In the first of a series of programmes recorded earlier this year in Argentina, musician and writer Banning Eyre travels to the country as it celebrates the 200th Anniversary of its independence from colonial rule, to discover the rich musical cultures that span this vast nation.
Banning starts his journey in Buenos Aires, a teeming city that feels like a crumbling turn-of-the-century European capital, but with the colour and vibrancy of Latin America. Modern Argentina was built upon waves of European immigration in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and it was the music of these immigrants, mixed with the milonga of the Argentine countryside, the habanera of Cuban sailors, and the candombe rhythms of African slaves, that formed a potent new form, one that stood for the passion, the grit and the hardships of this new city - Tango. Tango's origin as a music is complex, born as it was in the brothels and cabarets on the fringes of society, yet it is intimately connected with the identity of urban Argentina. Stepping past the cliches of the dancer with the red rose, Banning meets musicians who explore the rich history of the music, both as a key to its future, but also to their place in modern Argentine society. As well as the music, Banning takes a visit to the decorated grave of singer Carlos Gardel and samples the famed Dulce de Leche ice cream, that the inhabitants of Buenos Aires believe is the greatest in the world.
Featuring on-location sessions and interviews with:
Adriana Varela: one of the foremost female tango singers in Argentina today, accompanied by 3 guitarists and a bandoneon, evokes the song of the early immigrant tenements in the Rio de la Plata.
El Arranque: a septet who play every Friday in Buenos Aires, and for the last fifteen years have been slowly documenting the music of the golden era of Argentine tango, the 1930s and 40s. Founded by double bass player Ignacio Varchausky, who also runs the organisation Tango Via, they discuss how in contemporary Argentina tango is a potent mirror to reflect on the often turbulent history of the country, and asks difficult questions for today.
Cristobal Repetto: a singer with an international career, has a voice that recalls the earliest days of Tango Cancion, a form popularised across the world by singer Carlos Gardel. He draws on both the urban song as well as the milonga styles that preceded Tango.
Ramiro Gallo: a young tango composer, who with his quintet draws on the music of the past to create a tango sound whose roots are solid but treads a clear path to the future. Especially for World Routes he brings together a 14 piece tango orchestra, which for many is the "true" sound of the music.