El Muro Tango triumphs in Europe and has just presented its new song Recuerdo. There they perform Osvaldo Pugliese´s song and break the stereotypes of 2×4 in a desolated Berlin. Watch the video.
A semi-deserted Berlin and two drag dancers following the footsteps of the 2X4. There is no doubt: El Muro Tango has no problem in breaking patterns. That’s how this band decided to portray their new video, a new version of Recuerdo, the song of another revolutionary: Osvaldo Pugliese.
The video was filmed in March of this year, during the coronavirus pandemic with the background of social distancing in Germany.
El Muro Tango is an Argentine tango band that set out to take the international tango scene by storm. With their energetic performances, they spread enthusiasm to tango dancers and music lovers throughout Europe and South America.
Since its debut in 2016, the group has toured the world and played to a full house at prestigious festivals and concert halls such as the Oslo Chamber Music Festival, the Innsbruck Tango Festival, the Royal Concertgebouw and the Usina del Arte.
The band – made up of Norwegian, Karl Espegard (violin), Kaspar Uljas from Estonia (bandoneon) and Argentineans Juan Pablo De Lucca and Benjamin Groisman on piano and double bass respectively – performed in the final of the TV show Norway’s Got Talent 2018 with dance couple Cyrena Drusine & Steinar Refsdal.
They are currently working with the most important tango singers in Argentina, such as Juan Villarreal, Chino Laborde and Negro Falótico. Among its members, the DNA of the historical tango is still alive with Juan Pablo de Lucca, grandson of the renowned singer, Alberto Castillo, who was also a revolutionary in the genre for his time.
The group released its debut album “Nostalgico” at Galileo Music (DE) in November 2018. Their music consists of traditional Argentine tango with a fresh and modern harmonic language, incorporating elements of jazz and South American rhythms.
The story takes place in Berlin and follows two dancers from Buenos Aires, Juampy Ramirez and Daniel Arroyo, while exploring Berlin’s streets and backyards.
During the video, a transformation takes place where they put on makeup and dress in extravagant drag clothes.
The video is a personal and unconventional portrait of the two young artists playing with boundaries in an otherwise rather conservative tango environment, set to music by composer Osvaldo Pugliese. Behind the film is the Norwegian cinematographer Åsmund Hasli.
– The concept is to combine tango with androgyny and elements from drag shows, says band member Karl Espegard.
Art influenced by surroundings
Juan Pablo De Lucca, who is also a band member, comes from a well-known tango family in Buenos Aires. Currently, he lives in Berlin, a city with a lot of alternative culture.
– For us it was about artistic influence, and the willingness to explore the boundaries of the genre we play, says de Lucca.
– We heard the dancers were in Berlin, and listened to the idea. Then we saw the opportunity to make a video that could inspire thought and really challenge artistic boundaries, Espegard says.
El Muro Tango has made the music into a video that addresses gender expressions.
El Muro Tango has made the music to a video that addresses gender expressions. Photo: Iveta Rysava
Challenges artistic consensus
Espegard considers it important to break away from boundaries within the genre.
– Tango is a classic genre with a traditional formula that gives commercial success. We see that new bands are copying the same formula from the 30s and 40s. That in itself is fine, while we also believe it is important to bring in new impulses. In El Muro Tango, we think that tango is live music, not just something static.
– By making this video we have reached an audience that does not usually listen to tango. We envision tango going out to the people, says De Lucca.
People should be themselves
– Do you want to create something new in tango?
– Not really. It is about sending a message, that it is important to challenge oneself and one’s own boundaries. And not least, to be allowed to be oneself.
In Argentina, the home of tango, expressions related to gender expression and alternative sexuality are practically absent in the tango tradition.
– Such aesthetics are thus not very common, although there are also social changes. We would like to provoke, preferably with some humor in making such a video. If one cannot challenge one’s own genre, you tie yourself up as an artist.
The streets of an empty Berlin, in black and white, confuse with the Buenos Aires that saw the birth of the dance that conquered the world. With the desire to return to the tango to its place of transgression, Juan Pablo de Lucca proposes this original version of the classic of “La chicharra de Villa Crespo.
The international band El Muro Tango has just published what they consider “a love letter to tango, to the city of Berlin and to the fans”: a video in the form of a film set to their interpretation of Recuerdo, a classic by the master Osvaldo Pugliese with lyrics by Eduardo Moreno.
This tango was published in 1924 and premiered by the quartet of bandoneonist Juan Fava, at the Café Mitre, in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Villa Crespo.
