Published by Dan Hobson on June 2019 in Songlines Magazine


Norway hasn’t chilled the passion of this tango

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.

Dan Hobson

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Published by Julio Lagos on June 2019 in Infobae. Read the original interview in Spanish.


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.

(plays “Milonga del ángel / El Muro Tango)

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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.


Norsk-argentinsk tangokunst

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.

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Published by Magnus Lindahl on May 23, 2019 in Hallingdølen


A rare dose of passion

The festival opened in Sorenskrivargarden

With passion and soul, Karl Espegard and El Muro Tango brought excitement at the opening of Festspillene i Nesbyen.

And it was a different musical opening at this year’s festival. In the 31 years of the festival’s existence, there has been little South American music on the program. But Tuesday night, after the official opening had taken place in Galleri Nystugu with an art exhibition by Kristian Finborud, the cultural week commenced with tango rhythms.

Band to Nes
And it was a big hit. From the first tone, the internationally acclaimed group with members from Argentina, Norway, and Estonia excited the audience in Sorenskrivargarden: The concert lasted for a bit over an hour. And as one member of the audience said right after the concert:
– There has never been so much passion in Sorenskrivargarden.
– A unique experience, says Karl Espegard.
He is the main reason why El Muro Tango played in Nesbyen. Because here he lived for one year when he was around ten-eleven. And here his mother grew up and here his grandparents spent all their lives. With family members in the audience, it was a special evening also for the violinist.
– Very nice. And I’m glad so many people came.

Around the world
El Muro Tango was formed in 2016. Since then, they have toured the world and for the Norwegian audience, the group is also known from Norwegian Television (TV2). In the program «Norwegian Talents» in 2018, they played in the finale. On Tuesday, they brought Juan Villarreal, one of the leading tango singers in Argentina. Espegard started playing music when he was eight years old. Now he is a professional musician, who in addition to El Muro Tango has played in the musical «The Book of Mormon» at The Norwegian Theater for the last two years. The group came to Nesbyen from concerts in Berlin, Innsbruck, and Oslo earlier in May. Saturday they go on the stage in Naples before continuing to Turin and Milan. On June 1st they play in Zurich.
– In 2018, we played 60 concerts. This year we play a little less, says Espegard, who was happy to introduce a new musical genre to the festival.
– Tango is not so common in Norway, but it has gained more and more popularity.


Sjeldan dose av lidenskap

Festspillene opna i Sorenskrivargarden

Med lidenskap og sjel begeistra Karl Espegard og El Muro Tango då Festspillene i Nesbyen vart opna.

Og det vart ei annleis musikalsk opning på årets festspel. I dei 31 åra festspela har eksistert har det vore lite søramerikansk musikk på programmet. Men tysdag kveld, etter at den offisielle opninga hadde vore i Galleri Nystugu med kunstutstilling av Kristian Finborud, var det tango- rytmar som drog i gang kulturveka.

Band til Nes
Og det vart full klaff. Frå første tone begeistra den internasjonalt anerkjende gruppa med medlemmer frå Argentina, Norge og Estland publikummet i Sorenskrivargarden: Konserten vara i overkant av ein time. Og som ein av tilhøyrarane sa det rett etter konsertslutt:
– Så mykje lidenskap har det aldri vore i Sorenskrivargarden.
– Ei spesiell oppleving, seier Karl Espegard.
Det er han som er hovudgrunnen til at El Muro Tango spelte i Nesbyen. For her budde han i eitt år då han var ti-elleve år. Og her voks mor hans opp og her budde besteforeldra så lengde dei levde. Med familie på plass i salen, vart det ein spesiell kveld også for fiolinisten.
– Veldig artig. Og eg er glad for at så mange kom.

