Bajofondo’s 21st Century Tango

The brainchild of two-time Oscar-winner Gustavo Santaolalla (Best Score for Brokeback Mountain and Babel), Bajofondo (formerly Bajofondo Tango Club) fuses machine-generated beats with the traditional sounds of tango born of the Río de la Plata — the river separating Argentina and Uruguay. Experimenting with hip hop, rock and electronica, the band blazes new trails with relentlessly pulsing rhythms and layered sound textures.

But it isn’t all about the laptops; violinist Javier Casalla and bandoneonist Martin Ferres bring all the passion, intoxication, and surprise that you expect from great tango. It’s drama you can dance to. Their latest record, Mar Dulce, will be released in the U.S. next month and includes guest appearances by Elvis Costello, Nelly Furtado, and Japanese bandoneonist Ryota Komatsu.

You can listen to a live in-studio performance from KCRW’s excellent show Morning Becomes Eclectic, or download the track “Pa’ Bailar” below. And if you’re interested in more electronic/tango fusion, I definitely recommend checking out Gotan Project, one of the genre’s pioneers.

Daniel Binelli, Tango Master

Daniel BinelliOne of my coworkers caught the San Francisco Symphony’s free concert in Dolores Park on Sunday, which featured bandoneón virtuoso Daniel Binelli. Binelli is a seasoned tango veteran, having been a member of both Osvaldo Pugliese’s orchestra and Astor Piazzolla’s New Tango Sextet, touring extensively with the latter until Piazzolla’s death.

Today, Binelli often performs with symphonies, his own quintet, and as part of a duo with Uruguayan pianist Polly Ferman. A longtime friend of Piazzolla’s, Binelli is considered one of the primary torchbearers of the tango nuevo master’s musical legacy. Here’s a clip of Binelli interpreting Piazzolla’s classic “Adios Nonino”:

Saluzzi and Lechner’s Ojos Negros

Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner, Ojos NegrosNPR aired an excellent review yesterday of Ojos Negros, the new album by Argentinian bandoneon great Dino Saluzzi and German cellist Anja Lechner. Saluzzi and Lechner have been collaborating for years and play chamber music rooted in Argentinian folk traditions.

Their music floats between classical and jazz, combining the formal structure of Saluzzi’s compositions with intimate interplay and improvisation between the bandoneon and cello. They’re touring the United States this month, including a show during the “Compressing the World” accordion music series at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles.

You can listen to the full review on the NPR website: