Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Maria Cangiano Sings Piazzolla at Drom, NYC 12/17/08

“We know nothing about classic tango here,” deadpanned Brooklyn-based chanteuse Maria Cangiano, and the crowd was instantly in on the joke. With her big, powerful contralto and a vibrato that she commanded with effortless ease, Cangiano was seemingly born to sing the Piazzolla songbook that she explores on her new cd. Wednesday night at Drom, she delivered a mix of iconic and obscure Piazzolla with dramatic intensity and a feel for the material that bordered on telepathic. But as much heavy lifting as there was going on, Cangiano saved her most dramatic flourishes, including a surprisingly impressive upper register, for those few moments where she had to take a crescendo and then deliver another one on top of that.


Cangiano’s inspired backing band changed shape as the show went on, with keyboards, bandoneon, violin, guitar, and upright bass in addition to two percussionists alternating between some of the songs. It didn’t take her long, just one song, before she left the world of tango for an obscure, straight-up pop ballad, airy, slow and somewhat skeletal as it built to a matter-of-factly eerie four-note coda. The following song dated from early in the great Argentinian composer’s career, morosely contemplating the thought of suicide at 6 AM after the party’s run its course.


The high point of the night was the haunting, anguished lament Ciudades (Cities), Cangiano insistent and imploring throughout its bitter refrain, love evaporating amid the inexorable passage of time and the immutability of the buildings towering overhead. She finally shook off the slinkiness of the earlier part of the set and took flight on a track from the 1965 collaboration album between Piazzolla and Jorge Luis Borges, the guitarist coloring the song with some warmly sparse acoustic slide work. Her version of El Sur (Going South) was perfectly paced, gently building from wistful and homesick to towering magnificence. They closed with a rare candombe given considerable fire and bounce by the two percussionists, the guitarist switching to electric and fueling the song with some swooping jazz lines.

Oddly, the only miss of the night was an instrumental, Libertango, the Piazzolla classic everybody knows, which sputtered along with exaggerated staccato. The song’s about freedom through dance, but this particular dance never found a place to stand and start to sway. Maria Cangiano’s next New York show is at half past noon at the Blue Note on Jan 25, two sets for the relatively low price of $25.


December 19, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Felicitations!! Profesora.

    A wonderful review of your DROM performance. I will try to get to the Blue Note if I am in town in January.

    Best wishes to you and Gordon for a healthy, happy, prosperous and joyful new year.

    love, ziporita

    Comment by ziporita | December 30, 2008 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: