Torben Westergaard – Tangofied III
(Gatewaymusic TWMUSIK013. CD Review by Jane Mann)
Tangofied III is the final part of Danish composer / bass player Torben Westergaard’s tango trilogy. He explains his fascination with tango in a way which makes plenty of sense to me:
“I sense a kinship between the melancholia in Nordic jazz and the elegiac nostalgia of Argentinian tango music. There is something in that crossfield which reaches out to me…”
The first Tangofied was recorded in Buenos Aires with Argentinian musicians and was mainly inspired by late Astor Piazzolla compositions. The second, inspired by Argentinian folk music featured mainly Danish musicians and was recorded in Argentina and Denmark. This third work completes Westergaard’s current deliberations on Argentinian music. It is played entirely by his Danish band The Tangofied Ensemble and some friends (list below), and was recorded in Denmark.
The CD presents eight satisfying miniatures, each a neatly structured gem. The combination of instruments – mainly warm-toned lower register ones like cello, bass clarinet and bass – is very pleasing. The use of percussion is minimal. The occasional singing, mostly by Westergaard himself, consists of gentle vocalisations reminiscent of French film music from the sixties. One piece, Bach, manages to combine tango and bossa nova elements with Bach-like inventions. The melodies are by turn bright and pretty, or drenched in wistfulness and melancholy. You can certainly hear the influence of Piazzolla and Gardel, and obviously many of the tunes are “tangofied” or “milongafied” but this is definitely Westergaard’s own soundscape.
There are graceful waltzes (and I love a waltz) of lightness and elegance. The musicianship is world class, and those elements essential to jazz, the infinite rhythmic possibilities and the space for improvisation are well accommodated by these tango forms too. There are some striking accordion, piano and guitar extemporisations. The tune Hugo, which is dedicated to the memory of Danish bass player Hugo Rasmussen (1941- 2015 – Tribute), showcases Westergaard’s deft bass playing which underpins fine ensemble playing from the band and a sinuous accordion solo. There is absolutely no self-indulgence, and the whole album is a pared-down delight. If you enjoy the Nuevo Tango-inspired work of performers like Richard Galliano or Ryuchi Sakamoto, then you will love this.
The Tangofied Ensemble
Ida Nørholm – cello
Anders Banke – bass clarinet
Alejandro Sancho – guitar
Torben Westergaard – bass guitar, voice, glockenspiel and mellotron, composition
Anders Singh Vesterdahl – accordion
Andrea Pellegrini – voice
Benedikte Artved – viola
Jacob Anderson – percussion
Peter Rosendahl – piano, harmonium