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MOSALINI - CHE BANDONEÓN

On the occasion of the fourth article of the section dedicated to the records that have in some way marked the history of the bandoneón we welcome for the second time the maestro Juan José Mosalini. In this article we talk about his second solo bandoneón album "Che Bandoneón".

Here is the complete interview with the master Juan José Mosalini.


Good morning Maestro, let's talk about your second solo album. When was it made? What is its history?


The album is from the early nineties. Since the previous solo album was very well received, the record company pushed me to make a second one on the same "style". To make this second record I took all the necessary calm. The idea was to involve fellow bandoneonists who would write original works and then I would interpret them. All the fellow bandoneonists I contacted were immediately interested, and so the project began.



Which bandoneonists participated in the project?


They were some: Daniel Binelli (with the song Paris desde aquí), Julio Pane (with Divagación y Tango, for two bandoneóns). Leopold Frederick participated, and it was a great honor for me. I contacted him with a little hesitation because I thought I was disturbing him, when in fact he told me "With great pleasure! You're doing a lot to make the bandoneon known, of course I'll participate!" And so he dedicated to me the song Un fueye en Paris.


Mederos also participated and wrote Pumpa, a wonderful melody, perfectly in his style. I also invited Piazzolla, but his composition came a little later: he took some time to compose it. When he had finally finished it, he personally gave it to Federico saying "Will you meet Mosalini?" He knew that I returned to Buenos Aires more or less once a year and so he did not deliver that tango directly to me, but I received it through Federico. This is a bit the story of that tango, Pedro y Pedro, dedicated to Maffia and Laurenz.


In addition to the compositions of my fellow bandoneonists there are some recordings made with Antonio Agri. In fact, at that time, we were playing a lot together. I remember that once we were in a dressing room where there were Tata Cedrón, César Stroscio and others, and we were improvising on an arrangement of Los Mareados; They listened to that improvisation and all told us that we absolutely had to record it, and so it was.


In the record there are other themes of mine, for example Ida y Vuelta, for bandoneón and violin. Then there's the classic Che Bandoneón and other songs that I honestly don't remember now. All this was in 1992, I recorded it at different times, when I received the scores. It took about a year to complete.


How was perceived this record?


It was very well received, because all those who had discovered the first bandoneón solo record were alert waiting for another one to come out, and this despite the fact that I had played in other bands in the meantime. When the album was released, it was received positively more or less everywhere. The bandoneón and violin duo was also a surprise, a formation that until then had not yet been explored much.



Was there any particular sound experimentation for this record?


No, this record is totally "natural": all the recordings were deliberately without effects. The only song with some sound processing was Julio Pane's, because it was an arrangement for two bandoneóns, which I both played in playback. All the other recordings were live, in general was good the first take or second. It was all recorded at Label Blue's studio in Amiens.


Is there any other anecdote you want to tell us?


Yes, there is a rather funny episode, related to Astor Piazzolla. When he gave Pedro y Pedro to Federico, he told him "I give it to you because you are the only one who can play it". And Leopoldo replied "okay, but as you always said, once you have written, the work already no longer belongs to you, so I will give it to Mosalini because he was the one who made you write it". Astor always had this humor like that, he always liked to provoke a little with his jokes.



After this, you made other solo bandoneon records?


No, only that one. It was my last bandoneon record. But then many others bandoneonists pubblished various records, so these two records of mine has been a kind of detonator. Even Leopoldo, who was in a certain way the initiator of solo bandoneon records, after that made his solo record.


It is interesting the direction that the instrument is taking: the bandoneón solo and the exploration of other repertoires, like speaking other languages with the bandoneón: what do you think about it?


The comparison is correct: speak other languages. The instrument traditionally refers to tango, but I think it is still to be discovered, despite the giant steps made in recent years. Many musicians with different musical horizons and many composers are taking an interest in the bandoneón. The instrument can safely play repertoires of other genres, thanks to its extension and polyphonic capabilities. Provided, however, that you know the specific language of each style.


Me, for example, would not make a jazz record for bandoneón solo because it is not the language that I manage, although I have explored that musical universe with a trio, but they were metaphors, nothing more. An entire record of a certain style is not achieved simply by playing the notes that are written: you need to know the style elements, and studying and researching are necessary. It does not matter what is the instrument: when you dedicate yourself deeply to a certain type of music you have to study it thoroughly, listen that genre a lot, know and develop a vocabulary.


However, the proof of the versatility of the instrument is defined in Argentina, where the bandoneón represents not only the tango but also litholareña music and folklore, demonstrating that the bandoneón quickly integrates with those styles with which it comes into contact.



Do you feel that living for so long in France has brought European musical elements into your way of making music, as well as you learned speaking French?


Yes, without a doubt. And this despite the fact that I have always been "hard" enough to learn languages, evidently I do not have a good ear for that. However, regardless, the European experience was decisive for my music. The musical context that has lived in the big European cities is incredible, especially in Paris, where there were 150 shows scheduled every day: you left a jazz club and you could listen to traditional African music.


In France, composers were financially supported by the administrations and were paid for their compositions. All this stimulated a lot and promoted the work of many musicians, contributing to a lively and constantly renewed musical environment. Even the slightest curious person was literally overwhelmed by musical proposals. I'm talking about Paris but the same can be said of several other cities in France, although perhaps to a lesser extent. All radios, theaters, conservatories gave space to musical creation as well as concerts.


To sum up, actually this whole universe of sounds had a great effect on me and on my way of playing the bandoneón, to the advantage of the musical language.


Can you cite one of your representative works of this contamination?


Yes, I refer to the period of about a decade, or a little more: the period of the trio. The trio was on a path of constant musical research. Although all three of us were interpreters of classical tango, we made tradition coexist with experimentation. All this happened day by day, so most of the time we didn't realize it while doing it. However, this is not the only example, I can say the same of the quintet with Agri: an entire disc dedicated to research.



Is exploration today more alive than ever?


Yes, there are many bandoneónists who are constantly doing musical research, and this happens all over the world. Musical experimentation with the bandoneón is in full development, supported by impressive musicians, composers, great arrangers. I think the bandoneón is in full effervescence. The instrument is no longer at risk of extinction: nowadays it is more alive than ever.



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About me

My name is Omar Caccia, I like to study and write about the history of bandoneón. I have lived in Buenos Aires since 2018 to examine in depth this instrument at the Conservatory "Manuel De Falla". I write on blogs my thoughts on music and this incredible instrument.



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