Personnel: Stan Kurtis (violin); William Schimmel (accordion); Michael Sahl (piano).
Do you remember the scene in Scent of a Woman where Al Pacino's character, though blind, dances the tango with the character played by Gabrielle Anwar? Well, the delightful music they danced to was from the eponymous album by the Tango Project. It's a classic piece called "Por una Cabeza" by Carlos Gardel. Dramatic, even for a tango, it's heartbreakingly brief. It also may be the high point of this collection, which consists of music written in the heyday of the tango, mostly in the first third of the 20th century, and mostly by Argentines, of course, along with a few by Europeans.
On five of the album's 13 numbers, only the core trio of accordion, piano, and violin appear. On the rest, a second violin and an acoustic bass are added to create a small orquestra tipica. The performances are competent but lack a crucial margin of passion. The album is thus best appreciated intellectually with heavy reference to the liner notes, as when listening to the two tangos from the earliest days of the form: "Retintín" sounds a bit like American ragtime; "El Esquinazo" resembles a 19th-century Viennese "champagne" polka, complete with sound effects.
The album is good, moderately stimulating tango music served up with love and care by the musicians. Recommended for both fans of the style and ballroom dancers. ~ Kurt Keefner