Tango Quinteto El Después ‘Calles lejanas’ (Enja) 4/5

tango-quintetoFrench-based, but with a cosmopolitan multi-national line-up, El Después are a tango quintet that have been influenced by the classical tango tradition of Pugliese and Triollo as well as the more innovative explorations of Piazzolla. This is reflected in their overall approach, which reveals a strong classical bias, with the inclusion of French cellist Henri Demarquette, and the group is the brainchild of native Porteño (Buenos Aires) bandoneon player Victor Hugo Villena. Villena is part of a generation that grew up not automatically listening to tango and in fact in his personal case was more exposed to other folk music forms such as chamané. El Después is a formation that has been formed in tribute to a group that in turn was created way back in 1960 and the aim of the new group is perform music to be listened rather than danced to, though the two are not musically exclusive. Adding some welcome diversity to proceedings, vocalist Sandra Rumolina contributes on two non-standard pieces by Kurt Weill (both adapted to the French language) including ‘Youkali’ and ‘Je ne t’aime pas’. Rumolina has something of the commanding presence of Juliette Gréco in her voice and this lends an impressive extra dimension to the quintet sound. Indeed it would be a mouthwatering prospect to hear an entire album of the singer plus quintet devoted exclusively to the Kurt Weill songbook in the tango idiom. For dancers who know their milonga, the number ‘Ana de San Talmo’ should fit the bill to perfection and this is a deeply uplifting performance from the quintet. In a more reflective vein, the appropriately titled ‘Reflexiones’ features Villena on an extended bandoneon solo, but above all else it is the ensemble playing that shines through here.

Tim Stenhouse