Chango Spasiuk was born in Apóstoles, a small village in Misiones, a rural north-eastern province with an unique culture. Set in the frontier region bordering southern Brazil and Paraguay, its society is the product of a complex process of fusion and interaction between contrasting elements of its population: indigenous Guaraní communities, Spanish Jesuit monks and later, Eastern European immigrants arriving in the late 19th century. Among the latter were many Ukrainians, and it is this community Chango’s grandparents came from.
It was out of this melting pot that chamamé emerged from, to become the most powerful folk music expression of the Argentine Northeast. Overshadowed by tango’s international status, chamamé, with its deep sense of swing, is not widely known outside Argentina. Having learned from his father, a violinist, and his uncle, a singer, and following in the footsteps of classic chamamé composers like Abitbol and Cocomarola, Spasiuk’s contribution to the revitalization of Argentine folk traditions can be compared to Astor Piazzolla’s signal influence on the development of tango.
While at home ‘El Chango’ is long considered the ‘guardian angel’ of chamamé, Spasiuk first caught international attention at WOMEX 2001, and has since been building his international profile. A fiery and sensitive virtuoso on the accordion, he displays an audacity rarely seen with musicians of this genre. His music is a rich mix of sound and rhythm, of light and shadow, where both heritage and synthesis, improvisation and composition, tradition and modernity play equal roles, making for an intense listening experience that moves beyond boundaries. An exceptionally expressive performer, Spasiuk taps into a higher animating spirit, playing like a man possessed, visibly transported amidst the affecting swirl of the category defying resonance of his enchanted squeezebox. His rapt, dervish-like stage presence and his extraordinary ensemble make for a music of profound beauty and feeling. While his artistry articulates a deep sense of melancholy - so much a part of Argentine social history - it also conveys a resilient optimism before the tragic destination of all human endeavours.
Chango Spasiuk has released six solo albums in Argentina, among which the many-awarded ‘Polcas de mi Tierra’ (1999). His first international release ‘Tarefero de mis Pagos’ (Piranha, 2004) won him a BBC Award for World Music (Best Newcomer 2005) as well as a Latin Grammy nomination in 2006. In the last few years, Chango has been building his international profile with a busy touring schedule in Europe and more recently, North America. His long-awaited new album ‘Pynandí, Los Descalzos’ (Barefoot) was released in spring 2009 to critical acclaim on WorldVillage/HarmoniaMundi, followed by tours in Europe and in the USA, including a concert at famed NYC Carnegie Hall.
2010 (the bicentenary year of Argentina’s independence) will see the spring release of a double ‘Best of’ collection of Chango’s music on Nascente Records, as well as ever expanding international touring. Definitely a name to watch!