The first recording was made on December 9, 1926 by Julio De Caro’s orchestra. It was only instrumental: the following year Rosita Montemar recorded the sung version accompanied by musicians from the RCA Victor label.
Inspired by the origins of tango in the popular districts of Buenos Aires, the video marks new connections between the unbridled desire of the milongas and the rough margins of Berlin, one of the great contemporary melting pots of the world, a city of refuge for the queer community and a mecca for performers, musicians and artists.
The dancers of the novel staging are the Argentines Juampy Ramírez and Dani Arroyo who seek to convey the desire to dance and experience life with an intensity that only tango can offer. Their movements are relaxed, with marked pauses through which they tell a story and way of freedom of expression.
This musical proposal is the story a journey through the traditional boundaries of the genre and gender in search of a sound that represents the true nature of tango.
El Muro Tango presents the version of Recuerdo with the desire to immerse oneself deeply in the origins of tango and to establish itself as a defining influence of its as yet undefined identity in alternative Berlin.
The group’s pianist is Juan Pablo de Lucca, grandson of the legendary singer and actor Alberto Castillo. The musical accomplishments of their colleagues are no less impressive. Together, they seek to make tango “transgressive, extravagant and dangerous again,” they say.
As their instrumental interpretation accompanies the dancers – who reflect on what has been lost and what remains, hiding in plain sight on the margins of the city, in the beauty of empty urban spaces, in the transformation of two dancers into living emblems of defiant hope – the lyrical fragments hover like ghosts between the notes:
Yesterday they sang poets / in the soft nights of the atmosphere of pleasure / where bohemian and fragile youth / withered in the bar of the barrio sur dying of illusion / dying their song.
The result is a black and white film that moves and connects with great intensity as it speaks of the present moment. “It is clear that although COVID-19 does not discriminate, the impact of the virus still corresponds to the inequalities of society. Those on the margins are, once again, among the most vulnerable – and courageous. Like Dani and Juampy, they still wear make-up and dance,” say the members of the quartet.
El Muro Tango is an Argentine tango band that has reached the international scene of the genre, reaching all of Europe and South America. Their music consists of traditional Argentine tango with a fresh and modern harmonic language, incorporating elements of jazz and South American rhythms.
Since its debut in 2016, the group has toured all over the world and played to a full house at prestigious festivals and concert halls such as the Oslo Chamber Music Festival, the Innsbruck Tango Festival, the Royal Concertgebouw and the Usina del Arte.
In November 2018, El Muro Tango presented its first album, Nostalgic, at Galileo Music (DE) and received excellent reviews in the international press. Its music consists of traditional Argentine tango with a fresh and modern harmonic language, incorporating elements of jazz and South American rhythms.
The title of this album, Nostálgico, goes right to the heart of what tango represents: nostalgia and longing for what once was. From the first notes, the passion of this Argentinian-Norwegian tango band is evident. Wearing its heart on its sleeve, Nostálgico meanders through the high-and-lows of romance, the excitement of new places, longings for home, impossible love and wild dreams, all in a seductive swirl of violin, piano, double bass, accordion and hypnotic Argentinian–Spanish vocals.
El Muro Tango make no bones about preserving the TANGO tradition. In fact, it is, quite literally, in their blood. In 2016, Argentinian musician Juan Pablo de Lucca (nephew of renowned tango singer Alberto Castillo) and Norwegian Karl Espegard (who began studying classical violin age eight) formed the basis of the band, who now play around the world and collaborate with some of the genre’s biggest names. For some, this homage to tango will ignite Latin passions. For others, though, it might feel a little tried and tested. Either way, the craftsmanship here is exceptional. This is quality music, played to perfection. Furthermore, it is clear that every band member plays each note with the precise passion that ensures tango will never simply be consigned to the history books.
The legendary Alberto Castillo already has an heir: his grandson triumphs in Europe playing modern tango
Juan Pablo De Lucca is proud of his grandfather. He plays modern tango and will soon give a recital at the most famous theater in the Netherlands, where Barenboim and Martha Argerich usually play. The most hilarious anecdotes and the memories of the great singer of tangos that in Argentina of the 50s led the biggest popular phenomenon.
By Julio Lagos
The young pianist Juan Pablo De Lucca is proud of his grandfather, but follows a different musical path. In August he will give a recital at the prestigious Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, where Barenboim and Marta Argerich usually play.
-I am part of my people and I owe them what I am … I speak with their words and sing with their voice !!!
