Tango Paradiso in Buenos Aires
Visiting Buenos Aires is always an exciting and slightly daunting adventure. In 2005 we were awarded a grant from Arts Queensland, to make the CD, and collaborate with some of the best Argentinean tango musicians in Buenos Aires. So it was with some apprehension that Carla and I packed our instruments and ventured off to the great metropolis of tango. After all, on any given night people could listen to some of the best known bands and here we were, also hoping to have any opportunity to perform. However the first rehearsals with our brilliant pianist and arranger, Facundo, and his two colleagues were reassuring. They immediately opened their hearts to us in a way that was generous and moving, and we truly felt at home, despite language difficulties, and amusing misunderstanding. Those evenings spent in Facundo’s small rooftop studio, full of laughter, talk, and playing music together against the incessant noises of neighbours, cats and dogs, and the throb of traffic, were the most memorable and satisfying experiences for us.
Our first concert was at the Casa Del Tango. This great institution started by Osvaldo Pugliese as a home for tango, had featured some of the greatest names in tango. At the end of the concert, the reaction was immediate… the audience gave us a standing ovation!
Carla and I then had a wonderful experience performing solo with leading teachers and dancers, Diego Alvaro and Zoraida Fonteclara at a major tango festival held by Pulpo. The Saturday night was the gala closing ceremony. It was held in one of those magnificent old B.A. buildings whose atmosphere had reached a haunting perfection through layers of decay and neglect. During the seductive slow melody, I walked onto centre stage to join Diego and Zoraida. Since Diego and I are bald, Zoraida made the most of this opportunity to make eyes at both of us and perform a teasing and humorous dance around us. The audience loved its light hearted and witty character.
Our last performance was to be for a milonga at Confiteria Ideal. (Check out Sally Potters film ‘The Tango Lesson’ to appreciate the visual splendour of Ideal) We were to perform as a quintet, with the other 3 members of our B.A.version of the band. I looked proudly at our Tango Paradiso posters in Spanish on the wall, it seemed proof that we truly were in B.A. We were called in for a sound check around midday, and after sorting out the stage arrangement and sound balance, we decided to go home and rest for the performance later on. Just as we were leaving, we saw an official with 2 burly policemen pasting a sign at the entrance. It was an ominous red sign saying that the hall was condemned and being closed immediately by order of the city authorities!! Everyone stared in disbelief as the police began to usher people out of the building. Ideal was going to be closed down for who knows how long! It was a sort of tragic-comedy for us....why today just as we were about to perform? But there was nothing else but pack up our instruments and leave the building. This is the bitter-sweet of B.A. The unpredictable, crazy, ever seductive quality of this great city.
It was a joy to work with musicians steeped in the great tango tradition, and to finally work with a bandoneon player, something that is a rarity in Australia. This instrument gives the tango its authentic soul, and our quintet has never sounded better!
We were delighted with the rapport and friendships we developed with our colleagues, particularly Facundo Bericat, our arranger and pianist, and the insights we gained into the rich world of traditional and contemporary tango.
Xavier Sanchez, Facundo Bericat, Moshlo, Sergio Rivas and Carla Thackrah in Buenos Aires