Katie Viqueira's The Other Side
is an enjoyable collection of Argentine tangos and ballads handled with an eye to jazz. The group's approach could be described as a hard tango--a hybrid of hard bop and tango--on numbers like "Detras del Muro de los Lamentos" and "Adios Nonino" "La Voz de Buenos Aires" starts out in that style before settling down somewhat into a dramatic ballad. There are more straightforward ballads on the CD such as "Vuelvo al Sur," and the spritely "Como Parjaros en el Aire" almost sounds like it could've come from the Great American Songbook.
While singer Viqueira is the star of the show, able to raise her level of intensity and drama to match hard rhythms and to lower it down to a compelling whisper, pianist Nando Michelin is the one that makes the music happen. He has an excellent touch for ballad playing and his playing demonstrates his understanding of Argentine music alongside the influence of jazz players including McCoy Tyner. Gustavo Amarante is a steady bassist who sparingly but effectively will enter into the area of melody, and drummer Bertram Lehmann actively and forcefully drives the group. This music inhabits a happy space between folk music and jazz, steeped in the Argentine tradition but informed in approach by modern jazz. Such blends don't always work, but this one definitely does.