Juan María Solare

Real name: Solare, Juan María
Pianist, leader and composer
(11 August 1966 - )
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Ricardo Bruno

olare occupies a special position in the evolution of tango. This is not an assessment, but it intends to be a description: his tango is not the tango of the past century, nor it wants to be. Piazzolla preferred to label his music as city music to avoid slippery classifications; in the case of Solare, the expression urban sound is more adequate, in order to avoid sketching a definition that would possibly be obsolete in a few years, because we are talking about an artist in full evolution.

Solare’s formal education at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, today IUNA, Instituto Universitario Nacional del Arte, is rooted in classical music, as pianist and as composer. This, which is audible by attentive ears, is also one of the strong points of his sound: the famous tango dirt, in his case, is a clean dirt.

The key question is: Why do I have to listen to Solare? What does he contribute? I answer: Any composer will contribute something as long as his music is sincere and does not copy too much from others; he will contribute with what is specifically his and with what he differs from his peers. Let’s look for that specific thing then.

We shall find Juan María Solare’s music somewhere between avant garde classical music and new tango, like two poles or two attractors that define a magnetic field.

Like Piazzolla who had models such as Ginastera, Bartók or Stravinsky, Juan María Solare, as composer, has Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio or John Cage, (renowned) composers of the avant-garde classical music, as reference figures. A clear example of this interaction between experimental music and new tango is Gertango for solo violin: this piece is based on typical tango rhythms and on sounds, noises and instrumental effects that, unmistakably, come from Piazzollian tango (sandpaper, pizzicato, "tamburo", whip) but combined (that is to say, a compound) in such a way that the final result has nothing to do with a traditional tango. Fortunately, let us add: if we want to listen to traditional tango, we do not have to look for it in the generation of those who try to stay away from that traditional tango. Will it be progressive tango? Or simply today tango?

Let us take for example the rendition of Carlos Gardel’s “Melodía de arrabal” that Juan María has recorded as a piano solo. Solare does not try to contend with Gardel in his own field (which would be quite scarcely cautious) but to do with his piano what is impossible to do with the human voice. Because of that, in his piano rendition of “Melodía de arrabal” appear rhythmical elements (Pugliesian yumbas, even a certain percussive violence): don’t try to find in Solare an imitation but a look towards aspects still not heard in widely heard pieces. (“Melodía de arrabal” is part of the Gardel al piano album, symbolically released on June 24, 2014).

Can Solare’s tango be danced? Yes, it can. At least, many of them can. In fact, he has written a category of danceable tangos, milongas and walzes (ironically he names them as «mercenary» ones) which can be easily recognized because they have titles that come from the River Plate jargon (not necessarily from lunfardo), such as “Sale con fritas” (It’s accompanied with French fries), “Se va a poner fulero” (It’s goin’ to be dangerous) or “Batime la justa” (Tell me the truth).

Solare has also delved into electronic tango, with titles such as “Glosa por la rosa“ or “Retiro, 5:55 am“ In these cases, he is closer to Latin rock. Unlike many groups of electronic tango in which the use of a rhythm machine is what defines the genre (mutatis mutandis like in disco music), the essential thing in Solare’s electrotangos is that he includes synthesized sounds (that is to say they do not emulate instrumental sounds). In a long interview with Eduardo Aldiser, Solare used this allegory: «Yes, metaphorically, instrumental sounds are what the pianist says, electroacoustic sounds are what he thinks»

Another of the important tango subgenres Solare has approached, and with several tens of pieces, is the vocal genre. «I’m suspicious of the human beings who don’t sing», he has stated in some interview. Some of his melodies will be easy to be sung, others will require a professional singer – like in everything. The following are among the lyricists of his tango-songs: Javier Adúriz, Pedro Lastra, Alfonsina Storni, Luis Alposta, Francisco de Quevedo (XVI century, why not?), Ricardo Bruno, Meri Lao and Solare himself.

For the last part I have postponed the biographical aspects, not because they are completely unnecessary, but because they are the least important: every musician has studied with someone, has played here or there, has been awarded with this or another prize; and, finally, all biographies are nearly the same, with slight changes of names, places and dates.

Solare was born in Buenos Aires and lived until he was 26 in the same neighborhood Aníbal Troilo lived. Then he got a scholarship of the German government to study as a postgraduate in Germany where he is now based. In the University of Bremen he leads the Orquesta no Típica since 2002; that makes Bremen one of the few European cities where tango is taught at an university level. He has compiled and arranged four albums of tango sheet-music of different periods (from the Guardia Vieja to our days) for the Ricordi music house in Munich and has appeared in a great number of international tango festivals (Granada, Sevilla, Seinäoki in Finland, Bariloche). He has recorded —besides the above mentioned Gardel al piano album— the now mythical disc as soloist Tango monologues, the CD Tango nomade, along with the saxophone player Eduardo Kohan, and the short disc Acuarelas junto al río inmóvil (solo piano). And the following are yet to come.