: They may find their own way to interpret the tango.

Of course the Quadro Nuevo musicians already do have a story, they are no newcomers, they already have played tangos before . They described their early sound as rather European than Argentinian, i.e., a bit flamenco, a bit Italiana, a bit 60th jazz. Then in 2014 they made this trip to Buenos Aires, get in contact with the dancers, played with local musicians, talked all nights long, drank some red wine – and they were prepared for this album “inspired by Buenos Aires”.

We hear Mulo Francel (saxophone, clarinet, guitar), D.D. Lowka (contrabass, percussion), Andreas Hinterseher (bandoneon, accordion, vibrandoneon), Evelyn Huber (grand concert harp, salterio), and Chris Gall (Piano) playing songs ranging from classical tango evergreens such as “La Cumparsita”, “Por una cabeza”, “Volver” or “El Día Que Me Quieras” to new songs writtten by the ensemble´s musicians Mulo Francel, D.D. Lowka, Andreas Hinterseher and Chris Gall. Fifteen inspired tango and milonga interpretations with lot of playfulness on the one hand (i.e., Mariano Mores´s vibrant “Taquito Militar”), and with sensitive melancholia on the other hand (the beautiful “El Titiritero” by pianist Chris Gall).

On the first take it is strange to hear the sound of a jazzy saxophone as a lead instrument playing tango tunes, but then is turns to be one of the trademarks of this great ensemble  adding a unique color which makes the difference.

A further plus: For those who like lovingly designed albums, the booklet has some great photographs of the ensemble playing in Buenos Aires, atmospheric views and curious situations, and informative explanations to their songs. Not surprisingly, their 2015 album received the German Jazz Award by the German Phono Society!