Jazz and Tango in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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I am obcessed with the small intimate tucked away places where the locals go to listen to good music over an expresso or rich merlot.  Everywhere I travel starts with a serach on how to find these places and whats being played there.  My first love is jazz and always will be, which is great for travelers because the sounds of jazz have spread throughout the world without becoming over commercialized.  I also seek out those hidden clubs filled with the local sounds of the region I am visiting.  I was lucky enough to find both such places in Buenos Aires.

I first visited Clasica y Moderna expecting to catch a jazz trio, and was disappointed upon arrival to learn that we had missed the jazz.  Fortunately, there was another performance that evening by a Tango singer.  At first glance walking by Clasica y Moderna I would just assume it was just another cafe/bookstore not worth a stop in my busy day, but at night this place comes alive with people of all ages gathering together for amazing music.  There are only a few tables in this cafe and on a weekend it is obvious a reservation would be neccessary.  The tables are close together with the only light being the tiny candle on each table and the soft glow from the stage.  The performance started with a solo from a guitar player in the style of the old Tangos.  The singer joined in the second tune and was absolutely amazing.  I can´t recall her name now, but she had a brilliant stage presence and a voice that belonged in a concert hall.  She sang the Tango melodies with such passion and strength it really added a new level to a musical genere so dominated by men and their songs.  It was a refreshing experience adding to my excitement over Tango that I had not really ever fully appreciated or recognized.  Tango just isn´t a dance its a huge part of the culture that yes may be over commercialized for tourism but is still deeply appreciated in Argentina.  The intimacy of the bookstore allowed me to appreciate the rest of the audiences love and excitment of the music which heightened my own.  The singer was absolutely fantastic, something that many would pay a lot to listen to in a much larger performance hall, and I was lucky enough to see it in a small intimate warm atmosphere.
My love of jazz lead me to a club called Notorious, which at first glance appears to be nothing more than a CD store, but because of amazing advice I learned that there was more to the building. We went to see a jazz act at Notorious the last week in Buenos Aires.  We weren´t sure who was performing, but that wasn´t as important to us than it was visiting this place and just relaxing to whomever was playing.  We had mad reservations because of the lack of room in the back room of the CD store where the concerts are given.  The music started with a song including a piano, an upright bass, and a simple drumset.  I was already excited because the song was in the old style of jazz and lounge music and not the more contemporary jazz which i liken to elevator music.  The singer took the stage in his pin stripped suit, dark sunglasses, and pork pie hat looking as if he had just stepped right out of the 1930s.  Its important next to explain that I love to travel and do all the time without getting homesick. I enjoy the local languages and culture and consider that to be the most rewarding experience of traveling, but when the singer started speaking english I got ecstatic.  For perhaps the first time in my life I felt homesick.  Maybe it was the English maybe it was because it was the jazz I love being sung in the language I first grew to appreciate it, either way that night of jazz was the best I have ever experienced.  From ¨funny valentine¨ to ¨fly me to the moon¨ to the more jazzy ¨All of me¨ I was on the edge of my seat.  During the intermission the singer stopped by to chat for a second and learned we were from Georgia and told of he had just bought a house in Georgia.  We were able to get his email in case he plays some shows back home.  The rest of the night was indescribable and I can´t remember when I enjoyed jazz that much.  I am not an emotional person, but when for his encore he sang ¨Georgia on my mind¨just for us I got a little teary eyed. 

I am glad I was able to experience the Tango music because I think in a way it is similar to jazz for me to the Argentines.  The general population might not listen to it regularly, but it reminds you of home.

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1,237 km (769 miles) traveled
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