Welcome to Argentina week on Musical Pairings. If you’ve read any of our posts last month, you know that Kasey and I were away on our honeymoon in Argentina. And in honor of our honeymoon, we are going to highlight food and music that we feel is representative of our experience in the three different regions of Argentina we visited: Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Salta. As you can imagine, we have a lot of great food and music to share from our adventures there. For my part, I searched far and wide to uncover as much great music in Argentina as I could. As Kasey can attest, I asked almost everyone I met about what music was popular in Argentina: cab drivers, guides, waiters, hotel staff, people I met on Twitter, people we met at the airport, and the people working in all of the shops we visited. “¿Quién es su músico preferido?” I received a lot of great recommendations, and a lot of great music: Jaime Torres, Gustavo Cerati, Larenga, No Te Va A Gustar, La Bersuit, Los Nocheros, Bajofondo Tango Club and Patricio Rey y Sus to list a few examples. But in my mind, tango is Buenos Aires’ gift to the world. And of course, I dug through crates of records in antique shops in San Telmo and record stores on Av Corrientes in search of choice cuts of vinyl. And as a result, one of my favorite souvenirs from Buenos Aires is my copy of Astor Piazzolla’s Tango Para Una Ciudad. An album that just sounds like Buenos Aires.
Astor Piazzolla is a bandoneon (an accordian-like instrument frequently used in tango) player, a song-writer/composer, and is well-known in Argentina for revolutionizing tango. As the godfather of nuevo tango, Piazzolla infused traditional tango music with elements of jazz and classical music. Tango Para Una Ciudad was released in 1963, and is an excellent example of the way he managed to successfully marry tango and jazz. And “El Mundo De Los Dos” which features vocals by Hector de Rosas is almost palpably melancholy. The vocal work is beautifully highlighted by a female chorus, and the composition allows Hector de Rosas voice to float gently through the song’s instrumentation. The track “Buenos Aires Hora Cero” is both sophisticated and quirky. It is restrained and noiseless in a way that allows the instruments to reverberate across the sonic landscape thereby calling to mind city night life in what is probably one of the most European of South American cities. There isn’t a bad song on the entire album, but other favorites for me include the title-tracks, as well as, “Cafetin de Buenos Aires” and “Iracundo.”