This was the classic introductory phrase of Alberto Castillo (Alberto Salvador De Lucca, his real name) the popular “singer of the hundred Buenos Aires neighborhoods”. For three decades this modest quatrain (a type of stanza, or a complete poem, consisting of four lines) became an emotional safe-conduct that shook millions of Argentines.
At this point of the 21st century, it is necessary to say: in Argentina of the 1950s, Castillo was a popular phenomenon only surpassed by the massive political concentrations of the time.
The premiere of each of his films – there were twelve in all – caused clamorous crowds at the door of the cinemas, with traffic cuts, avalanches and useless police efforts to maintain order. His presentations in the clubs and dances of Carnival called crowds. And his performances in Radio Belgrano made the traffic collapse, with several blocks of line from the public that in its vast majority had to stay outside the building.
What was the reason for this phenomenon?
Castillo was different from all the singers. He broke with the traditional stereotype: he walked on the stage, he balanced his arms, he used his hands to accompany his gestures, he moved the microphone. And above all, he communicated with the public establishing a relationship of belonging. That’s why the crowds felt it as their own.
This overwhelming personality and exuberant style caused some critics – and not a few of his colleagues – to consider it vulgar and coarse.
However, I can offer two proofs that Alberto Castillo was an extraordinary artist. One, the testimony of Aníbal Troilo, who personally told me:
–Castillo is the only tango singer that I never heard out of tune.
No one else told me this. It was Pichuco who told me one day, when we left Radio Municipal.
And the other proof of what Alberto Castillo was as a singer arises from the testimony of Edmundo Rivero. Once I asked him:
-Leonel, why do you not include the tango “Ninguna” in your repertoire?
-No, that’s what Castillo sang. No one could do it better.
With the permission of the readers, we will give this chronicle the format of a musical show. That’s why I offer you this extract of the film “El tango vuelve a París”, from 1948, when Castillo -with Aníbal Troilo´s orchestra- sang “Ninguna” to Elvira Ríos:
(plays “Ninguna” – Alberto Castillo)
Castillo – father of three children – had eleven grandchildren. One of them is called Juan Pablo de Lucca. He is a pianist and from Berlin, where he lives alternating with other European capitals, he tells me:
-I started studying piano at the age of 8 with my maternal grandmother. And I left at 11 because I wanted to play the electric guitar. I got hooked on rock. Then, when I finished high school, I went to the UCA to study Composition, piano and classical music with Antonio Formaro and Federico Wiman. I learned orchestration, counterpoint, audio-perceptive and composition.
Juan Pablo De Lucca, grandson of the mythical Alberto Castillo, feels proud of his grandfather.
Born in 1986, Juan Pablo spent his adolescence listening to Guns n’Roses, Charly García and The Beatles. And also Mercedes Sosa:
-She is the female singer that impacts me the most, by far.
His musical preferences include Sui Generis and Pescado Rabioso and Bill Evans. And that amplitude was reflected in his contact with the instruments:
-Once I entered university, my range of musical options opened. I also started traveling and in each trip I brought back a new instrument. Charango, flutes, clarinet, drums. Obviously, I did not have time to study everything. When I started to dedicate myself to tango, I realized that I had to go deeper into the piano. And little by little I calmed down.
– And how did you get to tango, after so many musical experiences?
-After I started going to milongas, I wanted to investigate more seriously what tango was about. I called Jorge Dragone, who was my grandfather’s pianist for many years and he, with unparalleled generosity, invited me to his house and so it was that week after week I began to understand how was this music played. He showed me arrangements and how he played them. He taught me how to read a tango score. Then I continued my studies with Andrés Linetzky, Nicolás Ledesma, Pablo Fraguela and Julián Peralta. And for a while with Beba Pugliese.
All these stimuli led to a style in which his admiration for Osvaldo Pugliese is recognized:
– For the musicians of my age, Pugliese is the one that has greater connection with the rock harmonies. And he was the one who kept tango alive, so that it would reach my generation.
The group El Muro plays modern tango and triumphs in Europe.
One day, Juan Pablo went to Europe. He arrived in Norway and together with the bandoneon player Åsbjørg Ryeng, the violinist Karl Espegard and the bassist Sebastián Noya created the group El Muro Tango. They collaborated with dancers Cyrena Drusine (New York) and Steinar Refsdal (Oslo) and recently they recorded this version of “Nostálgico”, by Julián Plaza.