Verda rundt
El Muro Tango vart danna i 2016. Etter det har dei turnert verda over, og for det norske publikummet er gruppa også kjend frå TV2. I programmet «Norske Talenter» i 2018 spelte dei i finalen. Tysdag hadde dei med seg Juan Villarreal som er rekna som ein dei fremste tangosongarane i Argentina. Espegard begynte med musikk då han var åtte år. No er han profesjonell musikar, som ved sida av El Muro Tango har spelt i det store oppsetjinga «The Book of Mormon» på Det Norske Teatret dei siste to åra. Til Nesbyen kom gruppa frå konsertar i Berlin, Innsbruck og Oslo tidlegare i mai. Laurdag står dei på scena i Napoli før turen går til Torino og Milano. I Zürich speler dei 1. juni.
– I 2018 spelte me 60 konsertar. Det blir noko mindre i år, seier Espegard, som var glad for å introdusere ein ny musikksjanger i festspela.
– Tangoen er ikkje så vanleg i Norge, men den har vorte meir og meir utbreidd.

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Published Dec 17, 2018 in Vårt Land


Great emotions
El Muro Tango & Juan Villarreal

TANGO: The Norwegian-Argentine tango band El Muro Tango released their debut album «Nostálgico» a few weeks ago. Since the band started in 2016 they have toured the world. They mix Argentine traditional tango with elements of jazz and modern music. It moves the tango foot you didn’t know you had, and suddenly you have buttoned up your shirt more than usual. «This is often about lost or impossible love» explains violinist Karl Espegard, who has lived in Buenos Aires for several years.


Store følelser
El Muro Tango & Juan Villarreal

TANGO: Det norsk-argentinske tangobandet El Muro Tango slapp for noen uker siden sitt debutalbum Nostálgico. Siden bandet startet i 2016 har de turnert verden rundt. De blander argentinsk tradisjonell tango med elementer av jazz og moderne musikk. Det rykker i tangofoten du ikke visste at du hadde, og plutselig har du kneppet opp en skjorteknapp mer enn du pleier. «Dette handler ofte om tapt eller umulig kjærlighet» forklarer fiolinist Karl Espegard, som selv har bodd flere år i Buenos Aires.


Grandes emociones
El Muro Tango & Juan Villarreal

TANGO: La banda noruega-argentina de tango El Muro Tango lanzó su álbum debut “Nostálgico” hace unas semanas. Desde que la banda comenzó en 2016, han realizado giras por todo el mundo. Mezclan el tango tradicional argentino con elementos de jazz y música moderna. Movés el pie tanguero que no sabías que tenías, y de repente te abotonaste la camisa más de lo normal. «Esto se trata a menudo de amor perdido o imposible», explica el violinista Karl Espegard, quien ha vivido en Buenos Aires durante varios años.

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Published Feb 2019 in Melodie & Rhythmus


Two Argentinians and two Norwegians demonstrate how international tango can be today: getting to know each other through Facebook, gaining fame by appearing on a Norwegian TV talent show, and touring through every tango club in Argentina with Juan Villarreal, singer of the prestigious Orquesta El Arranque. What does Villarreal appreciate about the quartet? «They have an intense and raw energy on the stage that blows you away!» And that is also captured on «Nostálgico». Traditional tangos from the Golden Age, in a modern language, without any piazzollesque tampering. For anyone wondering how to get through the winter, I strongly recommend this album.

– Barbara Stracci


To argentinere og to nordmenn demonstrerer hvordan internasjonal tango kan være i dag: Man blir kjent med hverandre på Facebook, får oppmerksomhet ved å opptre på et norsk TV-show, turnerer rundt til samtlige argentinske tangoklubber med Juan Villarreal, sangeren til det anerkjente Orquesta El Arranque. Hva er det ved kvartetten som Villarreal verdsetter så høyt? «De har en intens og rå energi på scenen som blåser deg av banen!» Og det er også fanget opp på «Nostálgico». Tradisjonelle tangoer fra den gylne epoken, i et moderne språk, uten piazzollaesk forkludring. Alle som lurer på hvordan de kommer gjennom vinteren, anbefales dette albumet på det varmeste.

