ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Northeast Argentina is frontier country, a land of red earth and blazing heat tucked between the southernmost tip of Brazil and Paraguay. This remote rural countryside has produced one of the world's most dazzling accordion players. Chango Spasiuk has a new CD out called "Pynandi," and he's dedicated it to the place he grew up. Reviewer Banning Eyre says the album is a gem.

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BANNING EYRE: During the colonial era, northern Europeans took accordions all over the world. And ever since, folky wedding dances like the polka have been interbreeding with indigenous music styles in faraway lands. South America has produced some of the most elaborate hybrids, but even in that context, Chango Spasiuk stands out for his verve and virtuosity.

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EYRE: Notice the way Spasiuk revs the spirit of a European oom-pah-pah waltz into a cantering 12/8 feel. That's a feature of a style called chamame, which Spasiuk grew up with in Argentina's rural northeast. All that was a long time ago, these days he makes his home in Buenos Aires, where he composes for and performs with an ensemble that includes violin, guitar, double bass and percussion.

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EYRE: Music history is full of exceptional musicians who, like Chango Spasiuk, take lowbrow music from the countryside and transform it into sophisticated urbanite fare. Spasiuk subtitles his CD, memories of a barefoot childhood. And as much as the colors of jazz and classical music emerge in his sound, that rugged rural past always shines through.

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EYRE: The album "Pynandi" includes a semi-classical suite, a lonely romantic vocal number and a few bracing duo performances. The standout track might be the opener, "Tierra Colorada" or "Red Earth." This original composition sums up the spirit of Spasiuk's endeavor. He and his musicians dig in with gusto as pastoral reverie and cosmopolitan panache joyfully become one.

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SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is senior editor at Afropop.org. He reviewed "Pynandi" by Chango Spasiuk.

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