Within the tango world, departure from tradition is often considered taboo. But for Buffalo Tango Orkestra and their debut album, Ecos del Pasado (Echoes of the Past), finding their own original voice was a completely natural and spontaneous process—one deeply driven by the diversity of their cultures and their individual musical disciplines.
Formed by Moshe Shulman in the summer of 2012 upon returning from a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Buffalo Tango Orkestra began by performing a traditional type of Argentine tango—classic, well-known pieces arranged using a mix of classical music, Italian opera, and African folk rhythm. And of course, this includes the music of Astor Piazzolla, the acknowledged master of Argentine tango nuevo. But very quickly, they found themselves creating their own arrangements, evolving from the diverse cultural origins of the group—Uruguay, Italy, Ukraine, Dominican Republic, the U.S., Argentina, Israel, and Russia. And to hear them tell the story, they deliberately decided to let that diversity guide them musically. “We have tangos in every flavor imaginable, from refined and subdued to raw and impassioned,” says Moshe. “Anything could be turned into tango.”
From the genre-defining bandoneon to the vocal and violin melodies, all the way down to the double bass and piano that form the rhythm section, it’s immediately evident on that these musicians are deeply in love with the complexity and romanticism of tango. But just as evident is how far they have moved beyond past traditions and stereotypes toward their own vision of tango—one with its own unique language, eclectic style, and resonant sound.
“Tango taps into the romance of our nostalgic soul—the same nostalgia that captures you when you listen to old music or watch black-and-white films,” says Moshe. “But that idea of nostalgia only becomes poignant when it is personal, when the music acts as a bridge between what once was and the vibrant color of the present. To truly experience tango music, you must allow yourself to remain in that deep feeling of loss which connects those two worlds, if only for a moment. This is where tango comes from, and this is where tango lives—within those echoes of the past.”
Buffalo Tango Orkestra’s debut album, Ecos del Pasado, is out now on Hook & Ladder Records/ECR Music Group.
Moshe Shulman: bandoneon, musical director
Miguel Benitez: vocals
Victoria Pérez-Maggiolo: vocals
Chris Vasquez: vocals
Miranda Shulman: violin
Antoine Lefebvre: violin
Sonsoles Llodra: violin
Drew Azzanero: classical guitar
Ivan Docenko: piano
James Marone: double bass