If the reader clicks below, our chronicle now becomes a show:
(plays “Nostalgico” / El Muro Tango)
It is reasonable, almost inevitable, for an Argentinean pianist to have a tango swing. But it strikes me that two young Norwegians have such a porteño sound. And when I mention it, Juan Pablo answers:
-Åsbjørg has played bandoneón since she was 10 years old, she had very good teachers and has also studied with Argentine bandoneon players. As for Karl, he lived for a long time in Buenos Aires and from there he took it. Besides, he has a great interest in our culture, expression and language. Being surrounded by Argentineans, sooner or later he ends up getting a hold of it.
-How did you meet them?
– Through Facebook I met Åsbjørg, who at that time was doing tango duets with Karl, bandoneon and violin. Karl had just returned from Buenos Aires and wanted to continue playing tango. I contacted them, there was a good vibe among the three of us and we decided to continue with the project. Now we are constantly looking for different ways to play the tangos we love. We treat the melodies with a more contrapunctual style, we expand the harmonic language and we combine the tuttis and the solos in more unusual ways.
-And the arrangements?
-Before I was more interested in capturing my vision and sound. Today I aim towards a result bearing the fruits of group collaboration. When each member brings their own vision, the result is infinitely richer and more complex. I am always surprised by the unexpected things that appear in a process of collective creation and the total is always greater than the sum of the parts. I am also more open to playing traditional tangos, although I am interested in always saying something of my own, something coherent with the way we live today, our way of understanding music, which is not the same as it was 50 years ago. Before, maybe I needed to distance myself from the traditional repertoire to find my voice. Today I think how my grandfather would say: tango is tango, it does not matter if it’s from yesterday or today.
The reference to Alberto Castillo opens the way for an almost obvious question:
-The European public, the listeners of your music, your own companions, do they have any idea who Alberto Castillo was?
-The milongueros and the people who know tango of course know who Castillo was. For European musicians, the reference is more Astor Piazzolla. But even those who know him are surprised at the magnitude of his figure when I show them audiovisual and documentary material of the time. Being the grandson of Castillo for me was always a blessing and a joy. Being able to meet such an artist and receive part of his legacy fills me with pride. And some of the tangos in our album are part of my grandfather’s repertoire.
In that catalog of songs, Castillo included “Así se baila el tango”, a tango that said “What do pitucos, lamidos and sushetas know, what do they know what tango is, what they know about the beat …”. It was like a challenge, that he sang with a provocative air, pointing to those who resisted his style. He achieved his goal to such a point that more than once the last measures had the echo of a noisy fight in the audience. Meanwhile, on stage, dominating the situation, Castillo broke the molds, loosening his tie, accompanying the modulation of his voice with the profile of his hands and moving the microphone as Elvis Presley would do years later.
Here you can see and hear, at 43 seconds, after a few bars of “El choclo”:
(Alberto Castillo plays – “Así se baila el tango”)
And now let´s enjoy the recording that, 70 years later, made his grandson playing piano with El Muro Tango:
I was lucky to meet Alberto Castillo. And I did a story, which was published in Gente magazine in October 1965. I remember it was a torrent. He talked, he stopped, he gesticulated, he sat down, he hit me in the hand while I took notes, he came back to stop. And he repeated a hose:
-I do not know if you understand me … I do not know if I explain myself …
It was perfectly explained, of course:
-I am necessary. I am not indispensable, because I am neither bread nor noodles.But I am necessary, I transmit. The public is going to see me looking for something and I give it to them. Something simple, easy. Mine is not stern. Do you realize what I’m telling you? I cause euphoria. Let’s see if I’m like those who play tango for themselves! Piazzolla? He went too far. You do not have to play for later, you have to play for now. Thrill. And he makes you think.
We were talking in his apartment on Riobamba street, but it was as if he were on stage. He went, he came, he moved his arms:
– I triumphed because I sing like you and how they want to sing when they are showering. They laughed at me a lot, they said I was a clown, no sir! If I do it, it’s because of something. I associate each word with a gesture, I coordinate the inflection of the voice and the muscular movement Or the hands do not speak? And what can I tell you about those of us who have the Italian spirit? I have an uncle who, if you tie his hands, cannot talk!
Alberto Castillo was a doctor and his artistic career forced him to leave medicine. Although that experience accompanied him throughout his artistic life:
-When I sing a tango I put everything, because I feel it. You can not talk about a drama if you never had it. And that they come to talk to me about dramas, when I spent five years as a general practitioner in the hospital.
