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:

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:

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:

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: