The news came unexpectedly and many fans could hardly believe it. Sexteto Milonguero, a fixture in the world of tango, is coming to an end! The popular orchestra inspired thousands of fans to dance tango during its concert tours. It will leave a huge void in the current Argentine music scene. Here's a look back at an orchestra that made history.
An orchestra for dancing tango
In 2006 singer and guitarist Javier Di Ciriaco founded Sexteto Milonguero in Buenos Aires. Although he had initially performed with a rock band in his youth (his own band called Sentencia), he had learned to love tango in his early twenties. His idea was to create a tango orchestra with a repertoire that was easy to dance to but, unlike most other bands, it should not represent a single style, such as that of D'Arienzo.
After Javier Di Ciriaco spent some time with the Orchestra of the National Academy of Tango , he met musician friends who shared his dream. Their common goal was to play traditional music from different orchestras but to give their own modern interpretation to the known pieces instead of just copying them. While some of the founding members were already tango musicians, others came from jazz, classical music or folklore. Whatever the case, they were all enthusiastic about tango and due to their varied musical backgrounds, brought color to the sound of the new orchestra.
The first album "Pa 'que Bailen"
The musicians were Marisol Canessa and Mariano Laplume on violins, Mauricio Jost and Diego Braconi on bandoneóns, Cristian Sepúlveda on double bass and Gervasio Ledesma on piano. Singer Javier Di Ciriaco also played guitar on some of the pieces.
The young group then rehearsed their repertoire. They harmonized well with each other and already recorded their first album after four months "Pa 'que Bailen" ("So that you dance") .This gave the band sufficient material to present itself as an orchestra to promoters. By the way, all the musicians gradually learnt to dance, so that they understood the needs of the dancers at the milongas and which music attracted people to dance tango.
Start of international concert tours
First the new orchestra played at milongas in Buenos Aires. Because of its lively, rousing performances, Sexteto Milonguero became increasingly well-known not only to the locals, but to foreign tourists also. As a result, the first invitations from abroad soon began. Javier Di Ciriaco was already familiar with traveling as a music group. He had previously experienced a European tour with an orchestra from his hometown of Córdoba, so he knew the challenges involved.
Sexteto Milonguero's first major European trip took place in 2007 and was a resounding success. From then on, Javier managed all trips and tours, and he is proud that, despite tight schedules, not a single concert had to be canceled over the years.
Artistically the group always worked together as a team. The selection of the pieces and the arrangements were worked out together. Everyone could contribute their ideas and there was no hierarchy. Javier Di Ciriaco, however, was the contact person for organizers and the media in all organizational questions.
The album "7" - fresh tango to dance to
In 2010 the second album with the title "7" was released. It was technically even more sophisticated than the first, the group was perfectly coordinated and had further increased their musical level. In addition, the legendary energy, the fire and the joy of playing in their live performances could be captured. The album contained several folklore pieces - a special feature that also distinguished the orchestra in its live performances. The magazine "Tangodanza" wrote: "This is simply lively tango: cheeky, happy, extremely versatile and striding forward, ideally suited for dancing."
Shows full of passion
In addition to Europe, the musicians have now also been invited to other South American countries, Asia and the USA. They contributed to make tango music popular in many countries. They gained enthusiastic fans everywhere, their concerts were full of passion and carried away the audience. They literally brought the halls to a boil!
The charismatic personality of Javier Di Ciriaco, his clear tenor voice and sophisticated singing technique, paired with expressive emotion, contributed a lot to the success. The musicians have been guests at international festivals, large and small milongas, open air stages, in factories and palaces.
In 2012 there were several new formations. Initially, the former seven members actually became six. (The singer is usually not counted in a typical Sexteto de Tango.) There was now only one bandoneon player, the exceptionally talented Mauricio Jost. There was also a change of violinists and the new member was Gustavo Garay. Juan Rivero joined as the new pianist.
In 2013 a beautiful bilingual illustrated book about the orchestra was published with the title "Letras de Tango interpretadas por el Sexteto Milonguero" by Heinke Fiedler. The book is dedicated to the lyrics of the pieces of music that make up the group's repertoire. It also contains many atmospheric black and white photos. It's available through Tanguentro (see below).
