I have said so much about Sofía Tosello as a tango singer, and about the Afro-Peruvian fusion project, Tangolandó, of which she is half, that I assumed last Sunday at the Blue Note that I would snap a picture for social media, promulgate a caption, and let it go at that.
But it remains true that there are few around who can sing a tango like Tosello does, plunging to its bottom like a diver into the deep, and doing so live, before our eyes and ears, with a sensitivity to our presence that only one who understands what it really means to address the people before her – not the perfect audience of her imagination – can possess. She never forgets that we are there, hearing her and wishing her well; and us specifically.
Tango is the art song of love, in the broadest sense, an act of sharing between artist and audience. So it felt during Tosello’s rendition of “Nostalgia,” which equals the best I have heard anywhere, and of Piazzolla’s “Invierno porteño,” new to Tangolandó’s repertory, which was like a seasonal inversion, fraught with the emotion of a Southern Hemisphere winter even as we sweltered in the sentiment of our own verano. This is a singer who knows the emotional shadings of the microphone and pays attention to such nuances as how the order of the songs affects her listeners, who does something that matters to her, and that in turn matters to us.
But of course it wasn’t just her; the band and its musical director and guitarist Yuri Juárez had plenty else in store. There was no accordion or bandoneón this time, but there was a flutist from Córdoba, Mariana Occhiuzzi, who made as much sense of the flute in regard to tango as I have heard to date. Sergio Reyes contributed his violin to the sound, but also the melódica, an eccentric instrument if ever there was one, that laid down an unexpected ambiance to the classic “Niebla del Rachuela.” There was an enlivening version of Barbieri’s “Last Tango in Paris,” an instrumental number that began the second set, laced with landó, the rhythm to which the band owes its name.
So I guess will have to say something about this after all. At the top is one of the photos I snapped. The vivid blue of the venue gives some idea of the explosion of emotional color that I may one day try to convey.