Imagine a tango orchestra of really young and talented musicians, forming a small orquesta típica with members ranging from the age of 10-14. Three bandoneóns, three violins, double bass and piano. Playing tango, and not only Piazzolla. Playing together for several years to get the music under their skin. Where would this happen if not in Buenos Aires?
In Norway! In a cold small town in the middle of nowhere, or in the heart of Norway as some would say. Up in the northern desert, they call themselves _Tangueros del Norte. _The orchestra was formed back in 2003, and they just released their debut album, which is called Inspiración, released December 8 2008.
The orchestra is the ultimate result of the work of the bandoneón player Kåre Jostein Simonsen, who started teaching bandoneón in the municipality music school. He had a vision about how great it would be to create a real tango orchestra and play the great arrangements of Pugliese… He gathered his talented bandoneón-players and searched for other talented youngsters to complete the orchestra, and the rest as they say, is history.
Twice they have been to Buenos Aires to learn, and even if they impressed very early, they have grown considerably over the years. Their musical travel has been documented in a film by Mari Lunden Nilsen, called Lidenskapens skole (The school of passion). The film was shown at the 2008 Kosmorama film festival, and will be broadcasted on Norwegian national TV (TV2) December 26. The film shows how these youngsters have grown up together and not just as musicians.
The young musicians have taken over more and more control of the artistic development, and the only regret, seen from a dancer’s perspective, is that they are (like most other tango players) completely uninterested in playing for dancing. Because they believe it is too simple. And that is a pity, as they have great potential, but lack a feeling for the “swing” (what would be a good word for this?) of tango. As many other classically trained musicians, they think that tango allows them to be sloppy, which to some degree is correct, but when they are not sloppy in the right manner and the right places, the result is – well sloppy. This is particularly evident in the Piazzolla composition _Libertango, _where they are sometimes way off tempo, without it adding anything to the interpretation. They are simply off, and it is disturbing. Playing fast is simply not enough, it is supposed to be fast and precise.
Don’t get me wrong – the record in total has come off quite well, particularly taking into consideration how young they all are. The oldest have just started their education in music academies. One of the most interesting tracks is Vino y se fue, a tango written to the lead violinist Viktor Stenhjem by the composer Sverre Indris Joner of Electrocutango fame. And in this piece the violinist really shines. The title track Inspiración and Sumblime fantasía are also very nice. Libertango as already mentioned, does not convince me.
Well recorded and with some very fine tracks, Inspiración is overall well worth a listen. Actually it is really better than most non-Argentine tango records. And being a orquesta típica makes the sound much fuller than most tango orchestras around, which are often trios, quartets or quintets. If you have the opportunity to experience them live: go!
It will be very interesting to see what comes next from this tango orchestra, and I am sure we will hear more from them, both in Tangueros del Norte and in other settings.