Aqui Tango

aqui-tango-pittsburgh-band

With a mission to educate the Pittsburgh community on traditional style tango music from Argentina going back to the 1920s, Aqui Tango is a local band working to make tango music relevant and accessible “aqui”—or “here”—in Pittsburgh. Aqui Tango also regularly performs at the Pittsburgh dance center in Bloomfield where tango dance enthusiasts gather each week to practice the dance. The band is also available for special events and weddings.

After a three-year hiatus, Aqui Tango is re-launching with new original compositions and upcoming performances. Founded more than 10 years ago, the group was originally known asTangeros de Ley. The name change to Aqui Tango—meaning “here tango”—speaks to the band’s mission to make authentic, traditional style tango music accessible to people here in Pittsburgh. Part of this accessibility is helping to educate people on the different styles of tango, specifically more traditional pieces dating back to the 1920s.

The band includes four members:
  • Ernesto Contenti, Accordionist, Vocalist & Co-Founder. Ernesto learned tango while growing up in Argentina, the birthplace of tango, and played with bands throughout Buenos Aires. Ernesto is the band’s vocalist and accordionist, and composes all of the original pieces played by Aqui Tango. He is also an entrepreneur and is the inventor of Pillowsonic, a music therapy device used to comfort hospitalized children.
  • Maureen Conlon Gutierrez, Violinist. Originally from Mexico, Maureen is a classically trained violinist who brings her training into her interpretation of tango. Maureen fell in love with this passionate genre of music four years ago when asked to join former band, Tangeros de Ley. Maureen’s website is located at maureenconlon.com
  • Jose Layo Puentes, Bassist.  A Venezuelan native, Jose joined Aqui Tango one year ago and is the band’s most recent member. In addition to tango, Jose is equally at home with other styles including classical, jazz, Venezuelan folk music, and salsa, all which play a part in his style and interpretation.
  • Tom “El Cacho” Roberts, Pianist.  Tom is the band’s native Pittsbugh member. Lovingly referred to as “El Cacho”—the band’s honorary Latino member—Tom is also known as member in the Ortner-Roberts duo where he plays Hot World Chamber Music, a unique mix of genres including swing, calypso, Harlem stride piano, early jazz, klezmer, gypsy, rembetika and valse musette.
In addition to the band’s Argentinean-born co-founder and original compositions, what makes Aqui Tango different is their selection of repertoire dating back to the very beginnings of tango, including works from Carlos Gardel. One of the most passionate genres of music, tango is becoming more and more popular in Pittsburgh. Aqui Tango is making the music available to the growing community of tango dancers and aficionados.

“As a classically trained musician, playing tango gives me the freedom to break out from my formal training and just let go,” said band member Maureen Conlon Gutierrez. “It allows me to add my own interpretation and passion to the music.”

Compared to modern tango that is played straight from sheet music from composers such as Astor Piazzola, Maureen describes traditional tango as much less angular—meaning musicians have freedom to interpret the music and improvise—while drawing a connection to folk or popular music. “Depending on the musician playing, you can have a completely different experience from one musician’s interpretation to the next,” said Maureen.

Aqui Tango has six original compositions written by Argentinean-born band member Ernesto Contenti. The song “Part of Me” is an original piece with lyrics in both English and Spanish, and describes Ernesto’s personal experience moving to Pittsburgh and assimilating to a new place that he now calls his hometown.

Contact Maureen Conlon to learn more or to book a performance.