It’s worth pointing out that the nuevo tango of the late Astor Piazzolla, who expanded the Argentine tango into something that totally transcends its origins (much as Johann Strauss did for the 19th-century Viennese waltz) is heard more often in the U.S. these days than the traditional idiom originated by the gauchos of the Argentine pampas. Would-be purists interested in exploring that source, in which tango exists less as an explicit artistic statement than as an impossibly voluptous dance music, could get off to a pretty good start by checking out Alejandro Scarpino, a native Argentine musician who moved to Chicago a few years back and has been gigging around town all-too-sporadically every since. Scarpino plays the bandoneon (a button-equipped member of the accordian family), bringing to the surface its enormous capacity for lyricism and timbral lushness in a way that gets me, for one, downright weepy (maybe partly because his music hits a lot of the same emotional buttons as the Italian accordian records my old man kept spinning on the living room phonograph when I was a tyke). Scarpino is one of 13 music, dance, and performance acts in this weekend’s big benefit for HotHouse; his set should be particularly worth catching because it’s a rare solo turn, offering a chance to hear him unobscured by the pickup bands of widely varying quality he’s been working with since he came here. Sunday, 7:30 PM, HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee; 235-2334.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Waldemar Reichert.