Bandoneonist, composer and leader
(24 February 1892 – 29 September 1924)
Every tango lover has a personal vision towards the artists’ values, and that is all right, our taste and personal experiences define us in the choice of ones or others.
Certainly, when we talk about tango as song, there is an unanimous agreement in the incomparable figure of Carlos Gardel, something that does not happen when the opinion is about orchestras or the rest of the musicians or singers.
The case of Eduardo Arolas, is another exception, his extraordinary talent as composer, places him one a rank above the rest, what is a merit even greater if we take into account that in his time the major tango creators appeared. Let us remember musicians of the category of Agustín Bardi, Vicente Greco, Arturo De Bassi, Juan Carlos Cobián, Roberto Firpo, among so many others.
So Gardel and Arolas are, in my opinion, the basement of modern tango, the former, born French and porteño (Argentine from Buenos Aires) by adoption, the latter, Argentine with French parents.
Gifted with an incredible melodic creativity, he stepped into the musical environment as a modest player of guitar, his first instrument, introduced by his friend Ricardo González, (Muchila).
But the bandoneon will be responsible for his consecration and the faithful witness of his genius and his tormented life. Continue reading.
Pianist, leader and composer
(7 January 1903 – 12 January 1960)
He, as nobody else, knew how to combine the rhythmic cadence of tango with a harmonic structure, apparently simple, but full of nuances and subtleties.
He was not enrolled for any of the two streams of his time. His was neither a traditional orchestra, styled after Roberto Firpo or Francisco Canaro nor a follower of the De Caro renewal.
Di Sarli imposed a seal of his own; a different musical profile, which remained, unaltered throughout his prolonged career.
In the beginning, his sextet reveals us the influence of Osvaldo Fresedo. And certainly, I think there would have never been a Di Sarli had not existed a Fresedo. But, only as necessary forerunner of a style that, with time, would become a pure model with its own and differentiated nature.
He was a talented pianist, maybe one of the most important, who conducted his orchestra from his instrument, with which he mastered the synchrony and the performance of the outfit.
In his orchestral scheme there were not instrumental solos, the bandoneon section sang at times the melody, but it had an essentially rhythmic and danceable role. Only the violin was showcased in an extremely delicate way, on a brief solo or on a counter melody. Continue reading.
Singer and composer
(6 January 1922 – 24 February 1999)
Listening to Roberto Rufino when he sang “María” or “La novia ausente” or “Malena” or any of the tangos he had chosen for his repertoire, was to realize that that tango was unraveling little by little and that the words sprang up separately, without forsaking the whole that gathered them, with the proper strength they had to have in their context.
Rufino was that: a storyteller, a phraser, an interpreter that perfectly knew which was the meaning of what he was singing.
He was born on January 6, 1922, on 753 Agüero Street —in the heart of the neighborhood of el Abasto—, son of Lorenzo Rufino and Agustina Guirin, although in his birth certificate is written the day he was filed on the records, on the 8th day of that same month and year. A little bit yonder, on Agüero and Guardia Vieja Streets, the café O’Rondeman was placed, where Carlos Gardel attempted his early songs. A premonition? Maybe, because Rufino as well started at the old café of his neighborhood, which still was run by the Traverso brothers. But there is a further coincidence: in the same year, 1935, his father and Gardel died. And in 1936, a few days after the cortege which was mourning Carlitos to his final abode had passed along Corrientes street, El pibe del Abasto —as he was called since the early days at O’Rondeman, made his professional debut; he was also called El pibe Terremoto— at the Café El Nacional, as vocalist of the Francisco Rosse typical orchestra, to switch, a little bit later, to Petit Salón, with Antonio Bonavena orchestra, composer of “Pájaro ciego” and uncle of the would-be boxer.
But we are still in the singer’s prehistory. Continue reading.
Pianist and composer
(4 January 1888 – 14 November 1938)
He was an Oriental (Uruguayan) born in Montevideo on January 4, 1888. This is the exact date given by his nephew Bernardo, a pianist, who, besides exhibiting documents, stated that the right spelling of the family name is with “z” and not with “s”. As we found a certain generalized confusion about that, we think we have cleared out the issue.
Héctor Bates and Luis Bates (in La Historia del Tango) mention bibliographic references of the composer we are talking about. We include a summary of them:
«He was a little above one year old when he settled in Buenos Aires with his family. He studied up to third degree in grammar school, because he admitted he used to play truant. He carried out varied trades.
«His devotion for music was born after he heard Pacho who, by that time (1905), played at a café placed on Thames and Guayanas (now Niceto Vega).
«In his spare time he devoted himself to learn music: guitar, mandolin and violin. Finally he chose piano; his first lessons were taught by a hatter named Leopoldo, later he continued with Carlos Hernani Macchi. Continue reading.
Violinist, leader and composer
(2 January 1902 – 2 November 1968)
The eldest in a family of three musician brothers, Cayetano Puglisi was born in Messina, a region of Sicily (Italy). Emilio, a violinist like him, of an uneasy spirit, after enjoying the sweet smell of success in the Buenos Aires orchestras, played in international orchestras, even in the far distant Teheran (capital of Iran). José, instead, from the humblest place in the teatro “Colón” orchestra of Buenos Aires, carried out his career devoted to violoncello, totally apart from tango life.
