On first inspection this recording could be seen as slightly outside the remit of JJ but as it is broadly a mix of traditional tango with elements of jazz and modern music, there is a certain crossover.
El Muro Tango is the Argentine-Norwegian tango band formed by the Argentinian pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca and the Norwegian violinist Karl Espegard, and the sound is largely built around these two musicians. De Lucca’s piano is very much in the foreground, controlling the collective volume and directing the band through modern and traditional compositions, and when not taking the lead, providing the rhythmic structure, with the help of Sebastian Noya’s bass.
All the accepted features of tango are here – the tempo changes through an accelerando or ritardando, long fermatas (pauses of unspecified length or prolonged notes) and doubling of the rhythm – and the musicians follow the expression of the lead soloist, adjusting their playing accordingly, often with a great percussive feel. There is an element of improvisation, but the arrangements are tight and it can’t get too experimental, as by definition it has to be danceable – tango, waltz and milonga (forerunner of the tango) the order of the day.
There are some particularly notable moments: the haunting violin intro on El Violin De Becho; the tempo changes and interaction between violin and Asbjorg Ryeng’s bandoneon on the title track; the striking drama, crescendos and delays of pace in Recuerdo.
Half of the tracks feature the vocals of Argentinian Juan Villareal, some obviously heartfelt and passionate, but without a libretto it is difficult to know exactly what they are expressing; others have a suitably melancholic and nostalgic feel.
Of course it’s not everyone’s glass of Malbec, but for those who want to brush up on their cortados and glides, recommended.
Nostálgico; Así Se Baila El Tango; Regin; Rebeldía; Recuerdo; La Vieja Serenata; Distinto Pero Igual; Bahía Blanca; Griseta; Malena; El Violín De Becho; Tamboriles (41.20)
Juan Pablo De Lucca (p); Juan Villarreal (v, g); Karl Espegard (vn); Sebastian Noya (b); Åsbjørg Ryeng (bandoneón). Track 12 add Fer Aguirre (repique drum); Martín Rizo (chico drum); Pablo Martínez (piano drum). Oslo, September 2017.