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Body Chemistry

           ….And that's why I love live music.

Tonight two fellows from Trio Compadrito joined a fellow from Sexteto Porteño for a jam session at Café León. A fresh, raw, and promising energetic union. It was like watching a new couple with auspicious chemistry kiss for the first time. Bring it on, fellows!

Albums are wonderful ways to hear clean final products. “This is what we meant,” is what musicians say by imprinting an album (or whatever you do, now that everything is electronic). But actual audible noise is just the side effect of what I think music really is. I think “music” is the combustion of everybody's energetic focus. The energy passes through everybody's bodies and assumes the form of music on the way out. A mere external physical manifestation of that is the action of fingers on strings. Listening to a cd is fun, but it's like looking at an empty lobster shell and admiring its redness. If I go to see live music, I can eat the lobster myself. I can see the music happening.

I will defend long-term relationships to the death (provided they're motivated by active choice all around). But there's something thrilling about hearing what stays the same and what changes when guys I know and love mix it up and leave their habitual patterns behind. What's inherent, and what's habit?

The bandoneónist from Trio Compadrito sends his energy up. His comfortable space is when the energy is swirling around his top like a soft dreamy nimbus, elliptical and gentle. But sometimes when playing with Trio Compadrito, a distant note creeps into his music that says, “I feel unheard.” It would be easy for him to drift away. Tonight, however, he sounded fully there, all his teeth sunk into the union and the music.

The guitarist from Trio Compadrito sends his energy down. He roots his energy, straight and direct, right down into the ground, digging in with juicy satisfaction. But sometimes when playing with Trio Compadrito, his sounds tired and frustrated, like a husband who's been having the same argument with his wife every night before bed for too many years. Stay and keep fighting a fight that can't be won? Leave and lose a long shared history? See a little bit on the side? Tonight, however, the tightness was gone and in its place, the relaxed mental absorption of a child building a Lego rocket.

The bandoneónist from Sexteto Porteño is famous for producing the same comment in everybody, every time the Sexteto has a concert: “they sound just like the cd!” Which is my least favourite aspect of his oeuvre. He has a lot of technical mastery, which can make for a very clean sound, but that's not what excites me about him. When I look at him, I see a human animal who is shy around other human animals, and who speaks most naturally to music, not to other members of his own species. He looks like he feels awkward having to communicate outside of music. He pulls his energy protectively inward. But because it's pulled so powerfully in, it really comes out, stark naked, in his music. “I don't know why you bother to hide, if you're just going to say it all through your bandoneón,” I think. Right out of the heart chakra through his arms, earnest and raw and achingly sincere. And tonight, since it was all new, he left the “sounds like the cd” part behind.

The joy of being with someone for a long time is that you know what they're going to do.  The joy of being with someone brand new is that you don't.

There's a seamless smoothness to long-term couples who know each other very well. Feel Carlitos and Noëlia dance. They've created a new animal called a pareja. It takes a long time to make a pareja. It takes a long time to make a trio. And once you have, they're priceless. But the fireworks of seeing new energies that could unite very well learning to play together—that's priceless too!

Libertango. Astor Piazzolla. Trio Garufa.