Cayetano Puglisi arrived in Buenos Aires in 1909. A violin student, he was alumnus of the maestro Pessina, seeming to become a great player of so difficult instrument. In his beginnings, inclined to classical music, after playing a concert at the Teatro Nuevo, the La Prensa journal granted him a scholarship to polish his studies in Europe, a voyage he was unable to make because the World War burst out in 1914.
By those difficult times, the riverside cafés at the neighborhood of La Boca witnessed his early gigs, although his formal memories as for the name of partners lead us to the famous Iglesias barroom on Corrientes Street, lining up a trio with Carlos Marcucci (bandoneon) and Pedro Almirón (piano), the latter replaced by Robledo, none of them was older than 13. It was a trio of kids. Continue reading.
Guitar player, leader, composer and lyricist
(15 December 1915 – 10 March 1984)
Canet is the prototype of the classic tango guitarist, always ready to back with his guitar a tango vocalist. His influences date back to the style of the players that accompanied Gardel, Magaldi and Corsini.
He was one of the few guitarists that managed to stay away from Roberto Grela’s influence, creator of a major trend in tango. His style was deeply rooted and directly based on the classic guitar groups. On many of his performances he added to the guitar trio or quartet other string instruments: contrabass, violins and violoncello.
At age twelve his vocation awakened when he heard Ignacio Corsini and he was greatly struck by the guitar trio that backed the singer which was lined up by Armando Pagés, Rosendo Pesoa and Enrique Maciel.
By that time he lived in the neighborhood of La Paternal and used to go fishing to the Maldonado creek with a friend, a little older than him: Piero Hugo Bruno Fontana, who time later would become Hugo Del Carril. Continue reading.
Violinist, leader and composer
(14 December 1900 – 14 January 1976)
In 1949 D’Arienzo said: «In my point of view, tango is, above all, rhythm, nerve, strength and character. Early tango, that of the old stream (guardia vieja), had all that, and we must try not to ever lose it. Because we forgot that, Argentine tango entered into a crisis some years ago. Putting aside modesty, I did all was possible to make it reappear. In my opinion, a good part of the blame for tango decline is on the singers. There was a time when a tango orchestra was nothing else but a mere pretext for the singer´s featuring. The players, including the leader, were no more than accompanists of a somewhat popular star. For me, that can´t be. Tango is also music, as is already said. I would add that is essentially music. In consequence, the orchestra, which plays it, cannot be relegated to the background to spotlight only the singer. On the contrary, it is for the orchestras and not for the singers. The human voice is not, it should not be another thing but an instrument more in the orchestra. To sacrifice everything for the singer´s sake, for the star, is a mistake. I reacted against that mistake which caused the tango crisis and placed the orchestra in the foreground and the singer in his place. Furthermore, I tried to rescue for tango its masculine strength, which it had been losing through succesive circumstances. In that way in my interpretations I stamped the rhythm, the nerve, the strength and the character which distinguished it in the music world and which it had been losing for the above reasons.
Luckily, that crisis was temporary, and today tango has been re-established, our tango, with the vitality of its best times. My major pride is to have contributed to that renaissance of our popular music.» Continue reading.
Is celebrated in Argentina on December 11. This date was chosen to commemorate the birthday of two men: Carlos Gardel, a prominent figure in the history of tango, and Julio de Caro, the orchestra conductor in the tango genre.
We should thank composer Ben Molar for Establishment of National Tango Day. He came up with the idea that de Caro and Gardel were born on the same day, that is why he decided organize a special celebration. He presented his proposal to the Secretary of Culture of the Municipality in Buenos Aires, but he was refused. It took long 11 years and a final ultimatum to organize Tango Day and receive a coverage by mass media on his own. Finally it worked and Tango Day was organized in Buenos Aires on December 11, 1977. The same year the celebration of Tango Day was promoted to the national level.
Singer, actor, composer and lyricist
(7 December 1914 – 23 July 2002)
The very peculiar style of Alberto Castillo maybe has something to do with the mocking (humorous) grace of outskirts origin of Rosita Quiroga, Sofía Bozán or Tita Merello. But in no way these are influences; neither have they similarity among them nor Castillo resembles them. Simply, we could group them —and add them to the subsequent Elba Berón— because they are united by a common air, the same unpolished cadence.
However, when Castillo faces deep themes, the tenderness he conveys is striking. Definitively, he is a «voice that does not sound like any other’s voice», as the unforgettable Julián Centeya wisely said. Nor his style is like anyone’s; when he himself said that his peculiar phrasing was what the dancers needed —«people moved according to the nuances of my voice»—, He said to himself: «Here’s the thing!» (something that was needed, that is eagerly awaited), and he never deviated from that way of singing, of that natural style of tango, to which a detail of great importance must be added: his perfect intonation. Continue reading.
Pianist, leader, composer.
(2 December 1905 – 25 July 1995)
Of the greatest importance was, when his orchestra finally recorded in 1943, the arrival of Roberto Chanel, tough singer, with nasal sound and compadrito style, who left 31 recordings. To achieve a contrast, Pugliese included Alberto Morán as vocalist because of his dramatism, sensuality, his rare quality for the mezza voce and perfect match with the orchestral accompaniment. His appeal on women has never been equaled by any other singer. Morán left 48 recorded songs. Between 1949 and 1950, Jorge Vidal, another of the popular voices in the history of this orchestra, recorded only eight. Among the subsequent singers outstand, although with repertories of irregular quality, Jorge Maciel and Miguel Montero. Read more…