Pedro Giraudo explores the sounds of tango on “Vigor Tanguero”

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Bassist Pedro Giraudo hails from the land of tango, Argentina. However, after having lived in New York City for a number of years, Giraudo has come into his own as a musician. His works are imbued with a sense of wonder and executed with precision. “Vigor Tanguero” impresses with its mix of languid passages created by different instruments. The sounds are layered atop each other, most beautifully in the track “Entre Bambalinas.” Other tracks of note are “Con Un Nudo En la Garganta,” and “Voragine.”

Pedro Giraudo and the streamlined beauty of “Vigor Tanguero”

“Vigor Tanguero” is Giraudo’s first tango album. In addition to his work as a bassist, Giraudo is also a bandleader and composer. This is his sixth album. The songs on “Vigor Tanguero” are the lengths associated with pop songs, in some cases a little longer.

Each song contains an element of sustained notes accompanied by notes that employ various dynamics. The result is a subtle layering that finds each instrument being played to the instrument’s advantage.

Giraudo’s ensemble for the recording consists of Nick Danielson on violin, Rodolfo Zanetti on bandoneon, and Emilio Teubal on piano.

Even though the sounds the ensemble creates are not heavy, the soundscape on “Vigor Tanguero” is fulfilling. Some might even describe it as engrossing. There is a cinematic quality that overwhelms listeners. The music on this album makes listeners feel as though they have stepped into another world – – a world more emotionally complicated and perhaps glamorous than the one listeners are used to.

“Entre Bambalinas”

The song begins with moody bass notes sounding as if they are playing from some distance away. Soon, piano and violin sweep into the soundscape. At once, the music sounds closer to the ear, a sonic close-up.

An instrument that sounds like an accordion sears and bends notes. This must be the bandoneon. The violin is showcased in a series of notes that are apt to induce swaying in certain people. The piano and bandoneon wrap themselves around the line of the violin. The song ends with a gentle fade out of piano and a last minute dash of violin.

“Con Un Nudo En La Garganta”

By the third song into the CD, listeners get the feeling that Giraudo and his ensemble have mastered the art of subtle openings that yield dramatic results. The effect is like hearing a series of stories. Each beginning sets listeners up for a new narrative.

Bouncy, staccato notes from the violin help to build the tension as longer notes from the bandoneon stretch around the piece. This song seems the most tango-like. There is a give and take feel, and listeners can hear the adaptation of traditional tango rhythms. Like the other songs on the CD, “Con Un Nudo En La Garganta” is self-contained.

“Voragine”

The word is loosely translated as “Whirlwind,” and for Giraudo, the piece is his interpretation of the “chaos and confusion that afflict those living in New York.” Heavy piano notes on top of heavier notes from strings mark the opening. The sustained notes of the bandoneon underscore the more dynamic line of the violin. Even when the ensemble is not playing loudly, the tension is still there. The bass is a lonely voice striking its motif almost cautiously. The violin is used to great effect, and when it is joined by the bandoneon to play the same part, it feels right, even though listeners probably couldn’t have expected that such would take place.

The instrumentation goes back to their motifs until the violin begins to play incredibly fast, and just when the dynamics reach a fever pitch, the song ends. Listeners are compelled to be impressed.

Giraudo’s treatment of the music associated with tango is masterful. The moody, dynamic music presented here teaches listeners about the basics of tango and how it can be interpreted, while also presenting Giraudo’s own themes.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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