Getting Chummy With Chamame

Chango Spasiuk – Pyandi – Los Descalzos
Chango Spasiuk

Pyandi – Los Descalzos (World Village 468083, 2009)

If it’s Argentinean and involves a squeezebox, don’t instantly think tango. Think also chamame, an accordion-based music drawing upon indigenous Argentinean and Brazilian elements, Eastern European polka, Iberian guitar styles, African rhythm, Latin ranchera and a moodiness that sways from joyful to melancholy within its primarily instrumental format. Like tango, chamame has had to overcome perceptions of being a lower class art form. Where tango had Astor Piazzolla on its side, chamame has Horacio “Chango” Spasiuk, accordion master from Argentina’s northeastern Misiones province, a hub of eastern European immigration bordering Brazil.

With Pyandi – Los Descalzos, Spasiuk musically pays tribute to the land of his birth through a series of pieces invoking “Memories of a barefoot childhood” (as an almost-hidden subtitle on the CD’s back cover puts it). In Spasiuk’s capable hands, the accordion becomes an instrument that can a fuel a desire to engage in some frantic two-stepping one minute and picture the calm of a vast rural landscape the next.

In tandem with guitar or violin or in full flower alongside those unplugged accompaniments plus bass, additional strings and percussion, Spasiuk cuts loose with the virtuosity of a classical musician without allowing the fairly humble origins of chamame to get lost in anything that sounds grandiose or indulgent. Some of the silky sensuality of tango can be heard here, but be prepared for a rich, delightfully different sort of music if you have the good sense to obtain this disc.

Spasiuk will be touring the United States in the next months:

March

  • 26 The Cedar Cultural Center Minneapolis, MN
  • 27 Carnegie Hall New York, NY

April

  • 3 Somerville Theatre Boston, MA
  • 4 Getty Center Los Angeles, CA
  • 5 Getty Center Los Angeles, CA
  • 7 Grace Church San Luis Obispo, CA
  • 9 Yoshi’s San Francisco, CA

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