Thursday, July 02, 2009


Tango Actual Returns; Astillero at the Montreal Jazz Festival, Joe's Pub (NYC)

Between a new baby, finishing my dissertation, and working a new teaching job, it has been quite a complicated year for me, and the blog has unfortunately fallen by the wayside. Now that the proverbial dust has begun to settle, however, I hope to make more regular updates to the site. Stay tuned for more record reviews, news, and announcements from the world of contemporary tango music as I hear and hear of it.

This first announcement is that it looks like it is going to be another exciting year for contemporary tango at the Montreal Jazz Festival, following last year's showings by Melingo and the Orquesta Tipica Imperial. Astillero, a sextet of two bandoneones, two strings, piano and bass plus occasional vocalist that is at the very heart of the contemporary tango scene in Buenos Aires, is going to be playing two free shows on the festival's main outdoor stage the night of July 4th. The group plays only original compositions, something that is still relatively rare in Buenos Aires today, and their sound, which they describe as "the tango of rupture," is something to behold: bold, brash, and violent, drained of the nostalgia that fuels so much tango while still remaining a wonderfully Romantic (with a capital "R"). But don't let the sometimes shocking surface of their music fool you: their work has a formal sophistication that stands up to repeated listenings (it in fact gets better after repeated listenings, so attend both sets if you can) and an elaborate gestural vocabulary that is clearly rooted in an orthodox musical history of the genre. I will post a more detailed review of their work here in the coming weeks, and would love to hear from anyone who makes it to their show in Montreal (I, unfortunately, will not be there), but in the meantime I hope people can take advantage of this rare opportunity to hear one of Buenos Aires's really vital groups outside of Argentina.

Also: Astillero at Joe's Pub in NYC, Sunday July 5th, 9.30 pm. Not to be missed.

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