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Quadro Nuevo & Tango Crash: Two Takes on Tango

Michael McCaw By

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One old and one new, Justin Time has released two records attempting to deal with tango music at its core with varying degrees of success. Neither approaches the music in the same manner as, say, Astor Piazzolla, but through either acoustic or electronic instruments, they attempt to communicate with the same soul.

Quadro Nuevo
Luna Rossa
Justin Time Records
2005

A reissue of their debut album and opening with a lilting and uplifting tune bearing the same title of the CD, Quadro Neuvo lays itself bare from the onset and rarely deviates from its core sound. Comprised of saxophonist Mulo Francel, guitarist Robert Wolf, accordionist Heinz-Ludger Jeromin, and bassist D.D. Lowka, this core sound is based on a bright playful tone that bears more sweetness than burning flame. Even a composition such as Iben Ahbez's "Nature Boy loses its dark luster of drama in favor of a more colorful and bouncy treatment.

Luna Rossa is nonetheless an enjoyable listen in a certain mindset. All four musicians are fully capable of carrying the lead, but more often than not the bass plays a traditional role of keeping a strict time while the accordion lays a swaying bed for the guitar and saxophone to float above like playful birds. Francel particularly shows himself to be an adept player with an airy tone that rises and falls with great ease.

Whether playing originals, covers, or German cinema music, Quadro Neuvo's Luna Rossa has its moments of beauty such as the episodic "Impressions d'un Rêve ; however, more often than not, there is too much sugar to recommend this album as more than a confectionery desert.

Tango Crash
Tango Crash
Justin Time Records
2005

Another tango-based album, Tango Crash is a self-titled debut that attempts to integrate electronics into this most emotional and visceral musical style. Inspired and formed following a meeting in 1987 between pianist David Almada and cellist Martin Iannaccone in Buenos Aires, in which both found themselves fond of the idea to merge traditional tango with electronic music in a more organic way, the results found here feature a sound more often than not based around the melodicism of the cello from which everything else builds.

Varied in sound and in end results almost every time, Tango Crash is an album that makes a strong case for this type of musical amalgamation. Such an example would be the engrossing "Milonga para Alberto, where Iannaccone's cello sets the melody and tone for Almada's keyboards to surround, soon raising to the top amidst a bed of sound consisting of organs and voices. As the song builds momentum through sparse electronic percussion and voice it is obvious that this is nothing like the traditional sound of tango, yet it adheres to the same sense of self and drama—especially when the darting theme re-enters, performed in unison on cello, keys, drums, and bandoneon.

Often times, the emotional content suffers from a lack of technical prowess to communicate it. Although neither of these groups have any lack of faculty, Quadro Nuevo suffers in presenting nothing but light-hearted fare. Tango Crash, on the other hand, presents a merging of two musical worlds that more often than not finds considerable success and bears further listening.


Luna Rossa

Personnel: Mulo Francel: Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, C-Melody Saxophone, Bass Clarinet; Robert Wolf: Guitar, Octave Guitar; Heinz-Ludger Jeromin: Accordion; D.D. Lowka: Acoustic Bass, Fretless Bass, Udu Drum; William Galison: Harmonica (6,17).

Tracks: Luna Rossa; Nature Boy; Kommissar Maigret; Te Reto A Ser Mi Amante; Für Pauline; Our Spanish love Song; Impressions d'un Rêve: Tango; Impressions d'un Rêve: Valse Lento; Impressions d'un Rêve: Valse Vivace; Bonsoir Juliette; Bei Dir War Es Immer So Schön; El Paño Moruno; Il Sorriso D'Amor; Flor De La Noche; Susannata; Gracias A La Vida; Allez, Glissez!

Tango Crash

Personnel: Daniel Almada: Piano & Programming; Martin Iannaccone: Cello & Programming; Rodrigo Dominguez: Soprano Saxophone; Marcio Doctor: Percussion; Gabriel Rivano: Bandoneon; Pomo Tapia: Bandoneon; Lopecito: Voice Collage (track 8); Santiago Vazquez: Percussion (track 3).

Tracks: La Yumba; Milonga para Alberto; Red Love; El Choclo; Desde Lejos; Pararrango; Remis; Dj Peron; La Yumba (Remix).

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