– Barbara Stracci


Dos argentinos y dos noruegos demuestran cómo puede ser el tango internacional hoy en día: se conocen a través de Facebook, llaman la atención actuando en un programa de televisión noruego y realizan una gira por todos los clubes de tango argentinos con Juan Villarreal, cantante de la famosa Orquesta El Arranque. Qué hay en el cuarteto que Villarreal aprecia tanto? «Tienen una energía intensa y cruda en el escenario que te deja sin aliento!» Y esto también está plasmado en «Nostálgico». Tangos tradicionales de la época de oro, en lenguaje moderno, sin piazzolleadas. Un álbum muy recomendable para cualquier persona que se pregunte cómo pasar el invierno.

– Barbara Stracci


Zwei Argentinier und zwei Norweger machen vor, wie international Tango heute sein kann: Man lernt sich auf Facebook kennen, erlangt Bekanntheit durch den Auftritt in einer norwegischen TV-Casting-show, tourt mit Juan Villarreal, Sänger des renommierten Orquesta El Arranque, durch sämtliche Tangolokale Argentiniens. Was Villarreal an dem Quartett so schätzt? «Sie haben eine intensive und rohe Energie auf der Bühne, die einen wegbläst!» Und die auch auf «Nostálgico» eingefangen ist. Traditionelle Tangos aus der Goldenen Ära, in modernem Idiom, ohne piazzollaesk zu verkopfen. Alle, die sich fragen, wie sie durch den Winter kommen, sei dieses Album wärmstens empfohlen.

– Barbara Stracci

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Published on Feb 2019 in Jazzthetik Magazine. Read the original interview in German.


El Muro Tango – Nordic Passion

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».

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Published on Jan 2019 in Der Übersteiger Magazin


After I inserted the CD, I was distracted and had to devote myself briefly to other tasks. The tango ran alongside. Why is that important? The music made me work fast and focused. Tango can be annoying. This one is quite the contrary. It is modern, melodious and yet comes with soul. For their album, the Argentinian Juan Pablo and the Norwegian Karl Espegard brought the sought-after tango singer Juan Villareal on board, with whom they have been performing very successfully live in Europe for some time. «Distinto pero igual» – different, but equal – is from him, and at the same time a wonderful motto for the tango in general. In dance, the woman submits to the man and yet she is equal to him. Further playing tips: «Recuerdo» and the dramatic «El Violin de Becho».


Etter at jeg hadde satt på CDen, ble jeg distrahert og måtte vie meg kort til andre oppgaver. Tangoen løp side om side. Hvorfor er det av betydning? Musikken fikk meg til å jobbe raskt og fokusert. Tango kan være irriterende. Denne er det slett ikke. Den er moderne, melodisk og kommer likevel med sjel. I anledning av deres album brakte den argentinske Juan Pablo og den norske Karl Espegard den ettertraktede tangosangeren Juan Villareal om bord. Sammen har de allerede en god stund gjort suksessfulle liveopptredener i Europa. «Distinto pero igual» – forskjellig, men lik – er fra ham, og samtidig et fantastisk motto for tango generelt. I dansen underlegger kvinnen seg mannen og likevel er de likestilte. Videre spilletips: «Recuerdo» og den dramatiske «El Violin de Becho».


Después de insertar el CD, me distraje y tuve que dedicarme brevemente a otras tareas. Mientras, el tango sonaba. ¿Por qué es esto importante? La música me hizo trabajar rápido y concentrado. El tango puede ser molesto. Este es todo lo contrario. Es moderno, melodioso y viene con alma. Para su álbum, el argentino Juan Pablo de Lucca y el noruego Karl Espegard sumaron al famoso cantante de tango Juan Villareal, con quien han estado presentándose en Europa con mucho éxito durante algún tiempo ya. «Distinto pero igual» es una pieza suya, y al mismo tiempo es un lema maravilloso para el tango en general. En la danza, la mujer se somete al hombre y, sin embargo, ella es igual a él. Otras recomendaciones: «Recuerdo» y el dramático «El violín de Becho».


