Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

From Benny Goodman to Atahualpa Yupanqui

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

From Benny Goodman to Atahualpa Yupanqui

Article excerpt

There are a pair of musical groups in Buenos Aires that perform the task of making music with infinite relish, total commitment and untrammeled verve. One is Les Luthiers and the other is La Banda Elastica. The former creates comedy with good music and the latter creates good music with comedy. The nexus of the two is Ernesto Acher.

In 1986 Acher left Les Luthiers and invited seven of Argentina's leading musicians to "recover all of music's playfulness and pleasure." This desire to recreate favorite rhythms and have a good time producing the best sounds--punctuated here and there by hilarious gags--brought forth, in 1987, La Banda Elastica. Four years, several awards and a number of tours later, their dedication to satisfying the most discriminating musical tastes while bringing enjoyment to others and themselves remains undiminished.

The original eight members of La Banda Elastica have achieved this feat while remaining together and playing better every day. Ernesto Acher (assorted winds, keyboards and vocal), Hugo Pierre (alto and soprano sax, clarinet), Juan Amaral (bass, guitar and vocal), Ricardo Lew (guitars and percussion), Enrique Varela (saxes, clarinet and vocal), Carlos Constantini (trumpet, flugelhorn and keyboards), Jorge Navarro (keyboards and vocal), and Enrique Roizner (percussion), together now in the "Third Edition" of La Banda Elastica, graciously collect the praises of the music establishment and the audience.

All members of the group have ample talent but the show unmistakably bears the overall stamp of Ernesto Acher and benefits enormously from his theatrical flair. There are jokes, high jinks and comic effects from start to finish, and when the concert is over Acher and his comrades say goodbye to their audience in the foyer of the theater, shaking hands with one and all.

To start things off, the program is presented rolled in a rubber band. It lists the compositions that will "probably" be played as well as the "certain performers."

The concert begins with a darkened stage which then fills up with fireflies created by special lighting effects. Transitions from one theme to the next are helped along by comic accompaniments: linguistic puns such as "Sweet Georgia Brown" rendered in word-for-word translation as "Dulce Jorgelina Marron," jokes by trumpeter-humorist Carlos Constantini, visual gags such as musical scores flying through the air or aerial combat with paper darts. Throughout the show, the eight performers maintain an unspoken communication and exchange looks and, with perfect timing, exit and enter the stage to form quartets, trios and duos. With each pause they exchange instruments or form new combinations. At given moments one or another will perform as soloist, with each receiving equal time in the spotlight.

The carefully crafted, yet flexible, program includes flamenco, bossa nova, blues, rock, tango, Argentine folklore, salsa and musical comedy with a pair of puppets created and handled by Acher and Constantini. Although La Banda Elastica's routines do not cater to classical tastes--or to jazz buffs--they do in fact draw members of the artistic community, intellectuals and, generally, youthful souls from 14 to 80 years of age. In the words of one concert-goer, everyone leaves the hall floating "one meter off the floor with happiness."

Ernesto Acher took time out of his busy schedule to talk to Americas Magazine about La Banda Elastica and his role as its "non-leader."

Americas: It wouldn't surprise me if, in addition to being a well-known composer, professor, architect, singer, saxophonist and leader of La Banda Elastica, you pursued some activity your public didn't know about, some hobby or unrealized ambition?

Ernesto Acher: Well, there are several. I think this may have something to do with my training as an architect. I actually was an architect. In a sense it was a mistaken choice of career. …

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