The Free-Reed Review
Critiques of Compact Discs, Books and Music Scores

CD Review:Tango Five


Review by Mike O'Regan:

At first play I found this music difficult. I feel that, at times, the mixture of jazz, tango, gypsy, klezmer, etc. to be uneasy bedfellows. The members of Tango Five are undoubtedly superb musicians, both individually and together.

Much of the music contains passages which are either improvised on the spot or played from a score - either would be a remarkable achievement. At times the combinations of the five players tends to border on cacophony, but this is obviously intended to portray the theme.

I have played this album for various musical friends with widely varying responses. As a Free-Reed enthusiast, I rather have liked to hear more of the "star" Raul Jaurena, especially as the sleeve says "featuring Raul Jaurena"

It is curious that Tango music is often the vehicle for expressing human emotions - e.g. the well-known "Jealousy" and "Ecstasy". On this album, we have at least a further three - obsession, desperation, and resignation. These are amply represented by the tracks concerned.

All the pieces on this album (with the exception of "La Cumparsita") were written by members of the ensemble. My friend Garry (a classical guitar player and enthusiast) listened intently to all tracks. Initially he thought that the music was pretentious, featuring as it does individual versatility, sometimes at the expense of clarity, as he put it. However, after hearing many of the tracks again, he came to accept that the weaving countermelodies were in fact intentional, therefore the music quickly becomes an acquired taste. Garry's wife, Jenny, on the other hand couldn't stand more than a few bars of most tracks without forcibly expressing her disapproval ( to put it mildly!).

I played the entire album for my son, who is a pianist, choirmaster, and music teacher. His reaction was immediate approval. Not only did he quickly recognise the individual mastery of the various instruments, but also appreciated the brilliant way that each player interacted with the others.

After several plays, I find that I am becoming more and more comfortable with this music, although it must be diligently listened to to get the most from it. This could never be described as "background music"!

Throughout, my Bose hi-fi emphasised the exquisite recording of every track on this album. I feel that I can heartily recommend it.

Mike O'Regan

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