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Blending tango and jazz, Latin Grammy-nominated Argentinian band Escalandrum will be at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in April.
Escalandrum has created a sound that takes inspiration from a musical legend, but boldly interprets this with their unique contemporary style. Local music lovers can look forward to hearing them in April at their continental debut at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, with follow up performances in Joburg, Pretoria and Mozambican capital, Maputo.
Founded in 2000 by drummer and composer Daniel ‘Pípi’ Piazzolla, grandson of Ástor Piazzolla, Escalandrum’s line-up has not changed in the 17 years since then, garnering numerous awards, touring more than 30 countries and performing at the world’s top festivals and clubs. A large part of their repertoire is taken from the late Ástor Piazzolla’s prolific body of work but they have also written and recorded an extensive selection of their own original music.
Described as Argentina’s foremost contemporary tango composer, Ástor was an illustrious bandoneonist who performed his music worldwide. His compositions transformed traditional tango into a style known as “Nuevo Tango”, which did not require a singer, and included the improvisation of jazz, as well as elements from classical music. Escalandrum honours this, adding even more jazz flavor and setting aside both singer and the traditional tango instruments of bandoneon and violin in favour of a 3-part horn section and drum kit.
For their African tour, named Piazzolla Plays Piazzolla, the band will mainly perform Ástor Piazzolla’s compositions in their signature jazz fusion style. Escalandrum will share their New Tango sound with songs that move from moody melancholia to a bold hustle, indicative of their home city’s emotionality and vibrant life. Buenos Aires is a bustling Latin American metropolis known for its sensual tango dancing and passionate yet contemplative locals. Escalandrum has perfected a sound that exemplifies the pulse of this city, seducing the ear, drawing one in close as a dance partner would, and then revealing its depth and complexity. At times it feels sombre, sometimes even playful. Mostly, it is beautiful.
In addition to band leader Pípi Piazzolla on drums, the band consists of Nicolás Guerschberg on piano, Mariano Sívori on double bass, Damián Fogiel and Gustavo Musso on saxophone, and Martín Pantyrer on saxophone and clarinet. Escalandrum has released 9 albums, with their most recent, 3001, being a rare collaboration with a vocalist, the acclaimed Argentinian singer Elena Roger. The album launch in November 2016 saw a packed house of 2000 people at the Teatro Coliseo in Buenos Aires, and reviews have been nothing short of spectacular.
The band is very excited for their first performance on African soil, not least because of the strong influences of African rhythms on Tango music. Says Pípi: “It is always an honour and pleasure for us to represent Argentina abroad, and we hope this will be the first of many performances in Africa. It is a particular honour to have been selected to perform at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, known for its incredibly high standard of programming, and we look forward to sharing the stage with the many other excellent artists. Despite the kilometres that separate us and our cultural differences, we believe in music as a universal language that can unite and move all kinds of audiences.”
Escalandrum premieres at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival on Saturday, April 1. The tour continues with a free workshop at the State Theatre on Monday 3 April (booking required, open to the public) and then a performance at the State Theatre on Wednesday, April 5 with guest artist Zoë Modiga. The band jets up to Maputo to perform on Thursday, April 6 at the Centro Cultural Franco-Moçambicano, before returning to Joburg for a concert at legendary jazz club The Orbit on Friday, April 7, and finally the Brooklyn Theatre on Saturday, April 8.
Escalandrum’s 2017 SA Tour is partly supported by the Argentine Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Javier Figueroa comments: “It is an absolute pleasure for the Embassy to finally be able to host a band of such quality as Escalandrum. It is the result of almost two years of hard work and the involvement of many stakeholders with a commitment to sharing Argentinian culture in South Africa, through collaborations and exchanges with local artists in a variety of fields.”