Nachdem ich die CD eingelegt hatte, wurde ich gestört und musste mich kurz anderen Aufgaben widmen. Dabei lief der Tango nebenher. Warum ist das von Bedeutung: Die Musik ließ mich schnell und konzentriert arbeiten. Tango kann nervig sein. Dieser ist es ganz und gar nicht. Er ist modern, melodiös und kommt trotzdem mit Seele daher. Für ihr Album holten sich der Argentinier Juan Pablo und der Norweger Karl Espegard den gefragten Tangosänger Juan Villareal an Bord, mit dem sie auch schon seit einiger Zeit im europäischen Raum sehr erfolgreich live auftreten. «Distinto pero igual» — verschieden, aber gleich — ist von ihm, und gleichzeitig ein wunderbares Motto für den Tango generell. Im Tanz unterwirft sich die Frau dem Mann und trotzdem ist sie ihm auch gleichgestellt. Weitere Anspieltipps: «Recuerdo» und das dramatische «El Violin de Becho».


Read in EnglishNorwegian / Spanish /  German

Published on Dec 2018 in AMM Magazin


The compact sound of the Argentine-Norwegian band by the Argentinian pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca and the Norwegian violinist Karl Espegard can be described as a mix of traditional tango with elements of jazz and modern music. The rhythmic pulse keeps a constant imaginary connection to the body of a dancer. The title of their album «Nostálgico» is dedicated to the core of what constitutes Argentine tango: nostalgia and yearning for the past. «It’s often about loss or an impossible love», explains Karl Espegard. The current line-up includes the vocalist of the well-known orchestra El Arranque, Juan Villareal, who also shares El Muro’s raw energy and passion for tango. Recorded in September 2017, «Nostálgico» is an album that convinces with its wonderfully elaborated arrangements, as well as its sound, committed to the tradition of the old masters, that is so rarely found in today’s tango bands.


Den kompakte lyden av det argentinsk-norske bandet til den argentinske pianisten Juan Pablo de Lucca og den norske fiolinisten Karl Espegard kan beskrives som en blanding av tradisjonell tango med elementer av jazz og moderne musikk. Den rytmiske pulsen holder en konstant imaginær forbindelse til en dansers kropp. Tittelen på deres album «Nostálgico» er dedikert til kjernen av det som utgjør den argentinske tangoen: nostalgi og lengsel etter fortiden. «Det handler ofte om tapt eller en umulig kjærlighet», forklarer Karl Espegard. I den aktuelle bandbesetningen finner man Juan Villareal, vokalist i det berømte orkesteret El Arranque, som også deler El Muros råe energi og lidenskap for tangoen. «Nostálgico», innspilt i september 2017, er et album som imponerer med sine vakkert utarbeidede arrangementer, og dens forpliktelse til tradisjonen og de gamle mesternes klangbilde hører du kun sjeldent spilt på en slik måte av dagens tangoband.


El sonido compacto de la banda argentino-noruega en torno al pianista argentino Juan Pablo de Lucca y al violinista noruego Karl Espegard puede describirse como una mezcla de tango tradicional con elementos de jazz y música moderna. El pulso rítmico mantiene una constante conexión imaginaria con el cuerpo de un bailarín. El título de su álbum «Nostálgico» está dedicado al núcleo de lo que constituye el tango argentino: la nostalgia y el anhelo por lo que fue. «A menudo se trata de la pérdida o de un amor imposible», explica Karl Espegard. La formación actual incluye al cantor de la famosa orquesta El Arranque, Juan Villareal, que comparte con El Muro Tango la misma energía y pasión por el tango. Grabado en septiembre de 2017, «Nostálgico» es un álbum que convence por sus arreglos maravillosamente elaborados, así como por un sonido, cercano a la tradición de los grandes maestros, que rara vez se encuentra en las bandas de tango actuales.


Der kompakte Sound der argentinisch-norwegischen Band um den argentinischen Pianisten Juan Pablo De Lucca und den norwegischen Geiger Karl Espegard lässt sich als Mix aus traditionellem Tango mit Elementen des Jazz und moderner Musik beschreiben. Der rhythmische Puls hält dabei eine ständige imaginäre Verbindung zum Körper eines Tänzers. Der Titel ihres Albums «Nostálgico» widmet sich dem Kern dessen, was den argentinischen Tango ausmacht: Nostalgie und die Sehnsucht nach dem Vergangenen. «Es geht oft um Verlust oder eine unmögliche Liebe», erklärt Karl Espegard. Zur aktuellen Bandbesetzung gehört der Sänger des bekannten Orchesters El Arranque, Juan Villareal, der El Muros rohe Energie und Leidenschaft für den Tango teilt. Aufgenommen im September 2017, ist «Nostálgico» ein Album, das mit seinen wunderbar ausgearbeiteten Arrangements überzeugt sowie seinem der Tradition der alten Meister verpflichteten Sound, den man so gespielt nur sehr selten von aktuellen Tango-Bands findet.