New ways with the album "Doble o Nada"
The third CD also followed in 2013 "Doble o Nada ", an outstanding double album. In addition to well-known tangos, it also included original compositions by all musicians for the first time. Argentine folklore songs were recorded again. They broke new ground.
“Even after the first notes of the nine original compositions of the Sexteto, it becomes clear why this ensemble can rightly be counted among the flagships of the current musical culture in Argentina. ... Small solos and countless compositional details show the virtuoso skills of the artists ”, was the statement of the magazine "Tangodanza".
Furthermore, Sexteto Milonguero appeared in 2014 in a film by the director German Kral . His documentary "The Tango Bars of Buenos Aires" shows the group giving a concert at the bar El Floreal. The film was later shown on television.
On the road: Annual tours across Europe
The annual major European tour finally became an integral part of the orchestra's life. In spring and summer, the group travelled to almost all European countries to give concerts. In between, Javier Di Ciriaco occasionally had guest appearances with other orchestras, for example the Color Tango Orchestra 2013 at the Tango Festival in Istanbul. When the musicians weren't on trips abroad, they performed at milongas in their hometown of Buenos Aires and in other Argentine cities.
Documentary "Joyride with Sexteto Milonguero"
In the years 2016-2017 a very interesting documentary was made about the group, the road movie "Joyride with Sexteto Milonguero". The Hungarian director Eszter Nordin accompanied the band on several trips with her camera crew. The film gives a rare insight into what goes on behind the scenes, as well as during the live performances. The movie will be screened on August 27, 2020 at the "Five Lakes Film Festival" in Germany. (See below for more information, trailers and DVD.)
Solo projects by Javier Di Ciriaco
After ten years as a tango singer performing for the dancing audience, Javier Di Ciriaco gradually began to yearn to fulfill his other musical passions more intensely. In addition to the demanding tangos by Piazzolla, these include pop, rock and folklore. Fado and flamenco are also part of it - there are no stylistic limits.
The first solo album "Íntimo"
In the years following, Javier recorded the solo album "Íntimo" in Germany in 2016 together with the pianist Burkhard Heßler. "Íntimo" It contains tangos and zambas arranged for piano and vocals, as well as pop songs, some of them own compositions. The two musicians then gave several live concerts. Javier accompanied himself on the guitar. He was able to bring his impressive voice to full advantage, for example in the sung version of Astor Piazzolla's masterpiece "Oblivion". The soulful album received a lot of recognition and made the audience want more.
New formation, unmistakable sound
At Sexteto Milonguero there were two further changes. Ignacio Claramonte succeeded Mauricio Jost on the bandoneón, while Alejandro Abbonizio took over the double bass instead of Cristian Sepúlveda. Although only two of the founding members were remaining, the group was able to integrate the new musicians perfectly once again. It never lost its unmistakable, powerful sound, the slightly jazzy "Sexteto Milonguero Swing".
In 2017, in addition to the annual European tour, there was also a major tour through the United States. From Washington to Seattle, the orchestra was again able to convince a new audience. Many well-known professional dancers were meanwhile declared fans of Sexteto Milonguero and were happy to be inspired by their live music for their show dances while traveling.
Music videos for their own songs
In 2019 the music video for Javier's composition was released: "Sabrás "which was shot during a tour in southern Italy. The Sexteto then published another video for the rocking new composition "Mi Raza", which had been created on Tenerife in the impressive volcanic landscape of the Teide. Another album with original compositions was in the planning stage, but was postponed several times due to the change in staff and ultimately not realized.
New success at the Argentine folklore festival
In February 2020 Sexteto Milonguero celebrated another great success in front of thousands of spectators at the annual "Festival Nacionál de Musica Popular Argentina" in Baradero, Buenos Aires Province. In addition to Tango, Zamba and Chacarera, the musicians also presented titles that were more in the direction of pop and electronic tango. With unbridled musical energy, they were able to inspire audiences outside of the tango world.
Dissolution of the orchestra
After that there were a few shows in Buenos Aires. The last one took place at the beginning of March at a milonga in the suburb of Lanús, where one could dance again to their spirited tango. In July 2020, Javier Di Ciriaco finally announced the end of the activities of Sexteto Milonguero. According to Javier, the reason for the group's surprising breakup is not the Corona crisis, but his desire for artistic change. The quiet time of the lockdown gave him all the more clarity about his needs and feelings, the singer said. In addition, due to the pandemic, the group had no long-term commitments, which made it easier to end.
