When guitarist Matt Heaton’s band, Orquesta Atipica, put out its debut disc in the twilight of ’98, Dirty Linen (#82, 1999) wrote, “If you are a fan of Argentine tango, this is the recording for you. Orquesta Atipica revitalizes the Nuevo tango... Astor [Piazzolla] would no doubt be proud of these students.”
Full of crisp ensemble colors and fresh original compositions, yet united in a love for olde garde masters like Gardel, et al, Heaton’s fiery cast of band members dish up a stunning combination of musical moods and attitudes.
In addition to Heaton’s stand-out originals—“Ender’s Game,” “Tango Dog Go,” Orquesta Maneuvers in the Dark,” “Maybe Sometime, Probably Not,” and “Farewell, My Lovely”—“Dead Miser Waltz,” penned by the group’s pianist-cum-accordionist Michael Crane also shines.
In addition to the album’s striking repertoire and arrangements, the unlikely cast of characters deliverers gorgeous performances on every track. Matt Heaton, the deepest devotee of the tango genre, bought concert pianist Michael Crane an accordion in a second hand shop and asked him to “go!” He asked his wife Shannon, a stellar Irish traditional flautist, to dust off her silver flute and “just try playing along with this…” And he formed a jubilant rhythm section with jazz-cum-indie-rock bassist Ryan Hembrey (Pinetop Seven, Edith Frost).
Audiences and critics responded with glee. Read on for Reviews of Orquesta Atipica’s 1997 CD release, “Tango Dogs.” Then buy a copy today—this is back stock, people, and it will not last forever:
ACOUSTIC GUITAR, Teja Gerken, Dec 1998:
“Orquesta Atipica, led by guitarist Matthew Heaton, dishes up some of the best that modern tango has to offer… with a solid foundation in the music’s rich tradition, [the group] interacts in a mature manner, has a strong sense of melody, and uses enough drama to convey the genre’s strong emotion.”
ILLINOIS ENTERTAINER, Gwen Ihnat, Nov 1998:
“The Orquesta’s various instrumental musical compositions are simultaneously soothing and stirring, and altogether unusual, like a soundtrack for a cheerily psychedelic nature cartoon.”
DIRTY LINEN, June/July 1999, #82:
“If you are a fan of Argentine tango, this is the recording for you. Orquesta Atipica revitalizes the nuevo tango... the instrumentals are well balanced with no one player dominant. Flutist Shannon Heaton has a solid pleasant sound that is not thin in any of the registers, but rich and full. The variation between crisp staccato and graceful elision is lovely… Astor [Piazzolla] would no doubt be proud of these students.”
CLASSICAL FREE REED REVIEW, Gregory Vozar, Nov 1998:
“Orquesta offer listeners an engaging program of different tones, colors, and flavors. Among Heaton’s compositions, one of my favorites is ‘Tango Dog Go.’ The group sustains a curiously upbeat tempo in spite of the composition’s dark color and minor key. Flautists shannon Heaton’s apt tonguing of its complex melodic material and her breathy parallel octaves with Ryan Hembrey’s bass lend this piece a 1960’s ‘James Bond’ cool.”
“’Tango Dogs’ is an interesting and original entre into the Tango Nuevo arena and a worthwhile puchase for anyone interested in hearing how new musicians are expanding the boundaries of the tango.”
NEW CITY, Dave Chamberlain, April 30, 1998:
“By focusing on the tango, and forming from it an almost tango jazz, Orquesta Atipica trills and bows its way through rolling melody to quiet, almost baiting results. Unlike many of the other Latin-born native musics, the tango form is the least dynamic, and thus for it to succeed, the musicians need to set mood and texture in the same breath as musical prowess. The Orquesta does this by evoking as much South American imagery as it does the lush sensations of lust the tango traditionally inspires.”