Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Bandonegro – Hola Astor (2019)


Michał Główka - bandoneon
Jakub Czechowicz - violin
Marek Dolecki - piano
Dawid Kostka - guitar
Marcin Antkowiak - double bass
Mateusz Brzostowski - drums

Hola Astor

SJ 043

By Adam Baruch

This is the third album by Polish Tango ensemble Bandonegro, which consists of bandoneónist Michał Główka, violinist Jakub Czechowicz, pianist Marek Dolecki and bassist Marcin Antkowiak. On this album the quartet was expanded to a sextet with the addition of two young Polish Jazz players, guitarist Dawid Kostka and drummer Mateusz Brzostowski. The album presents eleven tracks, six of which are compositions by Astor Piazzolla and five are original compositions by Antkowiak, all arranged by the ensemble. The album was recorded at the celebrated Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki with the usual spectacular sound quality.

Bandonegro formed in 2016 and over time established an international reputation with tours around the world, including Argentina, the cradle of Tango. Musically this album takes the ensemble closer to the Nuevo Tango of Piazzolla and its proximity to Jazz. Both the ensemble's interpretation of Piazzolla's compositions and even more so their original compositions are remarkable, especially in view of the idiosyncrasy of the Tango, which one does not expect to be performed authentically by East European musicians, who have culturally nothing in common with the original idiom. Bandonegro prove that love of the music and talent are able to conquer the seemingly impassable cultural gap, which enables them to sound as bona fide Tango performers.

The addition of the Jazz elements is very subtle and quite elegant, and does not impede the natural Tango spirit of the music. To the trained ear, the original compositions by Antkowiak, which constitute the more Jazzed up portion of the album, hide also some understated elements of Slavic origin, which of course is a fascinating element of the music. Whatever this music misses in Argentinean passion, it more than pays back in elegance and subtlety of European origin.

Overall this is a superb album, full of great compositions and superb performances, passionately executed and intelligently put together. For Tango connoisseurs this is an absolute must, but even listeners who would not usually listen to Tango music, this album is both special and beautiful enough to win them over. As a great lover of the Tango I can't help but recommend this album wholeheartedly, hoping it will find a warm place in the hearts of as many listeners as possible.

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