The ambassadors of modern tango
The special achievement of the orchestra was to develop a new audience worldwide for tango played live. Their appearance and stage presence were often more reminiscent of a rock band than a traditional tango formation. With their incomparable joy in playing, the musicians were also able to inspire younger people to dance tango. Thus they paved the way for the new orchestras from Argentina, which are now also traveling the world and showing their talent to a growing audience.
Film screening "Joyride with Sexteto Milonguero"
If you want to experience Sexteto Milonguero again live on the cinema screen: The documentary "Joyride with Sexteto Milonguero" by the Hungarian filmmaker Eszter Nordin will be shown on Thursday, August 27, 2020 at Seefeld Castle on the Ammersee in Germany. The performance runs as a cinema premiere as part of this year's Five Lakes Film Festival, in the original with English subtitles. The director will come from London to attend the film talk.
The only one-time film screening also has a historical component, given the fact that this internationally known ensemble has now disbanded and there will therefore be no further live performances. Against this background, it is even more worthwhile, albeit with a little sadness, to watch this tango road movie from one of the legendary group's major tours. Tickets can be pre-ordered from August 15th.
“When I saw the Sexteto Milonguero live for the first time at a milonga - I think it was at the "Schlachthof Milonga" a few years ago - something magical happened in me that we all experience from time to time.
On the one hand, the powerful current of this musical interpretation pulled me into the Ronda, to dance. But I stayed at the bar for a long time, as if rooted to the spot, in the middle of the river, unable to move, so as not to miss anything of this performance, to soak it up to the last drop of its essence, like a sponge. "
(Tango teacher, author and organizer)
Thank you for the wonderful music to dance tango!
“With Sexteto Milonguero, we and our guests experienced great tango evenings! As the host of the "Milonga at Schlachthof" in Munich, we had engaged the group for many years. Every milonga with them was a bombastic celebration and the audience was completely enthusiastic, as were we. The unique energy and sparkling passion of this orquesta grabbed you immediately. So much enthusiasm for playing and dancing paired with masterful musicality and tango feeling - that was unique!
We wish Javier Di Ciriaco and the other musicians of the Sexteto all the best for the future. We also say thank you for your wonderful music and your important contribution to keeping tango alive. "
Fabian and Michaela Lugo
(Tango teachers, show dancers, musicians, DJs and organizers)
Dare to try something new is important
“Sexteto Milonguero has brought a new impetus to the sometimes slightly dusty tango scene. With their concerts they have largely freed tango of its clichés and impressively demonstrated that tango is more than just a sad thought that you can dance and its rhythmic accompaniment. With passion, drama, eros and lots of humor, they literally rocked every dance hall.
As a tango band they have tried again and again to open up the boundaries of a classical tango dance orchestra to world music. Their ambitions as excellent musicians went far beyond the demands of most dancers. They have certainly given new impetus to tango. In my last conversation (about a year ago) with Javier, he informed me that he was in the mood for something new. I can understand him well.
For many people, tango is everything. In order to remain genuinely creative as an artist and not just get caught up in one thing, it is also important to keep moving away and dare to try something new. Along the way, I wish him and his musicians all the best. "
David Tobias Schneider
(Tango teacher, musician & actor)
Sexteto Milonguero on Facebook
Book “Letras de Tango interpretadas por el Sexteto Milonguero”, posters, autograph cards, CDs
Ralf Sartori (Tango à la carte)
Here you will find the current dates of the Tango Cinema Nights at Seefeld Castle.
Fabian and Michaela Lugo (Tango Lugo)
Tango school in Munich, which regularly invited the Sexteto Milonguero over a period of 10 years.
David Tobias Schneider
Tango teacher, musician and actor
has published a very readable, personal farewell to Sexteto Milonguero.
Sexteto Milonguero will be missed by its fans. But we will continue to dance tango to their great music. Muchas gracias y adios!
Photos: Sexteto Milonguero, color portrait photos of the musicians: Thomas Lackner