Juan María Solare & Eduardo Kohan:
Tango nómade

Juan María Solare & Eduardo KohanTango Nómade
Juan María Solare [piano] – Eduardo Kohan [saxophone]
The performers’ label. Duration: 72:46

Juan María Solare & Eduardo Kohan
photograph: juan carlos hernández

01. La Yumba (ca. 1943) - Osvaldo Pugliese (1905 - 1995) [2:38]

Tengo un tango (2004) - Juan María Solare (1966) [3:51]

03. Organito de la tarde (1923) - Cátulo Castillo (1906 - 1975) [2:28]

04. Los pájaros perdidos (1973) - Astor Piazzolla (1921 - 1992) [2:45]

05. Vals para mí (2005) - Eduardo Kohan (1949) [3:41]

06. Tinta roja (1941) - Sebastián Piana (1903 - 1994) (piano solo) [3:05]

07. Gesbor (2006) - Eduardo Kohan (1949) (saxophone solo) [2:47]

08. Madreselva (1931) - Francisco Canaro (1888 - 1964) [3:16]

09. La justicia de la Cuartas (2005) - Eduardo Kohan (1949) [1:39]

10. Oblivion (ca. 1980) - Astor Piazzolla (1921 - 1992) [4:18]

11. Vida mía (1934) - Osvaldo Fresedo (1897 - 1984) [3:42]

12. Sale con fritas (2005) - Juan María Solare (1966) [2:30]

Milonga triste (1937) - Sebastián Piana (1903 - 1994) [4:34]

14. Tango en ciernes (2005) - Juan María Solare (1966) [3:21]

15. Climático (1961) - Héctor Maisano (1936) [3:46]

Octango (2005) - Juan María Solare (1966) [2:42]

17. Nostalgias (1934) - Juan Carlos Cobián (1896 - 1953) [3:52]

18. Tu pálida voz (1942) - Charlo (Carlos J. Pérez) (1905 - 1990) [3:44]

19. Fuimos (1945) - José Dames (1907 - 1944) [4:32]

20. Lo han visto con otra (1928) - Horacio Pettorossi (1896 - 1960) [3:19]

21. Nocturna (1959) - Julián Plaza (1928 - 2003) [2:39]

22. Nómade (de Sonatango, 2002) - Juan María Solare (1966) [3:25]

I met Juan María Solare at one of the Stockhausen Courses in Germany, and then again at another Stockhausen Course; such a very pleasant acquaintance! He was always an attentive attendant at the seminars, score in hand, nose in the notes, jotting down penciled observations and remarks – and then I received some of his recordings of his own material; electroacoustic and acoustic. Here he is again, years later, with a tango CD!

It’s a joint venture with saxophonist Eduardo Kohan. Both of these musicians come from Buenos Aires. Solare was born there in 1966; Kohan in 1949. Now they live in Europe; Kohan in Switzerland, Solare in Germany.

This is the introduction in the booklet, written by Solare:

Nómade is the tango of the emigrants of the Río de la Plata. It is the tango of successive diasporas, an itinerant tango, the tango of exile – perhaps the fundamental form of Argentine fate, wrote Borges. It is the tango (offspring of heterogeneous immigrants) that was born at the River Plate and which spread around the globe; a tango, which, finding new lands, learned to speak in various dialects.
This is the starting point of the present album, which also introduces another crossbreed: a meticulous alchemy between two people – one with a background in popular music and another from the classical domain – who use the tango as a point of convergence. Renouncing the vitality of the one world or the wisdom of the other would be a waste. […]

Aged enfant terrible Mauricio Kagel has also written an introduction in the booklet, but only in German and Spanish, so I’ll try to translate his words:

How reassuring to hear musicians who can prevent the tango from becoming unpopular! It sounds paradoxical, but is in no way: without renewal of the conventional stereotypes and a simultaneous preservation of the essential character the genre would be in a coma on drop-feed today.
The tangos that have been recorded by Eduardo Kohan and Juan María Solare for this album, prove that the distance between composition and interpretation can be much smaller than you usually think. Old and new are so closely knit together here that the crack between the familiar and the unknown even works organically. The tradition of continuity remains – and goes on…

Evert Taube in Saintes Maries de la Mer 1957

For a Scandinavian like myself, the tango is known mostly through two sources: the Swedish writer, poet, lute player and singer Evert Taube (1890 – 1976), who spent many years in Argentina in the early 20th century, and who came back to Sweden with a host of songs about his experiences; one of his most popular songs stemming from Rio de la Plata! (By the way, in late November 2006 the Swedish section of EMI has released the complete recordings of Evert Taube in a luxurious box with 11 CDs and a book, with all the recordings - mostly from 78 RPMs - restored in the London Abbey Road studios). The other main source is the peculiar Finnish tradition of Finnish tango, played and sung at the afternoon dances that are on every day in the land of the Finns! A number of Finnish tango kings have risen to fame; one of the most known being Olavi Virta (1915 – 1972), whom I feel compelled to listen to now that Solare and Kohan have put me in the mood!

Olavi Virta (1915 - 1972) - Finnish tango king!

