Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cabeceo and its flip side, the power of the peripheral vision

Focusing our vision all the way across the dance halls, seeking an eye contact with the one and the only one we want to spend the proverbial quarter of an hour of a tanda ... I'm sure all of us remember the thrill of a successful cabeceo. The meeting of the eyes, the soft spark. We also remember the occasional misfires, those embarrassing moments when your supposedly laser-precise line of sight hits an unintended "target". Ouch!

But in this post I am going to concentrate on a different side of cabeceo: on our ability to see without focusing our vision. When I look around a milonga floor, checking who is around and who is up for what, it feels as if my vision stays purposefully slightly unfocused. Have you ever noticed that? Have you noticed that whenever your eyes meet, by chance, with the eyes of someone you don't intend to dance with, you end up slightly unfocusing and shifting your gaze with a very peculiar haste? The task there is not to see anything other than by using your peripheral vision. The direct look is strictly reserved for just one (but extremely important) target. Must not focus on anything else.
The whole world becomes a blur as the magic of the dance unfolds
"Mia en la Milonga" by Mauro Moreno
The feeling gets even stronger once I actually get on the dance floor, once we start moving in a ronda. There are so many people moving around, maybe approaching you too fast from behind, maybe taking a far too risky back step when they are in front of you, maybe shifting out of their lane to the side, or possibly spinning in a wild windmill of a spirited giro and who knows how tightly controlled it is. Dangerous feels, dangerous feet, dangerous speed, dangerous moments of the music, you gotta be watching it all (at least if you are a leader :). But wait, that's not all. A friend is sitting at a front row of tables, and your eyes meet, is it time for a smile and a silent promise of a conversation or a tanda soon? And who just walked through the door and stopped there momentarily, appraising the dance floor or looking for a place to sit? Oh, and look at this couple in the middle of the pista, fooling around as if nobody's watching? Wait, and what about this Mr. Celebrity dancing over there, with an unbelievably sour expression on his bored face - who is there with him, who's making him suffer? The point is, you can do a lot of people-watching at a milonga, and it may be really tempting to keep doing it as you dance.

Dave Donatiu with  Talyaa Liera
at their wedding reception/
cancer fundraising last month 
But is it even a good idea to focus on all the other people as you dance? I can't get one "attention / focus" tango class experience out of my head. It was many years ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. The instructor has been Dave Donatiu, then an itinerant tango psychologist, and his workshop topics were all crazy and enlightening at the same time. For the attention & focus class, one exercise was for the leaders or the followers to watch, intently, a dancer from another pair, as we tangoed around the room. Another one was to keep a conversation about something important you've done recently. You couldn't believe how much it ruined the quality of dance! It really helped me understand that intention and listening aren't some abstract tango metaphors. Fully focusing on your partner and yourself is so critically important!

Ideally, it means that one should be able to appraise the dangers, to navigate, and to keep my partner safe, with the peripheral vision alone, almost without shifting the focus. And if our eyes meet someone else's gaze, then we can let it slip out of focus right away... Indeed, I find it hard to observe who is doing what when I dissolve in the music and in the moment of dance. Take a look at Mauro Moreno's painting again. Do you see what I see? The world around blurs out of focus as the couple is overcome by togetherness and being in the moment.

On top of the fortress walls of Kumbalgarh, India
This complete, undivided attention thing, which is so intense that it makes the outside distractions disappear, always reminds me of a fable I read in a popular psychology book as a kid. It was about a Maharajah in India trying to fill a Grand Vizier vacancy at his court. The candidate's test was to circle the city, walking on top of its fortress walls, carrying a brimming full bowl of milk without spilling. All of them fail soon, except for one hopeful who keeps on walking. The Maharajah sends his soldiers to the walls to yell and to shoot in the air, but still the guy with the bowl of milk doesn't spill a drop. Afterwards, the ruler asks his new chief minister: "Have you seen the soldiers trying to scare you? Have you heard their shots?" - "No, my lord, I haven't seen anything, I was watching the milk".

More recently, I discovered that the fable originally came from a grownup book ... a book which can actually teach us a lot more about tango. "An Actor Prepares"is Konstantin Stanislavski's original intro into his "System" of acting, and it includes an amazing chapter on creative attention. There, Stanislavski's alter ego teacher introduces the concept of 3 circles of attention to his acting students. The smallest circle of focus / of attention is roughly equivalent to being alone in public, not seeing anything beyond the footprint of one's body. The medium circle, perhaps the size of a small room, allows us to pay attention to people and objects surrounding us, without losing the complete focus on what we are doing; but when the circle of attention increases even further, our attention escapes and drifts away, and only refocusing on something very small and very close by will restore your attentiveness. If my tango focus escapes into the Stanislavski's largest circle of attention, I often try to refocus my complete attention on a single flashpoint - on the tip of the heel of my partner's free leg. (And to me, tango has a lot in common with improvisational acting, where the music, the verse, and the emotion provide a loose blueprint to what will unravel through the expressive interaction of our physical bodies, and where we experience becoming other, imaginary people in the same way as the actor lives a role).

Keeping our focus on ourselves and our dance, and devoting just enough peripheral vision to the surroundings without spreading our creative attention thin, is about more than just navigating the floor and being aware of the physical objects around us. I also try hard to keep all the social disappointments and slights, all the unfriendly gossip and caustic remarks, outside of my circle of attention, where they barely register in my peripheral vision. The cabeceo power of laser-sharp focusing on a point can make all the bad stuff fade from out of focus!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Milonga Sin Nombre playlist, Feb 21 2015

Milonga Sin Nombre has just become a four-hours party, and you may notice that my playlist track count has become 3-digital! And what a nice crowd it was!

