Feature: Tango – Café de los Maestros & Friends

Friday 31 July 2015 by Siobhan Murphy

Gloria and Eduardo.
Photo: Daniela Pereiro

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Tango enthusiast Siobhan Murphy reviews:

The Café de los Maestros project was started back in 2004 by Gustavo Santaolalla and Gustavo Mozzi as a Buena Vista style collective movement looking to celebrate the sounds and stars of the ‘golden age’ tango from the 1940s and ’50s. A double album, book, film, world tour and two Latin Grammys later, the Café is still going strong (although some of the legends it brought together are no longer with us) and gets an airing at this recorded event at Buenos Aires’ El Palacio dance hall.

A tango extravaganza comprised of four parts, it opens with a Café de los Maestros section of lush orchestral delights (the obligatory La Cumparsita included), a wobbly appearance from the great Juan Carlos Godoy, singing Gardel’s Por Una Cabeza and José ‘Pepe’ Colángelo at the piano for his own composition, Todos Los Suenos.

Gloria and Eduardo Arquimbau, of Tango Argentino fame, take to the floor for Pedro Maffia’s Taconeando, showcasing exemplary milonguero style and some blistering footwork. But it soon becomes apparent that the dance side of tango is not what’s going to take centre stage here (the fact that none of the dancers are credited in the liner notes was an initial big tip-off).

In fact, the baile dries up during the second section of the evening – the seductively intimate playing of the Rodolfo Mederos Trio – and it’s only at the end of a rather thrilling set of Astor Piazzolla numbers (reuniting iconic violist Fernando Suárez Paz and chamamé folk singer Teresa Parodi) that another couple perform. To the strains of the original arrangement of Piazzolla’s much-loved Libertango, Alejandra Armenti and Daniel Juárez put on a ‘tango for export’ style, impressively knicker-flashing display which, typically, becomes more like a circus act as it goes along.

Then it’s time for the modern-day electrotango of Otros Aires, who add strange percussion and a laptop to the mix, and play in white boiler suits. It’s rousing stuff, and we get two performances from Maricel Giacomini and Luis Solanas: the first, to Los Vino, sees Solanas employ a rather skilful ‘drunken tango’ style that lets the couple innovatively demonstrate tango nuevo’s out-of-hold moves; the second sees Mario Rizzo join them with his strange but beguiling solo tango blended with locking/popping street dance.

It’s not the most attractively filmed concert you’ll ever see: too many shots of a strangely scruffy-looking audience, and women soulfully mouthing the words of their favourite songs, and no sensitivity to filming dance performances. But it is nonetheless an enjoyable display of tango music’s evolution and innovation, letting tangueros absorb a masterclass in how its sounds and rhythms have metamorphosed with the changing times.

Siobhan Murphy is a freelance writer and editor, who also contributes to Dancetabs and Time Out. Find her on Twitter @blacktigerlily

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