Bajofondo, Fernando Otero All Ages Critic's Choice Free Member Picks Soundboard

When: Wed., Aug. 27, 6:30 p.m. 2008

As much as anyone working today, Argentinian composer and pianist Fernando Otero has done right by the legacy of tango revolutionary Astor Piazzolla. He’s been based in New York for more than a decade, but he still carries a torch for the music of his homeland—he says this year’s astonishing Pagina de Buenos Aires (Nonesuch) was inspired partly by the kaleidoscopic “sound in the streets” he heard growing up, and the album abandons the rock-influenced experiments of his earlier recordings in favor of traditional acoustic instrumentation. Though two tracks were cut with an orchestra, most are for duos, trios, or quintets—usually some combo of piano, bandoneon, violin, cello, and bass—that Otero’s expert arrangements give a sense of scale and heft. Even the starkest pieces throb with the sanguine rhythms of tango, and Otero is a master at deploying different textures and dynamics: fluid lyricism, tangled aggression, pockets of silence. Even when it’s just his piano and the pristine violin of Nick Danielson—who’ll provide Otero’s only accompaniment at his Chicago debut tonight—the music is heavy with moody drama. Bajofondo, a pop-tango project led by Oscar-winning composer and producer Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, The Motorcycle Diaries), headlines. —Peter Margasak

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