We started a few minutes behind schedule and the first tanda (of course late instrumental Di Sarli again!) didn't have anyone on the floor yet, but then guest after guest joined in quick succession.
001. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental "Rodríguez Peña" 1956 3:18
002. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental "Bahia Blanca" 1957 2:54
003. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental "Indio Manso" 1958 2:57
It surprised me quite a bit when a guest without any Russian roots recognized the tune of this cortina, made out of an all-times Soviet hit, originally a Latvian song with the new lyrics by a renowned Russian poet retelling a legendary episode of life of a Georgian artist who covered a whole city street with flowers to prove his devotion to his beloved.
004. Alla Pugacheva "Million Scarlet Roses" 1982 0:19
005. Enrique Rodriguez - Armando Moreno "Mi piba linda" 1943 2:51
006. Enrique Rodriguez - Roberto Flores  "Son cosas de bandoneon" 1936 2:42
007. Enrique Rodriguez - Armando Moreno "Como has cambiado pebeta" 1942 2:37
And this cortina, as well as the following one, come from one of the pioneers of Russian rock - the most mysterious and the least known of them all, Zhanna of aliases and reportedly fake ids and surprising disappearings and returns to public life:
008. Zhanna Aguzarova "Cats" 1987 0:21
I think it wouldn't be an exaggeration to claim that "the" tango vals of the 1990s and early 2000s was "Corazon de oro", "The heart of gold", a tune originally recorded by Francisco Canaro in 1928 in tribute to his mother Rafaela. We all grew in the shadow of this grand slow vals, but few people know that for his present to Mom, Canaro recycled an unsuccessful tango he recorded less than a year earlier. Listen starting from 33 seconds on:
Early on, the slow Canaro valses with their deliberate main beat were the only ones I understood; then I left them behind, but more recently I discovered a lot more nuance in these old records, and I
am tempted to play them again. Here is a tanda with Ada Falcón, the green-eyed muse of Canaro's 1930s. Canaro changed the tempo and the musical structure of his tangos to showcase Ada's powerful voice, but he wouldn't leave his wife to be with her. By 1942, the not-too-well-hidden affair came to light, with Canaro's wife threatening divorce and financial ruin to Francisco, and death to Ada. The singer quit, never to perform again, locking herself in a convent and staying there for ... 60 years! She died at the age of 96, having far outlived all her famed suitors. (The last of the tree records may be too complicated for one of the starting tandas of a milonga... as early as in 1933, Canaro already appears to be concerned more about showcasing Ada's voice than about satisfying the dancers' tastes).
009. Francisco Canaro - Ada Falcón "Yo No Se Que Me Han Hecho Tus Ojos" 1930 3:24
010. Francisco Canaro - Ada Falcón "Corazon de Oro (Vals)" 1930 3:15
011. Francisco Canaro - Ada Falcón "El trovero" 1933 2:57
012. Zhanna Aguzarova "Old Hotel" 1987 0:22
013. Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray "Yo no se llorar" 1933 2:36
014. Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray  "En la huella del dolor" 1934 2:48
015. Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray "Isla de Capri" 1935 3:16
016. Alla Pugacheva "Million Scarlet Roses" 1982 0:19
017. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "La trilla" 1940 2:21
018. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "El Pollo Ricardo" 1940 2:25
019. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Marejada" 1941 2:32
020. Zhanna Aguzarova "Cats" 1987 0:21
021. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos  "De punta a punta (milonga)" 1939 2:21
022. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos "Sácale punta" 1938 2:18
023. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos "Ella Es Asi - milonga" 1938 2:35
024. Zhanna Aguzarova "Old Hotel" 1987 0:22
Of course "Invierno" is the most famous record of the following Canaro's tanda, but I'm getting more and more affectionate to "Mi noche triste", the best remix of the 1915 guitar classic which forever changed the world of tango by introducing sadness, loss, and nostalgia to its lyrics:
025. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida "Yo tambien sone" 1936 3:09
026. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida  "Mi noche triste" 1936 2:45
027. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida "Invierno" 1937 3:25
028. Alla Pugacheva "Million Scarlet Roses" 1982 0:19
029. Ricardo Tanturi - Alberto Castillo "La vida es corta" 1941 2:25
030. Ricardo Tanturi - Alberto Castillo  "Noches de Colón" 1941 2:38
031. Ricardo Tanturi - Alberto Castillo "Decile Que Vuelva" 1942 2:33
032. Zhanna Aguzarova "Cats" 1987 0:21
033. Orquesta Típica Víctor - Ángel Vargas "Sin Rumbo Fijo (vals)" 1938 2:18
034. Orquesta Típica Víctor (dir. Adolfo Carabelli) - Carlos Lafuente  "Dulce cariño" 1932 2:38
035. Orquesta Tipica Victor - Lita Morales "Noches de invierno" 1937 2:47
036. Zhanna Aguzarova "Old Hotel" 1987 0:22
037. Francisco Lomuto - Jorge Omar  "Nostalgias" 1936 3:05
038. Francisco Lomuto - Fernando Diaz  "Quiero verte una vez mas" 1940 2:29
039. Francisco Lomuto - Jorge Omar  "Caricias" 1937 2:52
040. Alla Pugacheva "Million Scarlet Roses" 1982 0:19
041. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "Manana zarpa un barco" 1942 3:22
042. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda "Pa' mi es igual" 1942 3:15
043. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "No te apures, Carablanca" 1942 3:29
044. Zhanna Aguzarova "Cats" 1987 0:21
045. Carlos Di Sarli - Alberto Podestá "Entre Pitada Y Pitada" 1942 2:33
046. Carlos Di Sarli - Roberto Rufino "Zorzal" 1941 2:40
047. Carlos Di Sarli Roberto Rufino "Yo Soy De San Telmo" 1943 2:20
048. Zhanna Aguzarova "Old Hotel" 1987 0:22
049. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Fama  "Te quiero todavia" 1939 2:54
050. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Fama  "Lo pasao paso" 1939 2:36
051. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Fama  "Al subir al bajar" 1939 3:05
052. Alla Pugacheva "Million Scarlet Roses" 1982 0:19
053. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "Derecho viejo" 1939 2:24
054. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "Champagne tango" 1938 2:26
055. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "El flete" 1936 2:58
056. The Blues Brothers  "Theme From Rawhide 3" 1980 0:20
I quizzed the event-goers ahead of time if we should include a chacarera (I think for the first time in local milonga history!) but I didn't see some of these chacarera-lovers in attendance, so I asked for a show of hands again. Looks like we got 4 couples ready to roll? So it's a go! (If you ever needs mnemonics for the chacarera sequence of steps, then I suggest D8OZOZO+ as in diamonds - two small circles - full circle - zapateo+sarandeo etc.)
057. "Chacarera del Rancho"  2:21
(break for announcements and raffle, then on to valses) 
058. Aníbal Troilo - Francisco Fiorentino  "Temblando" 1944 3:06
059. Aníbal Troilo - Francisco Fiorentino  "Pedacito de cielo" 1942 2:50
060. Aníbal Troilo - Instrumental  "Un placer" 1942 2:19
061. Zhanna Aguzarova "Old Hotel" 1987 0:22
062. Carlos di Sarli - Alberto Podestá  "Al compás del corazón" 1942 3:18
063. Carlos di Sarli - Alberto Podestá  "Tu el cielo y tu" 1944 2:59
064. Carlos di Sarli - Alberto Podestá  "Volver a vernos" 1942 2:48
065. Alla Pugacheva "Million Scarlet Roses" 1982 0:19
066. Francisco Lomuto - Jorge Omar "A la gran muñeca" 1936 3:01
067. Francisco Lomuto - Jorge Omar  "Por la vuelta" 1939 2:34
068. Francisco Lomuto - Jorge Omar  "Gólgota" 1938 2:23
069. Zhanna Aguzarova "Cats" 1987 0:21
070. "Orquesta Tipica Victor - Milonga De Los Fortines - Mariano Balcarce" 1937 2:52
071. Orquesta Tipica Victor  "Cacareando" 1933 2:45
072. "Emilio Pellejero - Mi Vieja Linda - Enalmar De Maria" 1941 2:26
073. Zhanna Aguzarova "Old Hotel" 1987 0:22
074. Donato Racciatti - Olga Delgrossi "Hasta siempre amor" 1958 2:57
075. Donato Racciatti - Olga Delgrossi "Sus Ojos Se Cerraron" 1956 2:47
076. "Donato Racciatti - Nina Miranda / Gloria" 1952 2:47
077. Alla Pugacheva "Million Scarlet Roses" 1982 0:19
078. Miguel Caló - Raúl Berón  "Tristezas de la calle Corrientes" 1942 2:46
079. Miguel Caló - Raúl Berón  "Trasnochando" 1942 3:04
080. Miguel Caló - Raúl Berón  "Corazón no le hagas caso" 1942 3:00
081. Zhanna Aguzarova "Cats" 1987 0:21
The third of De Angelis valses in this tanda has an unusual texture and powerful drive, and it turns out to be... not quite Argentinian.aThe composer is Argentine, and the first guitar recording has been made there in the 1930s, only to be promptly forgotten. The score got a second chance in the 1950s, when a Peruvian-inspired "vals criollo" was suddenly all the rage. Soon it was discovered by a visiting Frechwoman, Edit Piaf, and never lost its popularity in the decades which ensued. Lots of modern remixes, often not waltz-y at all. Edit Piaf's French lyrics version below:
082. Alfredo de Angelis - Carlos Dante, Julio Martel  "Soñar y nada más" 1944 3:08
083. Alfredo de Angelis - Carlos Dante "A Magaldi" 1947 2:50
084. Alfredo de Angelis - Carlos Dante "Que nadie sepa mi sufrir" 1953 2:50

