When Yuri Juárez plays a guitar, his touch is so full of soul and his expression and technique so sensual that his playing is reminiscent of a Don Juan caressing every nook and cranny of a woman’s body. Lest this sound too sensationalist, it must bear mention that the 2012 album, Tangolandó, with the inimitable Argentinean-born New York-based vocalist Sofia Tosello appears to be the main muse. It is hardly surprising that this should be so as Tosello is that kind of vocalist who, like the very best manipulators of the “first” instrument, reaches deep into her soul when she sings. And she vocalises with her whole body. Her voice is visceral and when there is an ache in her heart the heat of broken nerves and tissue “sound” like the painful bubbling of the blood. Thus the sound of the beating “heart” in her voice brings an elemental sadness to some music and tears run down the lyrics. When there must be joy in the song, then she swings and her voice does a kind of dance that is so tactile and is almost visual. Juárez is much the same, but it is his guitar that does the weeping and the joyous laughter. These two musicians seem to belong to each other; certainly they do in a musical sense.
This is why some of the finest classics from Perú and Argentina find a brand new life on this record. It is true that Tangolandó is a sort of New York experiment; something that Tosello and Juárez have invested in. Musical fusions do not always make sense and are often failures because one “musical” side of the fusion must “give” in order for the other to shine. But on this record the so-called fusion is so exquisitely seamless that it is almost impossible to separate where one starts and the other ends. Clearly Sofia Tosello and Yuri Juárez have imagined this project before it was put onto tape. And imagination is the key here. For instance it is not so much the sound of the accordion traditional on a tango that gracefully melds the song “Volver” into what must now sashay and sway as a “tango/landó”, but it is the spirit that moves the music through its instrumentalists especially in the glue that binds it all together: the voice of Tosello and the guitar of Juárez. The same can be said of “Niebla Del Riachuelo,” where the cajón and the accordion do a mad dance all of their own as Juárez and Tosello play an aching song of longing.
Those tracks are the result of the dreamy imagination of Sofia Tosello and Yuri Juárez; the memorable efforts in the rarefied musical topography of “tango/landó,” which weaves a new tapestry stretching from the Afro-Peruvian music from the guitarist’s hands and the Argentinean soul of Sofia Tosello. But they are by no means all the gems that this album contains. The classic Afro-Peruvian Festejo “Cambalache” is where the dynamism of this pair begins. Tosello is magnificent here as she captures the spirit and sensuality of the dance. “Nostalgias” is a lament where the lyric is turned into a series of aching sighs making the vocal exquisitely unforgettable. In fact the album is overflowing with music that is exciting and memorable, right down to the energetic chart, “Astorpolka,” Juárez’s vibrant to the great accordion player from Argentina, who more than haunts the album.
Tracks: Cambalache; Vuelvo al Sur; El Ultimo Café; Canción Inútil; La Arenosa; Nostalgias; Milonga Sentimental; Naranjo en Flor; Volver; Niebla Del Riachuelo; Astorpolka.
Personnel: Sofía Tosello: voice; Yuri Juárez: guitars; Omar Massa: accordion; Jose “Pepe” Céspedes: piano, keyboards (4); Pablo Citarella: piano, keyboards; Enderson Herencia: electric, fretless bass (4); Gerardo Scaglione: contrabass; María Elena Pacheco: violin (7, 11); James Ogle: violin (4); Hugo Alcázar: drums; Leonardo “Gigio” Parodi: cajón, cajita, quijada, campana; Miguel Reyna: cello (11); Josha Oetz: contrabass (11); Juan Medrano Cotito: cajón (11); Alex Sarrin: drums (11).