Now, his grandson plays tangos in Norway. Everything is different: the environment, the weather, the language, the stage, the musical sound, the story.
However, Juan Pablo feels the same vibration as his grandfather when tango achieves the miracle of communication:
– Sometimes we play in very small towns and we are surprised by the warmth of the audience. There are tango clubs in totally unthinkable places and it is a great joy to be received with such expectation. Last summer we played in Senja, an island that is within the Arctic circle and people ended up dancing our music, without even knowing how to dance tango!
Surely, his grandfather would be very proud. Much more, if he knew what Juan Pablo has just told me:
-They invited us to play at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. It is one of the finest concert halls in Europe and usually hosts artists like Martha Argerich or Daniel Barenboim.
The event is already on the internet. On Sunday, August 4, at 8:00 pm, the band “El Muro Tango” will play at the Kleine Zaal of the most famous theater in the Netherlands.
We do not know if Queen Máxima will attend. Although taking into account that at her wedding she heard “Adiós Nonino”, she could suddenly be among the audience. Do you know why? Because that night Juan Pablo de Lucca and his group are going to play “Milonga del Ángel” by Astor Piazzolla.
Yes, definitely, grandfather Alberto would not take it badly.
Moreover, he would not be angry with me either because I close my chronicle-show with this fantastic version.
Published by Sigbjørn Apeland on June 21, 2019 in Dag og Tid
Argentine-Norwegian tango art
El Muro Tango is characterized by control and precision in all details, the sound is clear and appealing.
This is the first album of the tango band El Muro Tango, which is composed by pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca, violinist Karl Espegard, Åsbjørg Ryeng on bandoneon and Sebastian Noya on double bass. In addition, several guests participate, with the singer and guitarist Juan Villarreal at the forefront. It is thus about Norwegian and Argentine musicians who cultivate classic tango in South American style.
This album is not a fast-paced project. To prepare, the musicians have had an extensive tour schedule in South America and several European countries. In addition, the record is released on a German label, so this is in every way an international project.
Tango has its historical background from the lower working class in Argentina and Uruguay, but has since spread to much of the world – as music, dance style and song poetry. In our time, tango is unlikely to be characterized as popular, but is cultivated as an art form alongside all others, with experts, institutions and a high degree of professionalism.
El Muro Tango is a typical example of this: the music is characterized by control and precision in all details, the sound is clear and appealing. Dramatic feelings are known as a characteristic of tango, and they are to a high degree present in this production, but it is like on film or in a theater production: What we see/hear, is rarely spontaneous, but controlled and carefully planned. This interpretation is not meant to be diminishing, but to underline how strong the feelings and spontaneity can be fixed in an established aesthetic form and still seem credible.
El Muro Tango er prega av kontroll og presisjon i alle detaljar, lydbiletet er klårt og tiltalande.
Dette er den første plata til tangobandet El Muro Tango, som er samansett av pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca, fiolinist Karl Espegard, Åsbjørg Ryeng på bandoneon og Sebastian Noya på kontrabass. Dessutan medverkar fleire gjester, med songaren og gitaristen Juan Villareal i spissen. Det er altså tale om norske og argentinske musikarar som dyrkar klassisk tango i søramerikansk stil.
Denne plata er ikkje noko forhasta prosjekt: I førekant har musikarane hatt omfattande turnéverksemd i Sør-Amerika og fleire europeiske land. Plata kjem dessutan ut på eit tysk plateselskap, så dette er på alle måtar eit internasjonalt prosjekt.
Tango har sin historiske bakgrunn frå mindre pengesterke samfunnslag i Argentina og Uruguay, men har sidan spreidd seg til store delar av verda – både som musikk, dansestil og songlyrikk. I vår tid kan neppe tangoen seiast å vera folkeleg, men vert dyrka som ei kunstform på linje med alle andre, med ekspertar, institusjonar og høg grad av profesjonalitet.
El Muro Tango er såleis eit typisk døme på dette: Musikken er prega av kontroll og presisjon i alle detaljar, lydbiletet er klårt og tiltalande. Dramatiske kjensleuttrykk er rekna som eit kjenneteikn ved tangoen, og dei er i høg grad til stades på denne produksjonen, men det er som på film eller i ei teaterframsyning: Det me ser/høyrer, er sjeldan spontant, men kontrollert og nøye planlagt. Denne fortolkinga er ikkje meint som forkleining, men ei påpeiking av korleis sterke kjensler og spontanitet kan fikserast i ei etablert estetisk form og likevel verka truverdige.