085. Zhanna Aguzarova "Old Hotel" 1987 0:22
086. Ángel D'Agostino - Ángel Vargas"Ahora No Me Conocés" 1941 2:35
087. Ángel D'Agostino - Ángel Vargas "Ninguna" 1942 2:57
088. Ángel D'Agostino - Ángel Vargas (glosas: Julián Centeya) "Café "Dominguez"" 1955 2:59
089. Zhanna Aguzarova "Old Hotel" 1987 0:22
090. Donato, Edgardo - Romeo Gavioli "La Melodía Del Corazón" 1940 3:18
091. Donato, Edgardo  - Romeo Gavioli, Lita Morales "Mi Serenata" 1940 3:02
092. Donato, Edgardo - Horacio Lagos, Romeo Gavioli, Lita Morales "Sinfonía De Arrabal" 1940 3:07
093. Alla Pugacheva "Million Scarlet Roses" 1982 0:19
094. Alfredo de Angelis - Instrumental "Mi dolor" 1957 2:51
095. Alfredo de Angelis - Instrumental "Felicia" 1969 2:47
096. Alfredo de Angelis - Carlos Dante "Carillon de La Merced" 1957 2:50
097. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
Before the last tanda rolls out, there is a belated request for a birthday vals, and I have a one-of-a-kind vals just for this purpose:
098. Osváldo Pugliese - Instrumental  "Desde el alma" 1985 3:07
099. Osváldo Pugliese - Roberto Chanel "Rondando Tu Esquina" 1943 2:48
100. Osváldo Pugliese - Roberto Chanel "Corrientes Y Esmeralda" 1944 2:49
101. Osváldo Pugliese - Jorge Maciel  "Remembranza" 1956 3:41
102. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "La cumparsita" 1951 3:49
103. Kayah & Bregovic  "To Nie Ptak [Not a Bird]" 1999 4:40
(103 total)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Milonga del Centro playlist, Feb 1 2015

I reviewed the previous Del Centro playlist thinking how many facets of Di Sarli's 42 years of music I've left unexplored. Closing a few of those gaps today, starting from his mature period's instrumentals (rather than from the 1950s beautiful instrumental records which I've played in the opening tandas too many times!)
01. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Ensueños" 1943 2:44
02. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Marejada" 1941 2:32
03. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Siete Palabras" 1945 2:44
04. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
For the classic D'Arienzo tanda, I tried to pick a few of the "relatively" more melodic pieces
05. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "Derecho viejo" 1939 2:21
06. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "Melodia porteña" 1937 2:48
07. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "Que noche" 1937 2:30
The milonga just barely started yet the dancing pairs
already begin to fill Del Centro's beautiful space

