Various Artists

Nu Tango

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This two-hour double CD has Argentinean tango tracks from 1994-2003, with most of the 29 selections hailing from the more recent years of that span. There's not much of a central theme tying together the anthology (not that there has to be), other than to showcase what the compiler feels to be some of the best and most interesting tango efforts from around the time the 20th century turned into the 21st. The breadth of artists creates more diversity than is offered by many tango releases, whether single-artist or anthologies. But some traditionalists -- or just plain tango fans who have no particular agenda about what tango should or shouldn't be -- may not be pleased by the addition of modern electronic dance beats to some of the numbers, particularly the half-dozen remixes (including five tracks by tango master Astor Piazzolla). Use of such rhythms isn't inherently bad, but there's more to sending tango on a new course than just dubbing on a typical thudding club beat and decaying vocal reverb, as is the case with the least impressive items here. Not all such approaches work poorly; Koop's remix of Piazzolla's "Verano Porteno" nicely blends Piazzolla sultry bandoneon with breezy-cheezy bossa nova-ish jazz-pop scat vocals and seagull noises. There are virtually no such modernist production values on Disc Two, however, which is just a solid assortment of performances in more conventional (not necessarily traditionalist or conservative) tango styles. Varying mixtures of melancholy melodies, dignified singing, and jazziness (Wynton Marsalis guests on Ramiro Gallo's "El Sur") are all here in abundance, with some sultry classicism and up-tempo dance colors; accordions are used sometimes, but by no means always.

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