Passionately soaring, thrilling, slithering violins, rolling piano, surging bandoneón, double bass, in lurching, hesitating rhythms… the sounds associated with tango. And indeed this is the traditional formation of a tango orchestra, an ‘orquesta típica’. But only one of the fifteen tracks here is an actual tango. All the rest are the zambas, cuecas, chacareras, escondido, rasguido doble and bailecito of rural Argentinian dance and song music, arranged for the orquesta típica line-up.
The melodies, and the four songs, are from the repertoires of a variety of Argentinian musicians and groups, including Los Hermanos Abalos, Atahualpa Yupanqui and Gustavo ‘Cuchi’ Leguizamon, plus a bonus track of a well-known cumbia by Juan Baena. The title track, referring to the carnival mask-makers of the the north-west province of Salta, is by Hilda Herrera.
Argentinian founder, leader and arranger of this Paris-based ensemble Alfonso Pacin plays guitar, violin and bombo, and is a sensitive, light-voiced singer, while the other seven musicians, joined by three guests including Argentinian bandoneonist Milagros Caliva, are an international mix. The playing and arrangements are brilliant, making gorgeous, day-brightening music full of catchy rhythmic twists and turns, complex but with instantly accessible charm.
Find the orquesta online.
Photo: Claire Petavy