08. Victor Tsoy  "Gruppa Krovi (cortina)"  0:36
The other day, a linguist facebook friend has posted an image of a Russian icon of Simeon's Prophecy (Luke 2:29–35) and ... it instantly reminded me that I haven't played Troilo's valses for a long time! Yes, the connection here is in the third of the valses, which sings of Our Lady of Sorrows and the tears of the heart pierced by the seven blades of the Prophecy. That's how my own heart cries of pain of not seeing you, continue the verses!
09. Aníbal Troilo - Floreal Ruiz, Alberto Marino  "Palomita blanca" 1944 3:21
10. Anibal Troilo - Floreal Ruiz  "Lloraras, Lloraras" 1945 2:52
11. Aníbal Troilo - Floreal Ruiz, Edmundo Rivero  "Lagrimitas de mi corazón" 1948 2:59
12. "Lady Be Good - Sol Hoopii Trio" 0:23
13. Enrique Rodriguez - Armando Moreno "Como Se Pianta La Vida" 1940 2:25
14. Enrique Rodriguez - Armando Moreno  "El encopao" 1942 2:34
15. Enrique Rodríguez - Armando Moreno "Llorar por una mujer" 1941 2:47
16. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
Podesta was still a teenager when he recorded these hits with Di Sarli, but what depth of talent!
17. Carlos Di Sarli - Alberto Podestá  "No esta" 1942 2:45
18. Carlos Di Sarli - Alberto Podestá  "Lloran las campanas" 1944 2:58
19. Carlos Di Sarli - Alberto Podestá  "Nada" 1944 2:45
20. The Blues Brothers  "Theme From Rawhide 3" 1980 0:20
The slower milongas, including the two Canaro - Famá 1933 classics which literally blazed the trail of the rebirth of milonga dance - before the dancers and the musicians got even more courageous and the tempos accelerated
21. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Famá  "Milonga sentimental" 1933 3:10
22. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Famá  "Milonga del 900" 1933 2:55
23. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida  "Larga las penas" 1935 3:09
24. "Lady Be Good - Sol Hoopii Trio" 0:23
I love the intensity and drive of these more rhythmic Donato records (even though I'm always torn between played them and choosing more romantic Donato's ... so much great music, so few tandas in a night!). It may be the first time I played "A media luz", probably the most famous of Edgardo Donato's compositions, so popular with the musicians that it's got a zillion of "not for the dancers" versions. But for us tangueros, I think Donato's original recording of this ballad of a downtown drugs-and-vice den of hushed lights is absolutely the best.
25. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos "Lagrimas" 1939 2:50
26. Edgardo Donato - Lita Morales, Romeo Gavioli "Yo Te Amo" 1940 2:50
27. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos "A Media Luz" 1941 2:31
28. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
Whenever I played Demare's tangos, I was always drawn to the dramatic vocals with Juan Carlos Miranda, and overlooked Demare's other excellent records with Horacio Quintana. This tanda tries to fix this omission: 
29. Lucio Demare - Horacio Quintana "Torrente" 1944 3:10
30. Lucio Demare - Horacio Quintana "Igual que un bandoneon" 1945 3:02
31. Lucio Demare - Horacio Quintana "Solamente ella" 1944 3:15
32. Victor Tsoy  "Gruppa Krovi (cortina)"  0:36
33. Alfredo de Angelis - Floreal Ruiz "Mi novia de ayer (vals)" 1944 2:36
34. Alfredo de Angelis - Carlos Dante  "A Magaldi" 1947 2:50
35. Alfredo de Angelis - Carlos Dante, Julio Martel  "Soñar y nada más" 1944 3:08
36. "Lady Be Good - Sol Hoopii Trio" 0:23
"Watch out for the cops!" - "Ahh, they caught me!!" - "Yes, I've been imprisoned by her beautiful eyes, and I may never see freedom again" - that's about how the opening verse of "Araca la cana" would sound in English...
37. Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray  "Araca la cana" 1933 2:26
38. Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray "Vida mia" 1933 3:23
39. Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray "Nieblas del riachuelo" 1937 2:25
40. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
Some of my favorite Di Sarli's in this 1940 tanda, energetic and literally bursting with rhythm:
41. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "La trilla" 1940 2:21
42. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Shusheta" 1940 2:22
43. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Nobleza de arrabal" 1940 2:07
44. The Blues Brothers  "Theme From Rawhide 3" 1980 0:20

Milonga lover's tanda (the strange cackling sounds in "Cacareando" are actually an old one-eyed tired rooster's cock-a-doodle-doo, and an old hen's cluck-cluck, which sound "quiquiriquí" and "co-có" in Spanish)
45. Orquesta Tipica Victor - Mariano Balcarce "Milonga De Los Fortines" 1937 2:52
46. Orquesta Tipica Victor - Carlos Lafuente "Cacareando" 1933 2:45
47. Emilio Pellejero - Enalmar De Maria "Mi Vieja Linda" 1941 2:26
48. "Lady Be Good - Sol Hoopii Trio" 0:23
Ledesma and Lesica sing together, with Varela behind them
(from Tangos al Bardo)
I think I spent the longest time piecing together this dramatic tanda, then worrying that it won't fly - only to see the floor full of dancers, phew :) It must have been my only 2nd time to play either Varela or Ledesma, and the very first tanda where they appeared together. But we've just celebrated Hector Varela's 101th anniversary on Jan. 29th, and it was absolutely worth a tribute. Varela had a long career as a bandoneonist and arranger for Juan D'Arienzo, and when he assembled his own band in the 1950s, most people expected a kind of D'Arienzo remixed. But the sound of Varela's tangos turned out to be very, very different, and his melodic and dramatic tangos are much loved by many older Argentines who grew up listening to radio and TV in the 1960s and 1970s. Varela's orchestra was truly blessed by the voice of Argentino Ledesma, one of the most talented singers of Argentine tango. In 1956 Ledesma left Varela to join the Di Sarli's orchestra; their collaboration was nothing short of stunning and it could have produced our best tandas ever, had it lasted. But after just a few months, Columbia Records realized just how much it lost with the departure of Ledesma from their orchestra (led by Hector Varela), and they made the singer a generous counter-offer he couldn't resist. Carlos Di Sarli understood. But he regretted the lost opportunity until his death.

María Olivera & Gustavo dance to "Fueron tres años"
in a video Maria posted as a tribute for Varela's birthday

49. Héctor Varela - Argentino Ledesma  "Fueron tres años" 1956 3:28
50. Héctor Varela - Argentino Ledesma "Muchacha" 1956 3:19
51. Héctor Varela - Argentino Ledesma "Si me hablaras corazon" 1956 3:18
52. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
53. Ricardo Tanturi - Enrique Campos "Oigo Tu Voz" 1943 3:07
54. Ricardo Tanturi - Enrique Campos "Que nunca me falte" 1943 2:42
55. Ricardo Tanturi - Enrique Campos "La Abandone Y No Sabia" 1944 2:47