Arte de tango argentino-noruego
El Muro Tango se caracteriza por el control y la precisión en todos los detalles, el sonido es claro y atractivo.
Este es el primer álbum de la banda de tango El Muro Tango, que está compuesta por el pianista Juan Pablo de Lucca, el violinista Karl Espegard, Åsbjørg Ryeng en bandoneón y Sebastian Noya en contrabajo. Además, participan varios invitados, con el cantante y guitarrista Juan Villarreal al frente. Por lo tanto, se trata de músicos noruegos y argentinos que cultivan el tango clásico al estilo sudamericano.
Este álbum no es un proyecto precipitado. Para prepararse, los músicos han tenido un extenso programa de giras en América del Sur y varios países europeos. Además, el registro se publica en un sello alemán, por lo que este es un proyecto internacional en todos los aspectos.
El tango tiene sus antecedentes históricos en la clase obrera más baja en Argentina y Uruguay, pero desde entonces se ha extendido a gran parte del mundo, como música, estilo de baile y poesía. En nuestra época, es poco probable que el tango se caracterice como popular, pero se cultiva como una forma de arte como todas los demás, con expertos, instituciones y un alto grado de profesionalismo.
El Muro Tango es un ejemplo típico de esto: la música se caracteriza por el control y la precisión en todos los detalles, el sonido es claro y atractivo. Los sentimientos dramáticos son conocidos como una característica del tango, y están muy presentes en esta producción, pero es como en una película o una producción teatral: lo que vemos / oímos, rara vez es espontáneo, sino que es controlado y cuidadosamente planificado. Esta interpretación no pretende disminuir, sino subrayar cuán fuertes son los sentimientos y la espontaneidad que pueden fijarse en una forma estética establecida y aún así parecer creíbles.
While some are currently working hard to build walls, others are light-footed. El Muro Tango not only lifts the boundaries between people and countries but also detaches the tango classics from their previously assigned role. The musicians seem to have devoted themselves to the fascination of opposites, whereby modernity and tradition, north and south, unconventionality and form awareness, passion and coolness are no longer contradictions.
By Doris Schumacher
The ensemble’s story is a modern music fairy tale: in 2012, the Norwegian violinist Karl Espegard attends a Spanish course in Buenos Aires and falls in love with tango: «Shortly after arriving I became friends with a group of tango dancers and students. Some of them were also musicians, and we took tango lessons together and started going out, exploring the bohemian life and underground culture of Buenos Aires. I did not bring my violin, so I went to the nearest music store and bought the cheapest violin I could find. I always had it with me and played at every opportunity, at private parties and spontaneous gatherings, in cafes, jam sessions and milongas. It was a very free and liberating moment with a lot of improvisation in music and life in general». Espegard decides to exchange the regulated life of Northern Europe for the freedom of artistic life in Buenos Aires. He moves to Argentina for one year and becomes a member of the tango ensemble Orquesta del Centenario, with whom he tours through Argentina and Europe.
In 2016, Argentine pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca, grandson of the prominent tango singer and actor Alberto Castillo, moves from Buenos Aires to Hamburg. In the search for other musicians, he contacts the Norwegian bandoneonist Åsbjørg Ryeng via Facebook. By then, she was playing duos with Karl Espegard, who had just moved back to Europe. Juan Pablo de Lucca: «I came to Oslo in November, we rehearsed and subsequently performed three concerts in Malmö and Oslo. The response from the audience was very good and on a personal level, it clicked really well. From there on we continued working together making El Muro Tango our main project, playing concerts all around Europe».
The initial trio was joined by the Argentinians Sebastián Noya (bass) and Juan Villarreal (vocals, guitar). The latter is a member of the well-known Orquesta El Arranque and is currently considered one of the most sought-after tango singers. This Argentine-Norwegian tango connection has already made a name for itself within and beyond the European and Latin American tango scene, capturing dancers and non-dancers alike with their contemporary arrangements. On the TV program Norway’s Got Talent 2018, the band performed together with the dance couple Cyrena Drusine and Steinar Refsdal in the final round. With «Nostálgico», the ensemble brings out a selection of tangos that in turn have made history.
