Wonderful to hear Color Tango in London at Negracha on Friday night, an orquesta with the whole history of tango behind it. It's very much a Pugliese-era band, all the rending dissonances, complex rhythms, and lyricism too, of Pugliese. And although dancing at Negracha on Friday wasn't easy as the floor was very crowded, not only with dancers but also with people standing to get a view of the band, of course it was a real treat to dance to. Another problem for dancers was that there was a lot of talking, people shouting above each other to be heard while the band was playing, so the sound at the back of the room wasn't great. A pity it couldn't have been held at Conway Hall, which would have been big enough, although it wouldn't have had the same intimate club-like feel to it. A real feast of great sound, real tango and of the highest quality.
There seem to be three orquestas, led and trained by bandoneonistas of an older generation. Color Tango was founded in 1989 by Roberto Alvarez, first bandoneon of Osvaldo Pugliese's orchestra, and is still led by him. Emilio Balcarce, who played violin with the Donato orquesta and later was bandoneonista and arranger with Pugliese, was invited to form and lead the Orquesta Escuelo de Tango about eight years ago: the orquesta has since been renamed after him. & Rodolfo Mederos, a bandoneonista who played with Piazzolla and Pugliese has led his own orquesta tipica, among other groupings and solo performances. Between them, these have trained a new generation of musicians.
Tango is a dance music that's avoided percussion. When it does get used (Fresedo's cymbals, for instance)it sounds out of place. The musicians have learned to play more percussively, and also incredibly closely as an ensemble, so that even when the whole orquesta marginally slows the beat, or speeds up, the beat is absolutely clear, and entirely characteristic of tango. Good tango is ensemble playing of the highest order. Thanks for the music, Color Tango.
PS. There are five complete Color Tango albums you can listen to for free on Spotify.