56. Victor Tsoy  "Gruppa Krovi (cortina)"  0:36
57. Rodolfo Biagi - Alberto Lagos  "Amor y vals" 1942 2:48
58. Rodolfo Biagi - Teofilo Ibanez  "Viejo porton (vals)" 1938 2:27
59. Rodolfo Biagi - Jorge Ortiz  "Cuatro palabras (vals)" 1941 2:20
60. "Lady Be Good - Sol Hoopii Trio" 0:23
61. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "Malena" 1942 2:57
62. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "No te apures, Carablanca" 1942 3:29
63. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "Manana zarpa un barco" 1942 3:22
64. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
65. Pedro Laurenz - Alberto Podestá  "Alma de bohemio" 1943 2:43
66. Pedro Laurenz - Alberto Podestá  "Recien" 1943 2:43
67. Pedro Laurenz - Alberto Podestá  "Todo" 1943 2:37
68. The Blues Brothers  "Theme From Rawhide 3" 1980 0:20
And the final milonga tanda is ... the Aces of Candombe!
69. Miguel Caló - Raúl Berón  "Azabache" 1942 3:05
70. Alberto Castillo  "El Gatito en el Tejado" 1957 2:37
71. Romeo Gavioli y su orquesta típica  "Tamboriles" 1956 2:56
72. "Lady Be Good - Sol Hoopii Trio" 0:23
73. Carlos di Sarli - Roberto Rufino  "Adiós te vas" 1943 2:30
74. Carlos di Sarli - Roberto Rufino  "Charlemos" 1941 2:30
75. Carlos di Sarli - Roberto Rufino  "Patotero sentimental" 1941 2:34
76. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
... then cutting straight to Pugliese and the Gran Finale.
77. Osváldo Pugliese - Instrumental "Chique" 1943 3:14
78. Osvaldo Pugliese - Roberto Chanel  "Rondando tu esquina" 1945 2:48
79. Osvaldo Pugliese - Jorge Maciel  "Remembranza" 1956 3:41
80. Alfredo de Angelis - Instrumental "La cumparsita (Matos Rodriguez)" 1961 3:33
81. Goran Bregovic  "Maki Maki" 2009 3:33
(plus another post-Cumparsita track, by a special request from Jose Luis)
82. Hugo Diaz   "Milonga Para Una Armonica" 1973 4:25
(82 total)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Practilonga del Centro playlist, Jan 12, 2015

Carlos di Sarli
Jan 7, 1903 - Jan 12, 1960
It's great to be back from the traditional New Year's break at San Diego Tango Festival and to mingle again with the hometown tango crowd! Of course as it happens on Del Centro's Monday nights, the impromptu class at the beginning of the practilonga stretched for good 40 minutes, and I kept shifting valses and milongas down the list, and adding more Di Sarli tandas. For it's El Señor del Tango's birth month, and the 55th anniversary of his death, too. But more on Di Sarli later...
01. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "El jaguel" 1956 2:52
02. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Don Juan (El taita del barrio)" 1951 2:47
03. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Cara sucia" 1952 2:20
04. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "Champagne tango" 1938 2:26
05. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "El flete" 1936 2:58
06. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "La viruta" 1936 2:20
07. Carlos di Sarli - Roberto Rufino "Tristeza Marina" 1943 3:09
08. Carlos di Sarli - Roberto Rufino  "Adiós te vas" 1943 2:30
09. Carlos di Sarli - Roberto Rufino  "Otra vez carnaval (Noches de carnaval)" 1942 2:41
10. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos  "Lagrimas" 1939 2:50
11. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos  "A oscuras" 1941 2:48
12. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos "Se Va La Vida" 1936 2:39
Street cars started running in Bahia Blanca when Carlos was 3
OK, time to start Di Sarli's story now, since we reached Bahía Blanca, Carlos di Sarli's hometown and an unsurpassed tango masterpiece he composed in its honor. A town where he got an eye injury in a childhood accident in his father's gun shop, condemning Carlos di Sarli to wearing dark sunglasses for the rest of his life. A town from where he ran away to Argentina's North at 13, to play tangos in defiance of his father's wish for his son to become a classical pianist. A town where he assembled the first of his many tango orchestras, at the age of 16.
13. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Bahía Blanca" 1957 2:52
Di Sarli kept playing tangos for 42 years, changing music styles so much that one might think that the records were done by completely different orchestras - and in a sense they were very different, but always achieved superb balance of rhythm and melody, of unwavering beat and complexity. I realize that I couldn't even attempt to cover "all Di Sarli terrain" in this playlist. So far we've got more rhythmic 1950s instrumental remixes of very old tangos in the first tanda; a classic vocal of Rufino in the 2nd; and more flowery 1950s instrumentals, withDi Sarli's own compositions. By the end of the list, we won't even have touched super-rhythmic, Juan D'Arienzo-influenced late 30s; famous vocals of Podesta and Duran; and really dramatic vocal records from the 1950s; and not a single vals of Di Sarli's here. It's just impossible to exhaust all his masterpieces!
14. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Comme il faut" 1951 2:28
15. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Indio manso" 1958 2:53
16. Orquesta Tipica Victor - Lita Morales "Noches de invierno" 1937 2:47
17. Orquesta Típica Víctor - Angel Vargas"Sin Rumbo Fijo (vals)" 1938 2:18
18. Orquesta Tipica Victor, M. Pomar  "Temo" 1940 2:55
19. Enrique Rodríguez - Armando Moreno "Llorar por una mujer" 1941 2:47
