Button Accordion and Bandoneon Music
From Northern Uruguay
When we think of South American traditional music the regions that usually surface in our minds are Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and the Andes. And each country in South America also provides music audiences with diverse music traditions differing per region, ethnic group makeup and history--Uruguay is no exception. In the past I’ve heard harp music from Uruguay, as well as, milonga from the Pampas region, (a predecessor to Argentine tango).
The jovial songs that appear on Los Gauchos (Uruguaian cowboys) De Roldán’s Folkways recording Button Accordion and Bandonoen Music from Northern Uruguay remind us that many folk music traditions are centered on folk and ballroom dances. Lead by button accordion player Walter Roldán, the folkloric quartet is comprised of an accordion, a bandoneon (Luis Alberto Vidiella), and two acoustic guitars (Bernardo Sanguinetti and Ricardo Cunha). They perform polkas, mazurkas, milongas, Maxixe (a predescesor of the Brazilian samba), waltzes, and Habaneras (dance music from Spain/Cuba).
The warm production certainly invites the feet to join the dances and it feels like these dance songs are wasted as I sit and listen to them while I work. Some favorites of mine are the milonga Como mi suegra which opens the CD, the polka La flor del bañada (The Marsh Flower) with its guitar arpeggios bouncing off the lilting accordion. Passionate vocals accentuate the hard “r” sound of the Spanish language. The mazurka that follows, The Gaucho in the Bar reminds me of Mexican rancheros and a little of Tex-Mex music (no surprises there since all of this Latin American music shares European roots). Also listen to the beautiful guitar work on The Little Polka of Tuna Cactus, which reminds me of folk music from Chile and Argentina.
And even if you have never heard traditional music from Uruguay previously the combination of accordion playing popular dance styles and the mix of Afro-Latin and European rhythms will sound familiar to your ears. Both instrumentals and songs appear on the recording along with plenty of stories in the liner notes. I have already listened to this recording several times and I enjoy it more each time. Traditional music isn’t just for academics researching musical styles, but can act as musical entertainment for the curious at heart and globetrotters.