«Some of the songs from the album are part of my grandfather´s repertoire», says Juan Pablo de Lucca. «I have heard them a lot and love the way he sings them. It is a way of homaging him. As for the other songs, we choose the ones we have a special connection to. If the tango has lyrics, it should be a theme that appeals to us and that we want to talk about». Tangos like «Regin» by Alfredo Rubin, «Recuerdo» by Osvaldo Pugliese, «EI Violin de Becho» by Alfredo Zitarrosa or the Candombe «Tamboriles» by Romeo Gavioli appear in El Muro Tango with a new but traditionally respectful outfit. «We constantly search for different ways to play the tangos we love. We treat the melodies in a more contrapuntal style, expand the harmonic language and combine the tuttis and solos in more unusual ways. Most of the tangos of the album are very well-known pieces and the listener will have no trouble in following, even if we stray away from the traditional path».
Not least to speak of the internationality of its members, El Muro Tango lives up to the great figures of tango in the 20s and 40s, composers and interpreters whose biographies tell stories of emigration and new arrivals. «One of the aspects that fascinate us the most about tango is its deep connection to its culture. When you hear tangos from the 40s you can see how it reflects the life of that time. The lyrics, the way of singing, the record artworks and the dance form are all depicting society. Society has rules and mechanisms. In 1940 women had a designated role within the family and men would work for 30 years in the same place until retirement. All of that has changed. The culture changes and popular culture is always the reflection of a society’s behavior».
El Muro Tango – Pasión Nórdica
Mientras que algunos trabajan actualmente para construir muros, otros son más ligeros. El Muro Tango no solo borra los límites entre las personas y los países, sino que también separa a los clásicos del tango de su rol tradicional. Los músicos parecen haberse dedicado a la fascinación de los opuestos, por lo que modernidad y tradición, norte y sur, conciencia de la forma y no convencionalidad, pasión y razón ya no son contradicciones.
Por Doris Schumacher
La historia del conjunto es un cuento de hadas de la música moderna: en 2012, el violinista noruego Karl Espegard asiste a un curso de español en Buenos Aires y se enamora del tango. «Poco después de llegar me hice amigo de un grupo de bailarines y estudiantes de tango. Algunos de ellos también eran músicos, tomamos clases de tango y comenzamos a salir y explorar la vida bohemia y la cultura under de Buenos Aires. Como no había llevado mi violín, fui a una tienda de música y me compré el más barato que encontré. Lo llevé conmigo a todas partes, desde fiestas privadas y reuniones hasta cafés, jams y milongas. Fue un momento de mucha liberación, con mucha improvisación en la música y en la vida en general». Espegard decide cambiar la vida regulada del norte de Europa por la libertad de la vida artística en Buenos Aires. Se muda a Argentina por un año y se convierte en miembro del conjunto de tango Orquesta del Centenario, con quien gira por Argentina y Europa.
En 2016, el pianista argentino Juan Pablo de Lucca, nieto del reconocido cantante y actor de tango Alberto Castillo, se muda de Buenos Aires a Hamburgo. En búsqueda de otros músicos, se pone en contacto a través de Facebook con la bandoneonista noruega Åsbjørg Ryeng. Por entonces, ella estaba tocando dúos con Karl Espegard, quién acababa de regresar a Europa. Juan Pablo de Lucca: «Vine a Oslo en noviembre, ensayamos y dimos tres conciertos en Malmö y Oslo. La respuesta de la audiencia fue muy buena y a nivel personal funcionó muy bien. A partir de ese momento seguimos trabajando juntos e hicimos de El Muro Tango nuestro proyecto principal, tocando conciertos por toda Europa».
A este trío inicial se le unieron los argentinos Sebastián Noya (bajo) y Juan Villarreal (voz, guitarra). Este último es miembro de la conocida Orquesta El Arranque y actualmente es considerado uno de los cantantes de tango más buscados. Esta conexión de tango argentino-noruega ya se ha hecho un nombre dentro y más allá de la escena del tango europeo y latinoamericano, capturando a bailarines y no bailarines por igual con sus arreglos contemporáneos. En el programa de televisión Noruega Tiene Talento 2018, la banda se presentó junto a la pareja de baile Cyrena Drusine y Steinar Refsdal en la final. Con «Nostálgico», el conjunto presenta una selección de tangos que a su vez han hecho historia.