By Ingrid Ciacudia, published 08.12.2018 in Drammens Tidende.

Karl Espegard from Drammen has played violin since he was eight years old. In 2012, he traveled to Buenos Aires to study Spanish and literature and it did not take long before he started missing the violin.

– When I traveled to Argentina I became immersed in tango. I bought the cheapest violin I could find and started playing.
Espegard plays in a Norwegian-Argentine tango band called El Muro Tango. Together they travel and tour in Europe and South America. Recently they released their debut album “Nostálgico”.

The violin has been with him since he was eight years old and music has always been a part of his life. Espegard says his mother was very passionate about her children getting to learn an instrument. Why he ended up with the violin is, in his own opinion, a bit random.
– The man who was to become my first violin teacher came to my school with two of his students. We were allowed to try the violin. My sister and I wanted to start taking lessons. We started together, but she eventually dropped out. I come from a musical family but no one plays professionally.

At the age of 13, Espegard entered the Barratt Due Institute of Music, and for many years he was a member of the Buskerud Youth String Orchestra under the leadership of Thode Fagelund. In 2007 he worked as a teacher at Drammen School of Music and Culture.
– At that time I was also conducting the school string orchestra, and I had a few violin students. I quit my job because I moved to Northern Norway to work as a county musician. I taught and played concerts for the counties that lie a little further out in the countryside, he says.

Found a new genre
In 2012 he traveled to Buenos Aires and got acquainted with the tango. He got in touch with people in the community and decided to start playing.
– I had listened to tango before, but it was first when I traveled to Argentina that I was absorbed by it, he says. In 2016 he met the guys he now plays in a band with.

Don´t live in the same country
El Muro Tango was founded in Oslo, but the musicians now live in different countries.
– The singer of the band lives in Buenos Aires, the pianist lives in Berlin and the bassist lives in Switzerland. There are two of us who live in Norway.
Espegard says that there are, of course, a few challenges involved in playing with people who live in different countries, but rarely does it pass more than a month between meeting to play concerts.
– We plan things together, but it can, of course, be a challenge not to be in the same room or in the same country all the time. We travel a lot, however, and meet whenever we tour. We keep a lot of contact through social media, he explains.

Playing in Book of Mormon
Besides playing in a tango band, Espegard is also involved in the acclaimed musical Book of Mormon at The Norwegian Theater.
– I’m a part of the band so I don’t have a theatrical role, but I have previously worked in several theater productions at The Norwegian Theater, including Kvitebjørn Kong Valemon in 2016, he says.

On tour
On November 18, El Muro Tango gave a concert at Gummibaren in Drammen, and on November 23 they released their debut album. Espegard says that the band has traveled around the world and has received great recognition in both the European and South American tango communities.
– We have traveled in Argentina and performed in the well-known tango clubs. It has been a great experience to be able to travel around the country and play for people who not only like our music but also know the lyrics, says the musician.
– We work with some of the leading Argentine tango singers, including Martin Alvarado, Negro Falótico and Chino Laborde. Our music is a mix of Argentine traditional tango with elements of jazz and modern music, he adds.

Eager about Japan
Espegard tells Drammens Tidende that they have accomplished several goals recently, with tours and debut album to show for. Their next big goal is to travel to Japan, where there is a great interest in tango, both for dancers and tango orchestras, says Espegard.
– We already have some contacts who have traveled to Japan and introduced us to the music industry, but we are thinking of going there in 2020. Tango has been popular in Japan since the ’30s, and there are a lot of Japanese people who have emigrated to Argentina and live in Buenos Aires, says Espegard.