20. Enrique Rodríguez - Armando Moreno "Marinero" 1943 3:10
21. Enrique Rodríguez - Armando Moreno "Como has cambiado pebeta" 1942 2:37
22. Quinteto Pirincho - Instrumental "Milongon" 1952 2:29
23. Quinteto Pirincho - Instrumental "Corralera" 1956 2:05
24. Quinteto Pirincho (Francisco Canaro) "Orillera (Milonga)"  2:27
25. Ángel D'Agostino - Instrumental "Café Domínguez (palabras de Julian Centeya)" 1955 2:56
26. Ángel D'Agostino - Ángel Vargas  "Tres esquinas" 1941 3:05
27. Ángel D'Agostino - Ángel Vargas "Ahora No Me Conocés" 1941 2:35
The last of the three valses is what conjured up this tanda for me. The other day, gliding down, mile after mile, from a Uinta ski tour, I couldn't get one line of a verse from my head, "sangrar mi corazón por ti!". At first just recited without a tune, eventually it grew into a whole musical phrase and I still couldn't get what it was. At last, the previous section of the music floated up in my memory, and then it was - aha, old vals, I know you!
28. Rodolfo Biagi - Instrumental "Lagrimas Y Sonrisas (vals)" 1941 2:41
29. Rodolfo Biagi - Andrés Falgás "El ultimo adios (vals)" 1940 2:09
30. Rodolfo Biagi - Andrés Falgás "Dejame Amarte Aunque Sea un Dia (vals)" 1939 2:55
31. Miguel Caló - Raúl Berón Miguel Calo "Miguel Caló - Raúl Berón / Jamas Retornaras" 1996 2:31
32. Miguel Calo - Raul Beron  "Que te importa que te llore" 1942 2:44
33. Miguel Caló - Raúl Berón  "Corazón no le hagas caso" 1942-09-29 3:00
Di Sarli's Sextet in 1929
The first of many BsAs Di Sarli orchestras, the amazing sextet which he convened at 24, much under influence of Osvaldo Fresedo's Old Guard. But this sound surpasses most of the best of the Old Guard classics. For me, the powerful, slightly archaic Sexteto Carlos di Sarli may be the most beloved period of his music. Then the hard times of the Great Depression came and di Sarli had to quit in 1931, for 6 long years. Oldtimers remember that his competitors fanned rumors that his dark glasses were a yeta, a jynx bringing bad luck to the listeners, and even some superstitious Argentines are afraid to utter his name to this day - for them, Di Sarli can only be mentioned as El Tuerto, the One-Eyed. The superstitions never made it easier for El Tuerto to win audiences!
34. Sexteto Carlos di Sarli - Inst  "Racing Club" 1930 2:34
35. Sexteto Carlos di Sarli - Inst  "Belen" 1929 2:44
36. Sexteto Carlos di Sarli - Inst  "Pobre yo" 1929 2:12
A foxy tanda in lieu of the milongas :) Mostly Russian-themed this time, the middle tune being a great remix of a Russian Silver Age classic which I already described in this blog.
37. Enrique Rodríguez - Armando Moreno "Se ve el tren"  3:11
38. Enrique Rodríguez - Armando Moreno "No Te Apures Por Dios Postillon"  2:59
39. Enrique Rodríguez - Armando Moreno "Maruska" 1943 2:07
40. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida  "Mi noche triste" 1936 2:45
41. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida "Ojos negros que fascinan" 1935 2:51
42. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida "Invierno" 1937 3:26
43. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "No te apures, Carablanca" 1942 3:29
44. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "Manana zarpa un barco" 1942 3:22
45. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "Malena" 1942 2:57
Second Pirincho tanda for the night. Why didn't I add Di Sarli's valses, for good measure ;) ?
46. Quinteto Pirincho (Francisco Canaro) "Desde el alma (Vals)" 1952 3:01
47. Quinteto Pirincho - Instrumental  "Maria esther (vals)" 1943 2:31
48. Quinteto Pirincho (Francisco Canaro) "Vibraciones del alma (Vals)" 1956 2:53
49. Ángel D'Agostino - Ángel Vargas "Mano Blanca" 1944 2:43
50. Ángel D'Agostino - Ángel Vargas "Ninguna" 1942 2:59
51. Ángel D'Agostino - Ángel Vargas "No Vendrá" 1945 2:30
52. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos "El Adios" 1938 3:09
53. Edgardo Donato - Romeo Gavioli y Lita Morales "Mi Serenata" 1940  3:02
54. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos, Lita Morales y Romeo Gavioli "Sinfonía De Arrabal" 1940  3:07
Di Sarli's thick, full-bodied milongas are my absolute favorites
55. Carlos Di Sarli - Roberto Rufino "La Mulateada" 1941 2:22
56. Carlos Di Sarli - Roberto Rufino "Pena Mulata" 1941 2:27
57. Carlos Di Sarli - Roberto Rufino  "Cuando un viejo se enamora" 1942 2:14
I always preferred Biagi's "Todo te nombra" but I begin to appreciate Canaro-Fama's...
58. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Fama "Yo no se porque te quiero" 1934 3:10
59. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Fama "Todo te nombra" 1939 3:07
60. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Fama "Te quiero todavia" 1939 2:54
61. Osvaldo Fresedo Roberto Ray "Nieblas del riachuelo" 1937 2:25
62. Osvaldo Fresedo Roberto Ray "No quiero verte llorar" 1937 2:42
63. Osvaldo Fresedo Roberto Ray "Sollosos" 1937 3:27
64. Alfredo De Angelis - Instrumental "Pavadita 1958"  2:53
65. Alfredo De Angelis - Instrumental "Felicia 1969"  2:48
66. Alfredo de Angelis - Instrumental  "El Tango Club" 1957 2:40
67. Osváldo Pugliese "Nochero Soy" 1943 3:32
68. Osváldo Pugliese "Rondando Tu Esquina" 1943 2:48
69. Osváldo Pugliese "Recuerdo" 1944 2:39
70. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "La cumparsita" 1951 3:49
71. Carlos Libedinsky  "Otra Luna" 2006 3:43
(71 total)