«Algunas de los tangos del álbum son parte del repertorio de mi abuelo», dice Juan Pablo de Lucca. «Los he escuchado mucho y me encanta la forma en que los cantaba. Es una forma de homenajearlo. En cuanto a las otras músicas, elegimos aquellas con las que tenemos una conexión especial. Si el tango tiene letra, debería ser un tema que nos atraiga y del que quisiéramos hablar ». Tangos como «Regin» de Alfredo Rubin, «Recuerdo» de Osvaldo Pugliese, «EI Violín de Becho» de Alfredo Zitarrosa o el candombe «Tamboriles» de Romeo Gavioli aparecen en El Muro Tango con un traje nuevo pero tradicionalmente respetuoso. «Buscamos constantemente diferentes formas de tocar los tangos que amamos. Tratamos las melodías con un estilo más contrapuntístico, expandimos el lenguaje armónico y combinamos los tuttis y los solos de maneras más inusuales. La mayoría de los tangos del álbum son piezas conocidas que el oyente no tendrá problemas en seguir, incluso si nos alejamos del camino tradicional».
Además de la internacionalidad de sus miembros, El Muro Tango está a la altura de las gestas teatrales de los años 20 y 40, porque las propias biografías de los compositores e intérpretes cuentan historias de emigración y recién llegados. «Uno de los aspectos que más nos fascina del tango es su profunda conexión con su cultura. Cuando escuchás tangos de los años 40 podés ver cómo refleja la vida de la época. Las letras, la forma de cantar, el arte y la forma de baile es una representación de la sociedad. Una sociedad tiene reglas y mecanismos. En 1940 las mujeres tenían un rol asignado dentro de la familia y los hombres trabajaban durante 30 años en el mismo lugar hasta su jubilación. Todo eso ha cambiado. La cultura cambia y la cultura popular es siempre el reflejo de una sociedad».
“This album is very important for us, it defines our musical identity”, explains the pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca about Nostálgico, the album that was recently released by the Argentine-Norwegian group El Muro.
That identity that de Lucca – grandson of the well-known singer Alberto Castillo – mentions is based on a sound profile that takes on the elements of classical tango and adds tools of jazz and contemporary music to stamp a deep and vibrant music that does not leave aside the dancing part.
Nostálgico contains 12 songs that are distributed mostly among traditional authors (“Nostálgico”, “Recuerdo”, “Griseta”, “Malena”) and a quota of contemporaries such as Alfredo “Tape” Rubín (“Regin”) or Juan Villareal himself, singer of the group, with “Distinto pero igual”.
“It’s often about lost or impossible love”, says Norwegian violinist Karl Espegard, co-founder of the group, about the material’s title. “It can also mean missing one’s family and land. Tango was born in the lower classes of Argentina, among European immigrants who met through music, poetry and dance”, says Espegard who lived several years in Buenos Aires.
Edited by the German label Galileo Music, Nostálgico was recorded in Oslo and presented through a tour with concerts in Holland, Norway, Belgium and Germany.
“El Muro has an intensity and energy on stage that amazes me every time I play with them”, underlines Villareal who accompanied the quartet on the aforementioned tour. In Argentina, part of the album could be heard live during the group’s visit earlier this year to the city of Buenos Aires and different places in Patagonia.
With its heart in Buenos Aires and home in Europe, El Muro will continue presenting the album in 2019 with concerts in Germany and Norway – its usual circuit – under a proposal that jumps the abyss between the new and the classic and builds, rather than a wall, a solid bridge to connect the best of tradition with the dynamic current scene of tango that already writes its powerful pages in the history of urban music.
It is summer in Buenos Aires, blue sky and 30º, and we are a week into our first tour in Argentina! So far, we have performed in Salón Canning, finishing the night with a spectacular performance alongside the dance couple Johanna Copes and Leonardo Sardella. The week followed by a beautiful evening at Chau Ché Clú milonga and an appearance as guest artists at Nidia´s concert series in Borges 1975.
On April 6th we have the pleasure to be playing in Usina del Arte alongside Juan Villarreal and special guests Shirlene Oliveira, Chino Laborde and Tumbalatá candombe ensemble. Last but not least, we will spend a week touring Patagonia playing in Bolsón, Bariloche, Esquel, Maitén and Epuyén.
Keep updated about our tour schedule through our Facebook page. Looking forward to see you!
In September 2017, El Muro will be going on a tour that will include theatres and milongas of Norway, Germany and Netherlands. We will be sharing these concerts with Argentine musicians Juan Villarreal (Orquesta El Arranque) and Sebastián Noya (Amores Tangos) and dancers Cyrena Drusine & Steinar Refsdal (www.cstango.com). In addition, the repertoire we will be playing will be recorded at the end of September at Urban Studios, Oslo. For more news and updates, follows us on our Facebook page!