In Argentina, Tango is a way of life. Cafe de Los Maestros is a music documentary about the country’s internationally famous Tango players by award-winning composer Gustavo Santaollala (Brokeback Mountain). The film introduces players and their contributions to tango music history through interviews and archival footage. It also includes their 2006 reunion performance at the Colon Theater in Buenos Aires, which shows that the Maestros, proud and grand old men and women from 1940s and 1950s, the golden days of Tango, continued to sound great and even seemed to get better as they age.
I found Cafe de Los Maestros enjoyable regardless of my limited Tango knowledge, especially because the musicianship is so impressive. Watching the Maestros play their instruments somehow brought a series of images into my mind with no musical relation whatsoever. At least, let me try to share them with you. The bandoneonist is like a fast and fierce bicycle messenger that flies through the streets of downtown. The pianist is a man throwing and spinning pizza pie up in the air. The guitarist is a stunt kite that moves like a fish and stalls to float in the air. What triggered these images to me? I don’t know… maybe because they are all skilled performances of different kinds. And the singers? She sings with the love of a mother squeezing grated apple into juice for a sick child, while he sings the sacrifice of his love for her happiness.
Cafe de Los Maestros left me with a desperate feeling of how I wish I could just play something, anything, with even just a tenth of their skill.
Café de Los Maestros trailer