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Here Live No Fish

Written by: Tango No. 9

Here Live No Fish, the group’s third album, includes tango standards, original compositions, reinterpreted classics from Piazzolla to Prokofiev, and a guest vocal turn by indie music legend Jonathan Richman — songs that at once pay homage to tango’s seductive past while crafting a new vision of the music’s storied future.

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Catharine Clune – Violin
Isabel Douglass – Accordion + Bandoneon
Greg Stephens – Trombone
Joshua Raoul Brody – Piano

Special Guest: Jonathan Richman – Vocal on “Amor de Mis Amores”

Produced by Catharine Clune & Tango No. 9
Recorded & Mixed May-July, 2007 by John Finkbeiner at New, Improved Recording, Oakland, CA

Mastered by Ken Lee at Ken Lee Mastering, Oakland, California
Band photography by Anne Hamersky (Thanks to Radio Habana and the Marsh)
Art by Dorab Wolfherring at SPILLHOUSE
Jonathan Richman appears courtesy of Vapor Records.


If you’re not all over the map, what the hell do you need a map for?

One thing that is very Tango No. 9 is our eclecticism. We play fast and loose with the instrumentation: Isabel Douglass plays both the traditional bandoneon and the “renegade” accordion, and Greg Stephens is completely off the chart with his trombone replacing the string bass. We run a wide gamut of repertoire, drawing on many sources, styles and times, from Argentina to Russia to Mexico, tango to classical to jazz, early century to mid to late. And we like to vary our approaches to the material, sometimes fastidiously faithful to the original, sometimes wildly irreverent, but at all times with great love and respect.

After our first CD, All them Cats in Recoleta, (our “Piazzolla cover album”), we learned that there was a wealth of material awaiting us in the standard repertoire, which we addressed in our second CD, Radio Valencia, (the “dance album”). In those first two outings, we did our best to honor specific traditions; in Here Live No Fish, we showcase our breadth of interest, so I think of this as our “Tango No. 9 album”.

After a fruitful collaboration working on choreographer Jose Navarrete’s Valentino, we encouraged Argentine composer and good friend Alejandro Oyuela to give us more. He honored us with the title song of our second CD and followed that with a suite dedicated to Tango Con Fusión, an all-woman dance group, from which we drew this album’s “Milonga Campera”; Alejandro explained to us that although the milonga is ordinarily a very fast-paced dance, much quicker than its cousin, the tango, the country-style milonga campera is quite the opposite, positively languid in tempo.

Greg Stephens’ old friend Dmitri Matheny graciously allowed us to cover his “Sea of Tranquility”, drawn from a suite of moon-related themes. Greg himself contributes “Here Live No Fish”, based on a true story, and “Syncopath”, (originally “Avant-Garde Tango”) which we finally wrestled into submission after years of struggle. My own “Sultango” is dedicated to Ms. Amy Kretkowski of Iowa City, who commissioned it for a TV show she produced, but it is truly indebted to maestro Piazzolla, whose later vamp-based compositions like “Tanguedia III” served as its template (although Greg hears overtones of Poulenc in that unison line in the fourth verse, while I thought it was a cop from King Crimson), and to our fearless leader Catharine Clune, who insisted I put in a bridge. We also return to the source with three numbers from very different periods of Piazzolla’s own catalogue: “Street Tango” from his dance suite The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night, “Luz y Sombra” from the days in Paris when he studied with Nadia Boulanger, and “Libertango”, the piece that rivals “Adios Nonino” as his most famous.

We dip back into the classic tango repertoire with Ricardo Tanturi’s milonga “Mozo Guapo”, Anselmo Aieta’s lovely waltz “Palomita Blanca”, and the grand-daddy of popular tango, Gerardo H.M. Rodriguez’s “La Cumparsita”. And we scour some unlikely outskirts for fresh game: Jonathan Richman introduced us to Veracruz star Agustin Lara, and I went back to one of my favorite pieces of my childhood — and ancestry — to adapt Prokofiev’s gavotte to waltz time.

— Notes by Joshua Raoul Brody