Duo Ramirez Satorre/Tangalo

Camelot Lounge, February 14

Ramirez res
Adrian Ramirez and Hugo Satorre. Photo: Shay Tobin.

It is curious that the Moral Minority’s more stitched-up members have never tried to ban the tango. Perhaps their seething minds miss its implicit erotic charge, most obvious in the dance steps, but evident in the music, too: a constant collision of dark and light, loud and soft, hard and malleable.

Like its cousin flamenco, tango has spawned countless enthusiastic imitators around the world whose efforts fall short. Argentineans Hugo Satorre (bandoneon) and Adrian Ramirez (guitar) are the real thing. The wonder was the level achieved by the members of Tangalo, the local band hosting the duo’s first Australian tour. They might not quite have Ramirez and Satorre’s ultimate virtuosity and panache, but, freshly returned from a three-month study trip to Buenos Aires, they were entirely worthy collaborators. Indeed two highlights were violinist Susie Bishop’s melting singing on Luna Tucumana and bandoneon player Emily-Rose Sarkova’s vocal on En esta tarde gris.

Pianist Amy Putt and bassist Johan Delin completed the band (Owen Salome being indisposed), which, playing in formats from duo to sextet, achieved that ferocity of precision – chamber music on steroids, if you like – that has been a hallmark of tango since Piazzolla redefined the idiom.

Ramirez deployed a warmth of sound and accuracy of articulation for which many classical guitarists would sell their souls. Satorre’s bandoneon, meanwhile, was the axis around which the music pivoted in terms of phrasing, dynamics and intensity. The dynamic shifts were almost exaggerated in scope, yet therein lay the music’s magic: the subtle shifts of colour as, say, violin (gorgeous on Piazzolla’s Zum) or piano slipped into the foreground for a moment, only to whirl away and be replaced by another sound. Such extreme dynamics also let the music breathe emotionally, from crashing drama to the slightest reedy sighs on bandoneon – a fiendishly difficult instrument that in the hands of a master like Satorre became wondrously expressive.


Duo Ramirez Satorre/Tangalo, Hotel Blue, Katoomba, February 25

Duo Ramirez Satorre, Colbourne Avenue, February 26.