Juan Jose Mosalini | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Juan Jose Mosalini 

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Neither the tango nor its principal purveyor, the button accordion known as the bandoneon, can ever fully escape its Argentine heritage--even though the Argentines actually imported the bandoneon from Germany, where it substituted for the pipe organ in poorer churches. But both tango and bandoneon do have a comfortable home away from home in Paris, where the music and the Apache dancers it so often accompanies long ago became enduring cliches. The French created their own tango subgenre by infusing it with the extra sentimentality that rivals wine, food, and Jerry Lewis as their greatest national resource; as a result, Parisian tango has an almost roseate quality when compared to the mean-streets original or even the ferocious artistic passions of Astor Piazzolla, who breathed new life into the Argentine form in the 70s and 80s. It is the Parisian tango that native Argentine Juan Jose Mosalini plays; in the well-chosen words of Kip Hanrahan, whose brief comments grace a new collection of Mosalini's work called One Man's Tango (Shanachie), he offers "a gorgeous description of an Argentina that probably never existed...woven by Argentine exiles (especially in Paris)...primarily for fellow Argentines." It is tango as memento mori, and 55-year-old Mosalini comes by it quite naturally. He started playing tango as a teenager in Buenos Aires, moving to Paris in the 70s during the political tumult that sent many other Argentine artists packing, and that experience keeps his music honest even as it courts melodrama. Mosalini's current tour of the States features his Grande Orchestre de Tango, an 11-piece band that features three bandoneons, a couple cellists, and several violinists. Monday, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; 312-294-3000. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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