Musician’s Musicians: Astor to Tango

Astor Piazzolla featured on Noted in NashvilleAstor to Tango

What do you imagine when you hear the word “tango”?  Is it the scene from Scent of a Woman when Al Pacino takes the lovely young Donna by the waist and teaches her what Michael, her boyfriend, won’t?  “Michael thinks the tango’s hysterical” she says.  Or is it the scene from True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tia Carrere?  (If so, I’m deeply sorry.)  How about the scene from Mr. and Mrs. Smith when they frisk each other on the dance floor to “Assassin’s Tango”?

Or maybe your mind goes directly to the ridiculous.  You see two men clasping hands, straightening their arms, smashing their cheeks together, striding and dipping like a scene from The Three Stooges.  You think of Lucy and Ricky breaking all the eggs from underneath her coat – receiving the longest laugh in television history.

I’d be willing to bet what music you hear – the song Ricky and Lucy danced to, the most commonly recognized of all tango music – “La cumparsita.”  Allow me to forever change your archetype.

The first time I heard Astor Piazzolla’s nuevo tango was a couple of years ago in Florida.  We were living without air conditioning.  The heat was unrelenting, suffocating.  I was looking for a distraction on You Tube.  What I found was transformative; whirling me to a self I had not yet met.  I was no longer an American woman in the pitted Scooby Doo t-shirt.  I was an Argentine goddess.

There are hundreds of videos on You Tube of Astor’s music.  It’s not an accordion he plays, it’s a bandoneon.  (Much more romantic, don’t you think?)  Look for “Duo de Amor,” “Primavera Portena,” “Tango Apasionado,” and “Leonora’s Love Theme.”  But my cancion favorito is “Libertango”.  If you only listen to one, por favor, don’t miss that one.

Of course, you could do a lot worse than to click “Top Tracks for Astor Piazzolla” and walk away – letting all 65 videos run.  I’ll warn you though.  You may get heated, even if your air conditioner works.

– Anita, Noted in Nashville

Burton, Gary.  “Libertango.”  Libertango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla.  Concord Jazz.  2000

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