It was, to be sure, a night of non-standard tango at Joe’s Pub. Tangolandó, fusing tango song with a distinctive Afro-Peruvian rhythm, closed out a program that began with the Dúo Fain-Mantega, consisting of piano and flute, the latter one of the early instruments in tango orchestras, along with the harp and violin, but not the piano.

I have heard the tango flute before, both here and in Buenos Aires, and it has never quite won me over, resistant as it seems to the deep tonalities that, to me as a social dancer, are what animates the music and attracts me to it. Still, it is part of the music’s history, and thus of interest and deserving of respect. And Paulina Fain on flute and Exequiel Mantegna are accomplished, sometimes playful, and were now and then lush, most notably in Piazzolla’s “Concierto para quinteto”, which it takes no small talent to pull off as a duo.

It must, however, be admitted that I was not there for Fain-Mantega but for Tangolandó, of which the musicians are exemplary and the landó arrangements by guitarist Yuri Juárez exceptionally rousing and innovative. Victor Prieto on the accordian gives the instrument a depth and resonance that I am not sure I have heard elsewhere. But I temporize.

The real point of Tangolandó is Sofía Tosello and her voice, of which I have little left to say even as it gives me more and more. Words may fail me, but those in the letras of tango do not fail her, nor she them. Whether she sings traditionally or experimentally, straight or fusion, makes very little difference. There is something joyous and painful at the core of tango, of tears and the desire of tears, that she gets, and that gets to her, and that anyone who tunes in to her gets in return.

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