“Hijos ilegítimos de Astor” is an incredible orchestra composed by ten musicians, a contemporary sound with typical tango instruments. On the occasion of his second album “Intuición Tango”, we met the creator of the project, Argentine composer and bandoneonist Alejandro Fasanini, along with his inseparable friend and first bandoneonist Giampaolo Costantini.
At a distance of three years from the previous work “Tentación Tango” came the second album of the orchestra, “Intuición Tango”, edited by Videoradio and Rai Trade.
Are all the songs composed by you? . How is this second work born?
Alejandro: This album was born one morning, the night before I dreamed of Ricardo, friend and guitarist of the orchestra, and his wife Annalisa who was in real life nine months pregnant. I woke up with the image of the two hugging. Immediately I got up, there was a sheet on the table and I wrote a musical phrase in 5/4. I did not finish writing it that the answer comes to me, so I decided to write an “FUGA” Immediately the third sentence appeared, then the fourth, and finally a fifth … At that moment I drop the pencil and stand. I was there, with great excitement when the phone rang, it was Ricardo who communicated Linda’s birth that morning! I still get excited when I tell …
Beautiful! So are all of your compositions born like this?
A: My music is always born of a strong emotion. An emotion that turns into sound. I do not feel immediately to write it, this was an exception. Discepolo once said that he wrote from the memory of emotion. When emotion appears it is preferable to stay in it and live it, enjoying, suffering, paralyzed or flying! If you sit down to write immediately it is too banal, Machiavellian. These emotions become sounds, then, if any sound stays inside then I write it. Do you know how many times I experienced emotions that generated sounds? Many times … but then I wait a few days to write and many of those sounds are no longer there. If I had taken note at this time today I would have another 5-10 discs ready!
To compose then you have to know how to get excited?
A: I think you have to know how to listen, listen, listen, and not only if it is composed. It is hard for a human to listen, to listen to the other. I could not live without listening, not just music, to other people and everything that happens around me. By training listening you can feel the emotions from another point of view, listen not only with the ears, you can listen with the whole body. Everything has its own vibration, objects vibrate if you stimulate them, emotions vibrate, even thoughts vibrate. This vibration has a sound that I then write. It’s easy, at least for me.
This second disc is much more relaxed and reflective than the previous one. What is different?
A: I’m glad this is the second and not the first. The first was a very meaningful album but also very constructed. “Temptation Tango” I composed it in 2000, then I formed the orchestra, but only after 9 years of research, tests and a mortgage of € 10,000 in the bank I managed to record it!
However, this is an album that has the imprint of intuition, something that happens without being thought, if you think it is not. We met the musicians on a Sunday, Monday we were in the studio and after two days the record was finished.
Giampaolo: It was quite hard. The days of work were very long, beginning at eight in the morning and ending at eight at night. I came home on Thursday, dead tired. Alejandro’s scores are mysteries, they are difficult to play. The first record was easier to record, because we had a lot of time to play and assimilate the music. This time was not easy, imagine ten people who play a new music for the first time. Alejandro had done rehearsals separately, we did not rehearse all together until a few days before the recording.
A: I wanted to live the spontaneity, the freshness. Luckily with them it is easy to play this music, with other musicians I do not know if I could.
G :. This second album is more emotional than the first. We find the parts and we suddenly discover the emotion of this work, it was not easy to immediately get in tune, it is not something that you can think and manage.
A: You do not come through the thought at all. There are things that are not to be understood, like much of life. Listened to, but not with the mind. To train not to think, meditation is good for this. Even when dancing is not thought, and if one thinks maybe it is not dancing. When you make music, it’s the same thing.
How much is there in “Intuición Tango” of Italy and how much of Buenos Aires?
A: There is a bit of Italy on this record, in fact, two of the three songs are sung in Italian. I have been living in Italy for 14 years and I still do not know why I can not go back to Buenos Aires. Maybe because the city has changed, or maybe because the one that has changed is me. “A Buenos Aires” is the second song of the album, and as I say there, for me Buenos Aires is a beautiful prostitute, of whom one is in love but knows that it belongs to other men too and you are well like that. My Buenos Aires has saved my life, I lived in its streets all my adolescence. I studied tango a lot, but living in its streets will really make you live, understand. And she welcomes you, welcomes everyone, even when they mistreat her. If you sit down to listen to the tango story told by tangos, all that poetry dedicated to this city, you realize how many men have loved this woman called Buenos Aires; You have written things compared to the higher literature.
How would you describe the music of “Hijos ilegítimos de Astor”, contemporary tango?
G :. It’s definitely not milonga music, it’s not danceable. Take for example the first subject: 5/4 beat, the listener, or the tango who listens for the first time, will have something left over, will not find a familiar rhythm. Like all new things, like all new tangos, it’s not so much tango now, but if you do not know the “traditional” tango you can not play this music as it really is.
A: It does not meet the stereotype of tango, although for me a stereotype hardly represents art in its own time. It is the search for the new, surely, if a thing has already been heard, it has already been made, what is the point of repeating it?
A curiosity, Why this name: “Hijos ilegítimos de Astor” (Illegitimate children of Astor)?
A: Once they asked me the same question on a radio in Buenos Aires, and without thinking so much I missed this phrase: “I prefer to be illegitimate son of someone who is legitimate of none.” I have left home at a young age and have never again seen anyone. I always liked studying and in Buenos Aires it was easy, since the conservatory was in the evening and free. I have always worked and studied. So if I had to be someone’s son, I choose Astor, his music breaks your head.
Carrying forward a 10-musicians tango orchestra today is a very bold choice.
G :. In an economic world like ours, often, unfortunately, a musician is organized by playing in a duet or a trio, but playing with a full orchestra of 10 musicians is a bomb. For the musician it is extraordinary!
In life, many things you do for yourself. Touching “I remember” in ten, with variation in unison is a joy that is transmitted. The orchestra that is happy playing this makes the listener happy, is a mathematician.
A: My biggest gift is to have been able to form this orchestra with these “my brothers” these monsters of music, since when we are playing we are no longer with the head in the score. At the moment of playing there is only magic and when we finish we are not without words.
Does Alejandro, in addition to his compositions, also propose a repertoire of classic tango?
A: I have a database with twenty thousand tangos and much more material which through the years that I spent with these musicians I was making them listen to the stylistic differences of the various orchestras. Two years ago I wrote the (traditional) arrangements of some tangos (thirty) that we play in milongas and festivals, we do a batch of D’Arienzo, a Troilo, Pugliese, Di Sarli and so on, each with its own style.
I’ll tell you an anecdote: the second time we played in the milonga, there was not enough space for the orchestra, so I said: “Let’s play in the middle of the track”, everyone called me crazy. We played in 10 in the middle of the dance floor, very narrow everything, the bandoneones could not open too much and such things. People dancing around us and us without amplification. Very beautiful!
G :. I love playing in the milonga. Not for all musicians, but if I had to choose between the theater and a milonga, I would definitely prefer the milonga. I feel at home. The place of tango is that, and playing in the middle was beautiful!
After “Tentación” and “Intuición” coming?
G :. Meditation … ahahahah
A: The next album will be called “Contemplación Tango”, the cover will be blank and the album will be empty … ahahahah!
Empty discs aside, the plans for the future?
G: Confess … we are working for the traditional …
A: It’s true, I’m writing an album with a traditional profile. Instrumental tango for dancing. All original.
And waiting to dance with the music of “illegitimate children of Astor” for now to enjoy this beautiful job sitting in an armchair looking for … Intuitions!