Christmas Eve Milonga with QTANGO

Our community was truly blessed to host Erskine Maytorena and QTANGO for a series of workshops and live music gigs. I must say that Erskine elevated tango musicality teaching to such a qualitatively different level that every class may be a revelation even for such a dyed-in-the-wool tanguero as myself. One of the most amazing ingredients in the "workshop mix" is the direct assistance of live music. Whenever we were asked to distinguish overlayed staccato and legato themes, or to recognize the music cues used by the tango musicians to forewarn us about coming pauses or phrase endings, or to accelerate and decelerate in and out of contratiempo, Olga's violin and Natalia's piano were always there to offer a remixed tango with the right musical components. When we discussed the changes in music style over the tango eras and between the tango masters, the QTANGO musicians were always ready to conjure up the spirit and the sound of the Guardia Vieja or mature D'Arienzo, late-period Di Sarli or Pugliese. The secrets of the craft revealed, one after another, to enrich our appreciation of our tango musical heritage. It's just incredible... Hats off!
QTANGO trio at the North Church
 I DJ'd during QTANGO's final night in Salt Lake, on Xmas Eve in the old North Church. Just two small stretches of recorded music before and after live music, and greatly (and happily) overshadowed by QTANGO's play.
01. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida "Recuerdos De Paris" 1937 3:12
02. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida  "Nada mas" 1938 3:00
03. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida  "Invierno" 1937 3:26
04. Alexander Dolsky  "At last, rainy September! (cortina 1)" 1979 0:15
05. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "No te apures, Carablanca" 1942 3:29
06. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "Sorbos amargos" 1942 3:22
07. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Miranda  "Manana zarpa un barco" 1942 3:22
08. Eldar Ryazanov - Andrey Petrov "Nature doesn't have bad weather" (cortina) 0:24
09. Enrique Rodriguez - Armando Moreno  "En el volga yo te espero" 1943 2:40
10. Enrique Rodriguez - Instrumental  "Siempre fiel (vals)" 1938 3:38
11. Enrique Rodriguez - Armando Moreno  "Mariquita no mires al puerto (vals)" 1945 3:01
12. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
Erskine Maytorena is, of course, first and foremost a vocalist, an opera singer before he took up bandoneon and tango teaching and reverse-engineering the best tango danceable music in the nation. So you wouldn't be surprised that he repeatedly pointed my attention to the talented tango vocalists of the past, whom I hardly ever featured in my playlists before. Argentino Ledesma sang mostly for Varela's orchestra, but he also recorded very few songs with Di Sarli, including this totally breathtaking "Fumando espero", one of those virtually unmatcheable tracks. Here I combined it with two other Di Sarli singers, united by the period and by the mood, quite seamlessly for my humble taste ... yet I got an impression that for Erskine, my transitions from a singer to a singer sounded totally abrupt and jarring, that he perceived too great a difference in their voices, talents, and manners of singing! Life to learn...
"Verdemar" is of course hard to match both musically and I guess emotionally too, it's so overflowing with sadness ... I wrote about its mystery before on rio Wang's blog.
13. Carlos di Sarli - Argentino Ledesma  "Fumando espero" 1956 4:02
14. Carlos di Sarli - Jorge Durán  "No me pregunten por qué" 1956 3:29
15. Carlos di Sarli - Oscar Serpa  "Verdemar" 1955 3:01
Now it's time for live music! El gente is truly electrified. Familiar QTANGO hits such as Ultima copa de bebida, vocal Gran muneca, best-ever Milonga triste, and some new super-hits, the most memorable of which is probably wonderfully lyrical instrumental Chiquilín de Bachín, Astor Piazzolla's vals lento which has become so un-Piazzolla danceable in Q's arrangement :) Love!
16. Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray "Niebla del Riachuelo" 1937 2:25
17. Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray "Sollozos"  3:28
18. Osvaldo Fresedo - Roberto Ray "Recuerdo de bohemia" 1935 2:36
19. Sofia Rotaru  "Autumn Melody"  0:30
20. Donato Racciatti - Olga Delgrossi "Queriéndote" 1955 2:49
21. Donato Racciatti  "Tu corazón - Nina Miranda" 2:32
22. Donato Racciatti - Olga Delgrossi "Hasta siempre amor" 1958 2:57
23. Canaro - Hugo del Carril  "Marcha Peronista cortina"  0:16
people are palpably tired before the holidays and overflowing with live music's energy, and I find that a milonga tanda is simply a no go. Transitioning to a more dramatic tanda with Mario Pomar, another Di Sarli singer we discussed with Erskine the night before, and for a quicker-than-planned wrap up of the night.
24. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida "Milonga criolla" 1936 3:05
25. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
26. Carlos di Sarli - Mario Pomar  "Tormenta" 1954 3:38
27. Carlos di Sarli - Mario Pomar  "Patotero sentimental" 1953 3:02
28. Carlos di Sarli - Mario Pomar  "Duelo criollo" 1952 2:30
29. Lidiya Ruslanova  "Valenki 1 (cortina)"  0:24
30. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "La torcacita" 1971 2:31
31. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental  "Zorro gris" 1973 2:03
32. Juan D'Arienzo - Instrumental "Este Es El Rey" 1973 3:10
33.  "Lady Be Good - Sol Hoopii Trio"  0:23
34. Alfredo De Angelis  - Instrumental "Felicia" 1969 2:48
35. Alfredo de Angelis - Instrumental "Pavadita" 1958 2:55
36. Osvaldo Pugliese - Instrumental  "Recuerdo" 1944 2:54
37. Osvaldo Pugliese - Roberto Chanel "Corrientes Y Esmeralda" 1944 2:49
38. Osvaldo Pugliese - Roberto Chanel "Rondando Tu Esquina" 1945 2:49
39. Pedro Láurenz - Pedro Maffia - Instrumental  "La cumparsita" 1926 3:01
(39 total)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Dark Ages: from the days of the burned records to the Day of Tango

This is the story of tango's darkest days, of the deluge of the New Wave, and of a 99 years old tango patrician, Ben Molar.

The tale begins at the times of the fall of Perón's rule in 1955. The military juntas replacing him didn't yet set the goals of governing the country in perpetuity, but they made it painfully clear that not just Peron himself, but all populism and leftism was out, replaced by the rule of the money and the elite. The tango, alas, has been co-opted by the Argentine populism as the soul of its national culture; tango has been hoisted as the banner of Peronism, and the old personal relation between the families of Enrique Santos Discépolo and Juan Perón has already costed tango's leading poet and organizer his dignity and, in the end, his life (Discépolo actively promoted Perón's 1951 reelection campaign in his radio program, and brought in other tango celebrities to root for Perón, which caused for Discépolo so much vitriol, hate mail and threats, spitting and heckling, empty theaters and denied handshakes, that the poet soon died at the age of 50 of what was essentially lack of will to live).

Listen to the video below. This is Francisco Canaro's orchestra, with Hugo del Carril singing the Peronist march ("Los muchachos Peronistas...").

Tango was falling out of favor with the ones in power, and with the media companies. It culminated in the loss of master copies of tango records. This is the main reason why so many tangos we aspire to dance to are of so-so record quality, digitized from used vinyl disks. It didn't affect all Golden Age records in the same way; in fact backup tapes of Troilo and D'Arienzo have been largely preserved, hence a better quality of recordings of their orchestras. The lore of the tango DJs says that one person, an Ecuadorean or perhaps a Colombian, ordered the master copies of tango records burned, maybe out of sheer ignorance or out of spite. Can we reconstruct what exactly happened?

"Frutillas", Ben Molar's
Castellano translation of
"Strawberry Fields Forever"
In 1959, RCA Victor Argentina, under its Ecuadorean General Manager Ricardo Mejia, a "sales expert", started La Nueva Ola, "The New Wave", billed as "movimiento musical" but essentially a commercial enterprise hiring younger musicians and vocalists to produce a domestic version of rock-n-roll (and to beat rival Odeón with its immensely popular Luis Aguilé). (It is the same year which planted the first seeds of the future tango rebirths when in October, Piazzolla, on  a Copes tour to Puerto Rico and New York, wrote "Adios Nonio") (Of all "daughter companies" of old grand Victor, today we probably remember the best its Japanese arm, JVC or Japan Victor Company ... and if Ricardo Mejia is ever remembered, it is as the barbaric RCA Victor manager who infamously burned the archived master records of tango)

English songs were kept away from the Argentine airways, so La Nueva Ola often used gringo themes translated into Castellano by Moses Smolarchik Brenner a.k.a. Ben Molar, ironically a lifelong tango aficionado, author, and organizer who at the time helped hasten the end of tango's greatest years, replacing tango with the transplanted foreign pop. 

