Sydney gets a new tango band

Tangolo is the name of the Tango Quintet that debuted last night at the Concord RSL milonga hosted by TangoSynergy, Sydney's tango club. As well as being top calibre musicians most of this tango quintet also dances, which gives them an insider's understanding of how dancers feel their music. These musicians all have diverse backgrounds ranging from classical, folk, jazz and opera and I was told all came from Sydney's Conservatorium where it is possible they belonged to TangoOz, a tango orchestra established by Sydney bandoneonista, Maggie Ferguson.
The quintet consists of Emily-Rose Sarkova on accordion/voice, Susie Bishop on violin/voice, Owen Salome on guitar/flute/voice, with Amy Putt on  grand piano and David Groves on double bass.Tangolo describes itself as being "on a mission to create a fresh and danceable energy in performances of both popular and lesser known tangos from the golden era to more contemporary nuevo."
They opened with a stunner - I wish I had taken my notebook (not something an old journalist should admit to) because I can't remember the name of the piece. Susie Bishop began with a beautiful violin melody, then used her other instrument, her voice, to maximum effect. The surprise and delight in the room was palpable. Here was an excellent tango voice, beautifully clear, singing tango as it was meant to be sung!  Emily-Rose played her accordion like it was a bandoneon - not an easy task, she wrung a sound from her accordion that was almost as haunting as that from a bandoneon. Their first set was mixed, but mostly very danceable including the cortinas which had a few of the die-hards stay on the floor.
Hosanna, who is one of Sydney's best tangueras (see post below) was the DJ for the night and her selection based on Golden Age music complemented the band and was mostly non-stop danceable. Had we left before the next set by Tangolo we may have had no misgivings.
However the band's second performance began with a 'nuevo' piece, which got some of those whose tango is more like a cheerleaders dance onto the floor! Then a beautiful piece of Piazzolla, which those I was sitting with agreed was not for dancing but was beautiful listening.  We departed at the end of this piece so I can't report on the rest of the set.
Tangolo is a breath of fresh air in the Sydney tango scene - we need tango bands, enough to choose from. We need these bands to compete with each other for dance events - and we need them to draw more people into the tango scene so that we can make supporting these musicians on a regular basis, a real possibility.
I will look forward to the next event with Tangolo with the hope that they will save the Piazzolla for venues where dancing is not the principle activity of the night - I would love to listen to them playing orchestral tango in a nightclub or small venue - and that they will breath new life into Sydney's tango music scene.


Anonymous said…
Congratulations Synergy for encouraging and supporting this new band of very talented musicians and hope it will be ongoing. I feel it is important to distinguish between an Argentine tango dance band and one that is more like a folk band. As a listener I enjoyed Saturdays band but as a leader the groove I needed was elusive the organ like sounds of the accordion killing the clarity of the piano, double base and violin. I believe it is very possible to have a good danceable tango band made up of, violins, piano and double base (no wind instruments) I have danced to a band made up of two guitars, piano and mouth organ the purpose being to showcase the brilliant mouth organist, they did not present themselves as a tango dance band the majority of the dancer present being content to listen.
David G
Just to help put a few things straight :) We are NOT associated with TangoOz. It's the lovely Fuego Blanco girls that come from that side of things, so whoever speculated that we do speculated wrongly ;) It would be great to all play together though one day!

I'm very glad you found the first set danceable, that is our main aim when playing at dance gigs of course. The first song which you enjoyed was Si Soy asi.

As an occasional DJ at milongas, I also feel it's important to try and please everyone a little and that is why we also included a short tanda of nuevo pieces. Even if some people don't like to dance to them, others do, and I had several comments from people thanking us for playing some , that they really enjoyed dancing to it. I suppose if you dance well, you shouldn't look like a circus performer. As a dancer myself I enjoy dancing to nuevo and non tango as well, but also love the golden age music.

Unfortunately Angelina, you left just before one of our favourite tandas of Milongas. We did confess to the audience that we have a weakness for milongas, they are just one of our favourite things to play! (our encore was also a milonga, Azabache).

And to dear Dave G. I'm sorry you found my accordion organ like sounds killed the rest of the band. Everyone has their own opinions. You do know that the Bandoneon is an instrument that was developed for playing in churches where there was no organ. So I suppose it also has organ like qualities. And when I have enough money and time, I plan to travel to Buenos Aires, buy myself a Bandoneon and study it, but in the meantime I will stick to my accordion which I try to make sound as much like a bandoneon as possible!

You can catch us at the next gig on the 10th of September :) Happy Tangoing!
Hi Emily-Rose - thank you for the feedback! - and for setting the record straight.
I am indeed sorry we missed your tanda of milongas. It wasn't the music that sent us home - though we did think it might be mostly Piazzolla - it was that we had to get up early the next day to babysit!
Where is the next gig? Am keen to hear you again - would love you to post the details on the TangoAustralia forum.
Hope to catch up with you soon.
Our gig on the 10th of September was at the Tango Spirit Milonga. We are grateful that Jacqueline and Anthony are eager to support our project. We know that we have a long way to go before becoming a world class act, but that is our aim, to get better and better. It will only happen if we have support from the tango community as well :) It helps to inspire us to keep working. Our next gig will be at the annual BASH, Buenos Aires in the Southern Highlands in Bundanoon.
We are very excited to play for dancers coming especially to Bundanoon for this event from around Australia. And a little note, I had a word to the pianist Annie from Fuego Blanco a few weeks back and we both agree that getting together one day and forming a larger group for a big event would be great fun! Something to think about in the future...

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