It is quite a new experience for me to hear Juan María Solare in this romantic, dark velvet setting, since I’ve only encountered him in the intellectualism and complexity of contemporary art music before. The tangos on this disc – 22 of them – are composed by a number of people, from Francisco Canaro (1888 - 1964), Horacio Pettorossi (1896 – 1960), Sebastián Piana (1903 – 1994), and Astor Piazzola (1921 – 1992) to the performers themselves, Eduardo Kohan (3 compositions on the disc) and Juan María Solare (5 compositions). The compositions were admitted to paper between 1928 and 2005. I’m always happy to find diversity in the acts and deeds of my friends – which is very rare, especially in the hard rigidity and stubborn traditionalism of the so-called avant-garde of Sweden: a comical gang of self-indulgent and untalented frauds – so this CD is a welcome addition to my collections!

Finnish tango!

Let me state that all the pieces here are delivered in the most inspiring, swirling, dancing (!) manner - and often in dark red romance!
I’ll restrict myself to listening with pen in hand to the tangos composed by the two performers:

Track 2. Tengo un tango – composed by Juan María Solare

It begins in the piano, half-stepping, sidestepping, moving ever so gently into the awakening saxophone, which paints the moment in withheld but tenderly shivering golden nuances. In this very romantic and persuaded – or persuading – melody, love is already settled in the lives of two people who feel secure with each other, but yet affected by the revolutionary aspect of true love.
The melody is perfect for a relaxed moment with your loved one, or sitting in the back of a club with a good, strong drink, in a comfortable armchair. The tune sounds old, traditional – but Solare composed it in 2004.
There are some dislocating, restarting shifts of color in the melody at a few instances, making the tune even more artistically interesting.

Track 5. Vals para mí – composed by Eduardo Kohan

This one also starts with Solare’s piano, cautiously treading – and Kohan soon joins to bring on a semi-melancholy atmosphere, in a repetitious figure that fans out into a romantic jazz tradition that resembles the Swedish Monica Zetterlund folk-jazz idiom considerably. The tune is almost, in a way, conversative, i.e., a text line would fit quite well, and it would be no hard feat to apply one, to write one… and this tune is hit material in its genre.

Eduardo Kohan
photograph: juan carlos hernández

Track 7. Gesbor – composed by Eduardo Kohan

Starting on a scale-up and then a scale-down glissando, this saxophone solo speaks its particular language, in clear tones, growling and hoarse tones as well as the wheezing breathing sounds of the musician's interaction with his instrument.
This tune seems more lighthearted and less weighty than the others I’ve listened to, delivered in a more joyful, almost jocular and humorous way, simply demonstrating the pleasure of playing. At first it seems empty without the piano, but after a while you realize that you listen even more attentively to the solo saxophone. It becomes the one and only beacon of light in this dark fall… even though it’s talking all to itself, like the thought in your mind when you’re walking down to the harbor to look across the ocean on a cold but cozy day of stillness.

Track 9. La justicia de las Cuartas – composed by Eduardo Kohan

The piece makes a theatrical impression, well suited as illustrative music. You immediately see things when you listen; occurrences on stage amongst a number of dolls and tin soldiers, performing a jagged, crooked, haphazard dance show with dramatic implications, treading this way and that; a boy-girl scenario, a doll hiding behind a pillar, peeping out, soaring ahead with the tin soldier just behind, but he never actually catches up – and like a complicated machinery of tracer motions across the wooden planks, this music moves ahead, starting with a deep, loud piano explosion, followed by these trickling saxophone hide-away and jump-forth motions.

Track 12. Sale con fritas – composed by Juan María Solare

Solare kicks in with the imagery of a ragtime; a ragtime tango, yippee! I feel like climbing my bike, putting on my headlamp and breezing through dark, cold Swedish forests, like I do almost every night, 30 kilometers, to keep the old man going. I have a break from that tonight to write this review, but
Sale con fritas has that horse-before-the-race energy that inspires the hell out of me! These 2 minutes and 30 seconds instill a lot of energy in the old man's anatomy!

Locoman looking for musical truths...

Track 14. Tango en ciernes – composed by Juan María Solare

A caressing melody curls up right from the beginning, like a cat in an armchair, in from the cold, from the frost outside. There is warmth, wine for the humans, warm hands across a cat’s fur – contentment… and that is what this soft, withheld saxophone is all about, what this relaxed dance over ebony an ivory relates… with a reassuring hoarseness in the language of the saxophone towards then end…

Solare looking Loco!

Track 16. Octango – composed by Juan María Solare

Deep down to the left on the piano: a
Frère Jacques melody in clay and dark humus tonalities! This is definitely stated in one, just one, higher piano note, and then… a lucid, elastic, candybar eroticism in the saxophone: an incredibly lustful progression of music along the duration axis, while visions of the power you reach by relaxing grow up the consciousness axis. A wonderful miniature!

Track 22. Nómade – composed by Juan María Solare

This is not only the last track composed by one of the performers on the CD, but also the concluding melody.
As the tune beings it moves conspicuously downwards, little by little, in a staircase motion. Kohan plays the saxophone in such a way, sort of inside the sounds of the piano, at the beginning, so that I have to really listen to distinguish Kohan’s instrument. Solare and Kohan are playing in such a close proximity, as if they were a single entity, in this romantic and somewhat melancholy – yes, indeed melancholy – melody, which – with a few uprisings – seems to have a natural tendency to stoop and bend forward, slide down into sleep, dream… perhaps death and the bardo of the afterlife… and it is so caressingly beautiful and consoling…

Juan María Solare with lady: Elisabeth Dierlich (Kürten 2003)
photograph: ingvar loco nordin