Raul Jaurena, master of the bandoneon, was one of the most prominent bandoneon players of his time. His music played a very personal tribute to the influences of his native South America and his adopted hometown of New York. It combined the traditional roots of tango, as well as the tango of today.
The bandoneon influenced Jaurena’s life right from the cradle. He was raised in Uruguay and his father taught him how to play the instrument; at the age of eight he had already joined a tango orchestra. The fascination for this highly emotional music grabbed him and never let go. As a member of various renowned tango-ensembles in the 1960s and 1970s in Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela, Raul Jaurena lay the tracks for his career. In the beginning of his career he accompanied well-known tango singers Roberto Goyeneche and Edmundo Rivero and played with pianist Cesar Zagnoli and his quintet.
A performance together with Astor Piazzolla at the Montreal Jazz Festival inspired his musical development. The conservation of the musical spirit of Astor Piazzolla became his personal vocation. Jaurena’s tango interpretations are enriched by influences of jazz, his own arrangements and spontaneous improvisations. They fascinated a new generation of listeners and dancers. In 1990, he founded the New York Buenos Aires Connection ensemble and the New York Tango Trio with Pablo Aslan and Ethan Iverson.
His arrangements and his skills as a composer and a solo player made him equally popular both in the USA and in Europe. The ballet suite he composed in 1995 for the Irene Hultman Dance Company debuted in New York and was shortly after awarded the “Bessie”. During the same year he was invited to the White House and received a Grammy nomination for his CD Tango Bar. In 2007, he won a LATIN GRAMMY for best Tango Album for “Te amo Tango,” and received an ACE Award (Asocacion de cronistas de espectaculos de la ciudad de New York) for his professional trajectory. Over the years he took charge of the musical direction of many stage projects including his participation as arranger, composer and bandoneon player at the Thalia Spanish Theatre in New York. He played with Cuban Jazz saxophone player Paquito D’Rivera, as well as Yo Yo Ma, Giora Feidman, Tango Five and others.
As a soloist, he played Klezmer and Tango Music with prominent ensembles and orchestras throughout Europe. He performed at universities and schools in Hannover, Halle Kassel, Hamburg, Lubeck, Munter, Lingen, Landshut, Muhigorf, Heidelberg, Bonn, Kiel, Celle, Wurzburg, and Bremen. He toured regularly with Tango Five and singer Marga Mitchell and presented the program Amando a Buenos Aires at the Fiedrichsbau Theatre in Stuttgart, Germany with these artists. Jaurena performed with Tango Five with the Sudwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz, and gave a series of concerts with Giora Feidman in Boblingen, Balingen, Russelsheim Theatre, Wurzburg, Ludwigsburg, Bonn, Tuttlinge, Stadthalle, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany,
Highlight performances in the US include his participation in recognition of Pope Francis’s visit in Washington D.C along with the National Youth Orchestra of Uruguay. In New York City, Jaurena played at Merkin Concert Hall along with Russian violinist Nina Bellina, The North/South Chamber Orchestra with Conductor Max Lifchitz, the Little Orchestra Society at Lincoln Center along with conductor Dino Anagnost and at the Thalia Spanish Theatre. Jaurena also performed with the Orchestra Concertante of Chicago conducted by Hilel Kagan and performed a series of concerts with the Pan American Symphony Orquestra including the Opera Maria of Buenos Aires. He was invited as a special guest to the International Accordeon Festival in San Antonio, Texas and his show Tango & Tango had great success at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. Other performances include; The Cleveland Museum of Art World Music and Dance Series and the show Let’s Tango at East Carolina University.
International performances include the Centenary of La Cumparsita, with the Sodre Symphony Orchestra with Conductor Martin Garcia in Montevideo, Uruguay presenting Jaurena’s original symphonic arrangements honoring the famous creation of Gerardo Matos Rodríguez. He traveled to Israel to teach and perform for 18 years in a row at the Jerusalem International Klezmer Festival and also performed with the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra. Other performances include his participation at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival In Finland and his partnership with clarinetist Bernd Ruf in the “Jaurena Ruf Project” tango chamber music in Germany.
As the result of a continual search for new experiences, Jaurena’s music turned into something truly unique. It reflected the influences of different cultures as well as one hundred years of tango history. Raul Jaurena - the man that Astor Piazolla once called one of the greatest bandoneon players ever - enjoyed a truly a unique connection to his instrument. Genuine, open, touching, with stunning technical brilliance, his playing enriched and added an important facet to modern tango interpretation.