Accordionist Chango Spasiuk of Argentina forges unique musical mix
by Danylo Peleschuk
PARSIPPANY, N.J. - Chango Spasiuk, a third-generation Ukrainian Argentinean -who refers to his own Ukrainian heritage as a source of influence for his music - has become known in world music circles for his mastery of the accordion.
Mr. Spasiuk plays in a lesser-known style dubbed "chamamé," an accordion-based derivative of tango, which stems from roots originally planted in northeastern Argentina. To forge a truly unique style of music, Mr. Spasiuk mixes the key ingredients of chamamé - a more complex rhythm coupled with a touch of European flavor - with various other forms of South American and African styles.
Horacio "Chango" Spasiuk was born in 1968 in Apostoles, in the province of Misiones, Argentina, which is situated near the Brazilian border. His Ukrainian heritage can be traced to his grandparents, who migrated to Argentina from Ukraine. He spent a great portion of his childhood surrounded by musical relatives; his father, Lucas, was a violinist who often played with his uncle Marcos, who sang. Mr. Spasiuk cites the childhood memories of family-wide musical sessions as a source of inspiration for his later material. It is, after all, the influence of Ukrainian polka which built for him such a strong musical basis.
Mr. Spasiuk first garnered public attention in 1988, playing live concerts and festivals, and building up his reputation before entering the studio to record albums. He established himself, first and foremost, as an Argentinean folk virtuoso.
Mr. Spasiuk's style is one completely of his own making, and it shows through his music. Although chamamé, in and of itself, is an eccentric blend of the music of several different cultures, Mr. Spasiuk dips specifically into his Ukrainian roots to put a European polka-type spin on many of his accordion pieces.
Chamamé, a musical style native to Argentina, acts as a pure representation of the culture; it reflects the particularly vast diversity of the Argentinean people.
The musical foundation of chamamé is a brew of several unique cultures - just like the people of Argentina itself. The modern-day Argentinean population is the result of a half-millennium's mix of freed African slaves, who brought with them upbeat rhythms, along with Jesuit missionaries, who introduced the widely popular style of baroque chamber music. Also thrown into the mix were 19th century immigrants from Eastern European countries who contributed their waltzes and polkas, the styles of music that Mr. Spasiuk specifically calls upon in his music.
Mr. Spasiuk's collection of recordings spans seven full-length albums. His latest release, "Tarafero de mis Pagos," is said to be his most prominent display of talent, as well as his most encompassing effort to date.
Mr. Spasiuk's albums have been noted by The New York Times, BBC radio, as well as other prominent news media.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, July 10, 2005, No. 28, Vol. LXXIII
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