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Hakon Skogstad: 8 Concepts of Tango

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Hakon Skogstad: 8 Concepts of Tango
Any time an instrumental group includes a bandoneon in the lineup, that provides a pretty good idea as to where its sentiments lie. Norwegian-born pianist Hakon Skogstad includes not one but two bandoneons in his octet, and as if that were not enough in the way of a definitive clue, has named his latest album 8 Concepts of Tango.

Skogstad, to state the obvious, is wedded to the tango, a conclusion to which his half-dozen earlier albums attest. This is not tango as a change of pace; this is tango to its core, encompassing in part the past, present and future of the sensuous Argentinian dance. There is variety here, and imagination, and passion—but in the end, it remains tango, readily recognized by its distinctive rhythms and ardent motifs—not to mention those accordion-like bandoneons.

As far as can be determined, Skogstad and his companions play the music quite well, which is the album's primary selling point. Those who love to dance the tango, or listen to the tango, should find this a most captivating and pleasurable experience. Skogstad—who wrote and arranged everything—guides the listener through the growth and development of the dance, pointing to what it has been, what it is and what it may become. Past and present are mirrored in "Retroreflections," while "Tango contra Tango" was inspired by classical music counterpoint.

Credit must be given to the ensemble, which includes those bandoneons, played flawlessly by Andreas Rokseth and Asbjorg Ryeng, as well as violins Svelnung Lillebjerka and Anders Larsen, viola Bergmund Waaf Skaslien, cello Marit Aspaas and bass Ole Schoyen Sjolin. As noted, they perform the tango as well as one could wish—but the fact remains that it is tango, not jazz. True, there is some improvisation, but not the kind that is usually associated with more traditional jazz discourse.

Having said that, it must be noted that Skogstad and his octet are very good at what they do, which is playing and interpreting the tango. High marks for that, even though 8 Concepts of Tango offers precisely that and no more.

Track Listing

Caserón Porteño; Retroreflections; A Contemplative Rhapsody; Tango contra Tango; The Anvil; Romance Para Ocho; Battaglia; Lamento.

Personnel

Album information

Title: 8 Concepts of Tango | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Øra Fonogram


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