12 Postales, La Camorra (2006)
Reviewed by Volker Poelzl
"12 Postales" (i.e. "12 Postcards") is the latest release by the Argentinean quintet La Camorra Tango. What sets the group apart from other tango ensembles is the fact that they have taken on the challenge of continuing and redefining the Nuevo Tango, a form of modern tango created by Astor Piazzolla in the 1950s. The Nuevo Tango breaks with the established tradition of the tango in many ways and has not always been highly regarded in Argentina. Nuevo Tango explores complex compositions over familiar tango arrangements and incorporates elements from classical music and jazz. In addition, Nuevo Tango gives preference to instrumental compositions and arrangements that are too experimental and complex to be easily danced to or sung, as is the case with traditional tango.
Founded in 1992 La Camorra Tango has won numerous awards and has performed across Latin America and Europe. La Camorra is made up of five talented musicians: Luciano Jungman (bandoneon), Jorge Kohan (guitars), Sebstián Prusak (violin), Hugo Asrin (contrabass) and Nicolás Guerschberg (piano). Each of their five CDs is a journey of discovery and exploration into the depths of tango, with complex arrangements and compositions. Their latest release “12 Postales” is certainly among their most accomplished endeavors and reveals the enormous scope of their talent. What is remarkable about La Camorra’s latest CD is the fact that the ensemble plays primarily their own compositions, rather than works by the famed Astor Piazzolla, as was the case with previous albums (such as ‘Resurrección del Angel’, which contains six compositions by Piazzolla). But while Astor Piazzolla played the bandoneón, the genius of La Camorra Tango arises from the fact that all five instruments played by the group have an equal share in the compositions, and each musician has the opportunity to demonstrate their own virtuosity and creativity with their instrument. The compositions of "12 Postales" sometimes resemble modern jazz more than traditional tango, and they contain complex harmonies and dissonances not usually found in traditional tango. The influence of jazz is especially noticeable in the compositions of pianist Nicolás Guerschberg, who regularly plays with and composes for jazz musicians. On one of the 12 postcards that are part of the liner notes, we read that La Camorra is the manifesto of an ideal tango performer: To become impassioned and to put up a fight. "12 Postales" is the impressive result of the group’s musical passion and fight, and a great listening experience for all fans of tango and contemporary music.