This Friday, the music of genius Thelonious Monk will be performed at a special even. Called Monk Tango, the event will feature Konrad Adderley on bass, Nick Danielson on violin, Gustavo Casenave on piano, and Reno Padilla on vocals, and include dancers Yaisuri Salamanca, John Hernan Raigoza, Mariana Parma, and Herman Brisuela.
Monk Tango is the creation of bassist Konrad Adderley, who has been the bassist at the hit Broadway show Wicked for the last 12 years. It features a 5-piece band with singers and tango dancers. If you like watching “Dancing With The Stars” on television, then you’ll love Monk Tango. Tickets are still available here.
Additionally, audience members will be able to witness a hidden gem: Tito Castro as he plays the bandoneon.
Says Adderley, “Tito is 77 years old and in good form. If nothing else, you should definitely come check him out. In the world of bandoneon players, he is not the most well known; however, he is an underground gem. You will not hear this level of virtuosity anywhere. He embodies the true essence of tango and all of its nuances, which is why dancers love him so much.”
Konrad wrote the following blog post about Tito. Enjoy!
Last Tango In Flushing
In the classic film “Last Tango Paris”, Jeanne played by Maria Schnieder remarks to Marlon Brando about a local tango pianist performing in a night club, “I fell in love with him the first time I heard him play piano”.
If you’re one of the lucky ones attending the Oct 9t Monk Tango concert at Flushing Town Hall. don’t be surprised if you find yourself expressing the same sentiment about Tito Castro. Tito is Monk Tango’s bandoneon player and a New York City treasure.
Tito Hector Castro arrived in New York from Buenos Aires over 20 years ago and is largely responsible for the New York City tango scene. He is one of the few remaining old school tango players that still play in the traditional authentic style of the 40’s and 50’s.
At the age of 78, Tito Castro has lived the life of a true tango musician. He started studying the bandoneon at the early age of 14 with Eladio Blanco, who was the bandoneon player with the Juan D’Arienzo Orchestra (the equivalent of the Duke Ellington Orchestra here in the United States).
A few years later, he began his career playing with the orchestras of Horace Vacarreza and Marco Bagnolo. He later toured with the legends of tango, Jugo Del Carril and Libertad Lamarque. He has also done engagements with the great Placido Domingo at the Washington Opera House and Metropolitan Opera House here in New York. Most recently, he has toured with Ute Lemper.
In the world of film, Tito has worked on the movie “Flawless” with Robert De Niro and the movie “Lust Caution”, which won a Gold Lion Award in the Venitian film festival.
Let’s just touch on the strangest of all instruments for a moment: the bandoneon. Most people have never heard of a bandoneon and understandably so. This is due to the fact that most of the instruments were made before World War II and are near extinction. The factory in Karlsfeld, Germany was destroyed in the war.
In the United States alone, there are less then 24 professional bandoneon players. Several years ago, the Argentinian government passed a law banning the export of bandoneons out of the country. With the advent of services like ebay the instrument was slowly disappearing from its home in Buenos Aires, and it was a necessary move in order to protect their culture. The bulk of the serious bandoneon players still live in Buenos Aires, birthplace of the tango.
The bandoneon is often confused with the accordion. It’s in the same family but is very different in look and sound. The bandoneon is the heart and soul of tango music. It is sometimes called the ‘Argentine squeezebox’. It is played by holding the instrument between both hands and pushing in or pulling out, while pressing the buttons with the fingers.
There is no real logic to the keyboard layout, which makes it one of the most challenging instruments to learn. It has an essential role in the tango orchestra, and in fact has become the symbol of tango. The sound of the bandoneon has a very sensual vocal like quality that can easily seep inside the body of the listener. The sound seductively goes right up your spine and into the crown of your head.
The genius of Tito Castro will be featured throughout the Monk Tango concert this Friday night. You will hear familiar tango classics like “A Media Luz”, “Mariposita”, and “Quejas De Bandoneon”.
In addition we are doing something very special which has never been done before in the music world. We are combining the melodies of jazz legend and American icon Thelonious Monk with the rhythms of tango. Monk classics like “Round Midnight”, “Ruby My Dear”, and “Eronel” take on a different twist when you hear them played as tangos.
As an added bonus, Tito Castro wants everyone to know that he is totally in love with New York and has written a piece dedicated to his second home, entitled “New York Tango”.