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“El Choclo” by Ángel D’Agostino y su Orquesta Típica with Ángel Vargas in vocals (1941)

Ángel Villoldo

Composer and lyricist
(16 February 1861 – 14 October 1919)

He bears the title of Father of Tango, a somewhat exaggerated qualification because there were many circumstances which originated our music. But his influence was so important in the beginnings and its development which made him deserve this designation.

He is the great transformer of the Spanish tanguillos, the cuplés, the habaneras, turning those musics into a River Plate rhythm.

A natural artist, he avoided no activity which enabled him to earn some money for a living. It is said that he was a typographer, circus clown and any other job he was required for.

He was also a cuarteador (a person taking care of an extra horse or joke of oxen for dragging uphill) in the neighborhoods far from downtown. He was a horserider who used to wait for the arrival of a big coach or a streetcar at the bottom of slopes to help them get out of the mud or to go uphill. This meant to fasten the vehicle with a rope tied to his horse and help it in the effort.

With a facility for writing, he devised stanzas for carnival costumed groups and numerous poems and prose writings for well-known magazines of the time: Caras y caretas, Fray Mocho and P.B.T.

All through his work is present the wit sarcasm, and his dialogues were thought for the common man’s tongue and were always referred to real situations in the leasehold houses, the neighborhood and, many times, to love affairs which portrayed the way of speaking and behavior of the lowest social level of our society.

His wit, his facility in speaking, helped him to mix up with payadores and to put forward performances of scarse formality and, sometimes, completely shameless.

Always accompanying himself on guitar, with a harmonica added, he succeeded in telling stories by singing, which encouraged the audiences at the low cafés and joints. Continue reading.

argentine tango, Buenos Aires, class, dance, history, investigation, lesson, milonguero

El Cachafaz Carmencita Calderón - Legendarios bailarines de nuestro tango

Ovidio José Benito Bianquet “El Cachafaz”

El Cachafaz

Dancer
(14 February 1885 – 7 February 1942)

His story is part of the tango mythology, a legend, today very few who had witnessed his life or his art remain. His image was captured on the film Tango, premiered in 1933, where he can be seen with his partner Carmencita Calderón, just a girl under 20 years old.

He looked like as if he were not very smart from waist downwards, with a well upright body, but with too much feet movement, possibly due to the film maker´s instructions, to attract people’s attention.

His nickname remained for our everyday history as his definitive first and last names: El Cachafaz.

According to the lunfardo dictionary by Adolfo Enrique Rodríguez, cachafaz, means: rascal, shameless, insolent, rogue, idler.

It is possible he had been and it is possible he had not, his face inspired doubts. Combed a la gomina (with a sticky paste), the hair tightly pulled backwards, Indian-like features and pock-marked, he always appeared with a serious countenance on pictures and on movies. Read more.

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Carmencita Calderón

See Carmencita Calderon and Juan Averna Homenaje al Cachafaz Glorias Argentinas de Mataderos

Carmencita Calderón

Dancer
(10 February 1905 – 31 October 2005)
The mythical partner of El Cachafaz.

In those early tango ambiences, with strong uncured brandy, with thick and cheap tobacco smoke, with tough quarrelsome rivalry, women scarcely showed their presence through foreign whores —mostly French— or girls from the interior popularly known as chinas.

The Buenos Aires dance was born bastard, macho and in the outskirts, so women had to wait for a long time before they were able to pass through those forbidden doors as well as the prudish society of the period. But tango waited for them and at its Customs granted safe-conducts to the dancing muses that came to bring light to the new dance floors in dancehalls and clubs that displaced the academias, bailongos and cabarutes.

For that it had to supress the impudence of its movements, transforming them into an intimate, sensual, in retreat, substance that encompassed a community whose feelings were untransferable and where men and women shared a common passion. One and the other created while dancing to the music beat, the man leading, marking bars and steps, the woman interpreting the way of answering and enjoying with her body what the male dancer was suggesting. Continue reading.

argentine tango, Buenos Aires, dance, history, milonguero

“Mi Dolor” by Héctor Varela y su Orquesta Típica (1953)

Héctor Varela

Bandoneonist, leader, arranger and composer
(29 January 1914 – 30 January 1987)

Luis Adolfo Sierra tells us in his book Historia de la orquesta típica: «Héctor Varela, lead bandoneon and arranger of the Juan D’Arienzo Orchestra, for ten years, identified himself with the trends of a genuine traditional origin, and his orchestra boasted, as major attraction, the precision of a difficult technical performance, in the middle of a very personal hasty rhythmic beat». And Jorge Palacio (Faruk) added: «And that is, exactly, what Varela strove for during his tango career: to play with his orchestra for dancers».

He was born in Avellaneda where he spent all his childhood and youth. He graduated as accountant but he never worked as such. He had his first studies of bandoneon with the teachers of his neighborhood, he later attended the conservatory led by maestro Eladio Blanco with whom, time later, he would play at the bandoneon section of Juan D’Arienzo. Continue reading.

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“Pocas palabras” by Ricardo Tanturi y su Orquesta Típica with Alberto Castillo in vocals (1941)

Ricardo Tanturi: El caballero del tango

Pianist, leader and composer
(27 January 1905 – 24 January 1973)

The turn for records came in 1937 with an unforgettable piece recorded for Odeón, containing the instrumental version of “Tierrita” tango by Agustín Bardi, and “A la luz del candil”, with music written by the talented Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores, cruel lyrics by Julio Navarrine, and sang by Carlos Ortega. But Tanturi’s great success would come in 1939 when he incorporated Alberto Castillo, a great attraction for the public. Castillo, with his perfect tune, master ability in the use of pitches and mezza voce, seduced the audience in many possible ways: with his exaggerated gestures, his masculine elegance and neat hair style, his gynecologist degree (obtained in 1942) and that sometimes intimate sometimes lively mood, all of which made a show of each and every tango. Continue reading.

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