Tango has changed alot since its early days in La Boca with a new generation of musicians ushering in a movement commonly referred to as Tango Joven (Young Tango) making this age-gold genre way cooler than you might think. We took it upon ourselves to find out where to listen to tango (both old and new) and who to pay attention to within the scene.
Where to go
El Faro was founded in 1931 and declared a bar notable by the Buenos Aires Legislature a few years ago. Tango shows are on Friday nights only, and yet it has still managed to become a hotspot for locals who want to listen to the “real deal”. the bar prides itself in its non-touristy identity, and has fought to be an authentic place to listen to the classic tango tunes being performed by today’s singers. Tangeros like Hernán Cucuza Castiello – founder of the cycle El Tango vuelve al barrio”, which an event accompanied by live music and takes place at El Faro along with El Chino Laborde and Lidia Borda. A great spot to listen to how today’s tango musicians interpret the classics.
Where: Avenida de los Constituyentes 4099, Villa Urquiza.
Club Atlético Fernández Fierro (CAFF)
If there’s one thing the Club Atlético Fernández Fierro isn’t lacking, it’s character. Back in 2001, the Orquesta Típica Fernández Fierro used to play in the streets of San Telmo and got into fights with the authorities. Their early and loyal fanbase even got involved at one point, arguing with the police themselves (props to this particular fan). So the orchestra decided to take matters into their own hands and set up a club where they could play. In 2005, they set up the place themselves, and had a two-for-one promotion going for chairs: if you brought one, your second ticket was free. The result is a one-of-a-kind venue where they throw on David Bowie and the Rolling Stones records before the tango and folklore musicians go on, and where a devoted fan makes homemade empanadas and pies. This place has some serious street cred and happens to be a whole lot of fun.
Where: Sánchez de Bustamante 772, Almagro.
El Tasso’s strong suit has always been its tango scene, with big names like Rodolfo Mederos and Sexteto Mayor having performed on its stage. Because they celebrated their 20th anniversary last year, they decided to expand to other genres, such as popular music and folklore, but also have room for a more jazzy tango band Escalandrum led by Pipi Piazzolla (Astor Piazzolla’s grandson). Musicians have their dressing rooms all the way across the room, so it’s not unusual for them to mix in with the audience once the set is over. Open from Wednesday to Saturday, this is a great spot to get to know the new faces of tango and to get a glimpse into what’s going on in the other genres as well.
Where: Defensa 1575, San Telmo.
Other places that are worth visiting are Maldita Milonga (Perú 571, San Telmo), where a live orchestra, El Afronte, plays every Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. Café Vinilo (Gorriti 3780, Palermo) has a live orchestra play on Mondays and La Época (Guayaquil 877, Caballito), an old-school barbershop with tango concerts every Friday from 16hs to 18hs.
Names to know
Orquesta Típica Fernández Fierro
In one sentence: A nightmarish and dark vision of Buenos Aires told through the closest thing to rock tango has ever seen.
In their own words: “We make 21st century tango. We don’t play a classical repertoire from the 20th century. We play songs that were only composed by contemporary musicians, even if they’re not members of the orchestra. Our mark is quite unique. It’s hard to define it with words, but we play with a Ferández Fierro style.” Federico Terranova, violin player for OTFF.
Who they recommend: Héctor Cucuza Castiello, who’s an interpreter as good as the old school stars. 34 puñaladas has a style more similar to ours, as do most of the artist who perform at Club Atlético Fernández Fierro.
When to catch a show: Wednesday 13th, 20th and 27th and Saturday 23rd at 22hs at CAFF.
Julio Pane (bandoneon player)
In one sentence: Known for his remarkable improvisation and for having been part of orchestras like that of Astor Piazzolla, he is a tremendous interpreter of the classics and has even composed some pieces of his own.
In his own words: “My music is the result of everything I’ve lived and experienced. But the best way to understand it is simply listening to it.”
Next show: Friday May 6th and 13rd at 21.30hs at CAFF.
Ramiro Gallo (violinist)
In one sentence: Founder of the Ramiro Gallo Quintent, which plays Gallo’s own compositions and has performed locally, in the US and in Asia, he is a fan of classical tango and is very respectful of the genre’s rules when it comes to rhythm and harmony.
In his own words: “I see myself as a composer more so than a violinist. I love the violin, but to me it is a means to express my composing. I like classical tango and I also like the sound of this new generation. I look out for new things, because I think the sound you make as a musician should be necessary and original.”
Diego Schissi Quinteto (pianist)
In one sentence: A tremendously versatile musician, Schissi doesn’t consider himself a tango musician but rather a pianist who can interpret many genres, but his quintet does a beautiful job playing the tango classics.
In his own words: “Our quintet plays traditional instruments, but we take tango as a starting point. I don’t play thinking about the genre, and have actually played jazz for longer than I have tango. Our’s is a project with a clear idea in terms of composition where the base is tango, but we allow ourselves to blend it in with other genres.”
Who he recommends: Sexteto de Juan Pablo Navarro, who had been working with a typical orchestra and had his debut with the sextet recently.
Next show: Thursday 14th, 21st and 28th at 21.30hs at Virasoro Bar.
Be on the lookout for flute player Paulina Fein – who founded Tango for Musicians, a series of workshops put together to teach students from all over the world the structure on which tango music is based – harmonica player Franco Luciani and singer Lidia Borda.