The following year, in November 1960, Mejia hired his fiancee Jolly Land  ( Yolanda Juana Magdalena Delisio Puccio), a 27 year old jazz singer and TV star, to join RCA's nascent La Nueva Ola ensemble, Club de Clan. Blond and silly, Jolly Land has become famous as "The Clan Coquette" and "Argentine Brigitte Bardotte".  And, despite the movement's official goal of "cleansing pop music from the US influence", she soon won a permission to sing - occasionally - in English. All of it cemented the Clan's popularity. As reported in Billboard on Feb. 2nd, 1963, Mejia's commercial success was exemplary because the local talent in economically depressed Argentina has been so cheap, and because the record shops were forced to accept a reduced 20% profit margin - so Clan's LPs retailed for $1.99 apiece. Buoyed by these successes, Mejia broke with RCA to establish a rival, even cheaper brand - and then vanished from the industry altogether.

The magnetic tape technology has been introduced to broadcasting barely a decade earlier, by Bing Crosby who gave Ampex a $50000 grant, in 1947, to reverse-engineer a Nazi tape recording machine, the Magnetophon. Although prototype tape recorders were demoed by the Germans as early as 1931, the German engineers achieved massive improvements in the 1940s, and surpassed the quality of 78 rpm records. Late in the war, the Magnetophone was widely - and secretively - used to enhance the quality of the German broadcasts. It's not like the existence of some breakthrough sound recording technique wasn't known to the Allies ... of course they knew that even after all the studios and archives of Berlin broadcasters were destroyed in air raids, the quality of the broadcast remained stellar ... they just had no idea what technical means made it possible. After the Nazi capitulation, U.S. Army Signal Corps Major Jack Mullin brought a couple Magnetophons and some tape reels to the US in 1946, demoed it around Hollywood entretainers, and got Crosby hooked. Ampex (named after the initials of its Russian founder, A.M. Poniatoff, an engineering and aviation prodigy from a small, and now by abandoned, Russian village in Tatarstan) was up to the challenge, and the rest is history
A.M. Poniatoff with his prototype in 1948
But before the Club de Clan project brought RCA its first mega-profits, Mejia needed rehearsal and recording spaces for his young talents - and his sights turned to the rooms occupied by the RCA audio archive. Far from being a culture-hating Herostratus, Mejia was a pragmatic manager who wouldn't just throw away valuable property. He arranged for a transfer of the records to then-cutting technology of magnetic tapes, to free up the space. But the tape recording turned out to be haphazard and uncontrolled, and only a fraction of the master records (including, peculiarly, Troilo's) ended up transferred to tapes with an appropriate quality before the original master copies were destroyed!

In fact, Ricardo Mejia was the first media manager to put live tango orchestras on TV, starting in 1962 with "Yo te canto Buenos Aires" on Channel 11 (featuring "El Polaco" Roberto Goyeneche singing "Garúa" with the Aníbal Troilo's orchestra!). And in 1963, he commissioned "Tango de Exportacion", a Troilo LP for the foreign markets. So he must have had some faith in tango - the old tango perhaps only good to please the older audiences or the foreigners, but the new youthful tango of El Club de Clan possibly bridging the generation gap in a way which appealed both to Clan's youngest fans and to their parents (yes, in addition to pop and "localized" rock, the Clan talents also starred in the classic genres of tropical (Chico Navarro), tango (Raúl "Tanguito" Cobián), and especially the hinterland folk music  ("Palito" Ortega), the latter symbolizing the defeat of Porteno culture with its music of sadness and resignation in the post-Peronist Argentina). Clan's dancing on stage was orderly, the lyrics extolled youthfulness, contented happiness, and the status quo - the joyous youthful music quite fit for a paternalistic, conservative political regime. 
El Pichuco for export!
Ricardo Mejia and Anibal Troilo signing the deal. "Billboard", Aug 24, 1963
Mejia is said to have lead a personal vendetta against Osvaldo Pugliese, who enjoyed particularly strong cross-generational appeal and who eagerly drew young talents into his egalitarian music-coop team, too. Abel Cordoba recalls how the "Club de Clan people" pushed Club Estudiantes de la Plata to stop Pugliese's concerts, and how they heckled Pugliese at Club Provincial of Rosario.

The clip below shows tango "El Club de Clan way". Young Raúl "Tanguito" Cobián sings "Picaflor", "The womanizer", for TV:
The painting for Troilo
Ben Molar, as we said, did much more than to publish translations of foreign hits through Ediciones Internacionales Fermata, a musical score-publishing label he owned. Ben Molar loved tango music and poetry and he especially loved Julio De Caro, for who he wrote lyrics of Calla corazón calla, and he watched the deterioration of tango culture in the 1960s with dismay. Ben Molar's solution to this problem was to cleanse tango if its mass-culture, dance-hall past, and to develop new tango as a refined art form, a synthesis of painting, music, and poetry, directed at high-culture audiences both at home and abroad. That's how, in 1966, Ben Molar's ambitious tango project, "14 con el tango", came to life. Fourteen orchestras and fourteen singers, fourteen composers and fourteen poets created 14 very non-danceable tangos - paired, indeed, with 14 paintings, and featured around the world on an embassy tour. 

The painting for D'Arienzo
In the same 1966, at Julio De Caro's birthday celebration, Ben Molar came up with an even more ambitious idea of the National Day of Tango. It will take Ben Molar over a decade (which included several years of Peronist rule, even more violently terminated by the military this time around) to turn De Caro's birthday, December 11th, into a natonal celebration. And against all odds, the first ever Day of Tango, on December 11 1977, filled Luna Park with 14,500 spectators!

And so we celebrate it, for nearly 4 decades now, in Argentina and around the world - a day timed to the shared birth date of Julio de Caro and Carlos Gardel, exactly the two tango music great's to whose records we wouldn't dance, as a life's legacy of a poet and a translator who would have loved to banish dance from the world of tango, and who personally lent a helping hand to the profiteers eager to replace tango with rock and with the Anglo pop hits. But come to think of it, isn't it one of those logical incompatibilities tango is all about? Freedom and control, flight and grounding, rhythm and melody, love and mean-spiritedness, fire and ice - that's what makes tango a tango.

Dia del Tango milonga playlist

Rodolfo & Florencia's chacarera!
(David Herrera's image)
The Argentine National Day of Tango, December 11th, never ceases to be a cause of celebrations around the globe - and never ceases to impress on me the humbling point, how minor is the role of our beloved social tango dancing in the cultural phenomenon called Argentine Tango. A typical celebratory milonga is full of skits and lessons, lectures and awards, movies and recitations ... but it still rolls around the dance floor in between the chaotic interruptions, and still culminates in the sounds of the Cumparsita.
More on the grand story of the Day of Tango later. For this post, I'll focus on just a little story of my DJing stint in the tail end of Salt Lake's grand celebration milonga on Dec. 12th.
Guadalupe was spinning the tandas for most of the milonga's dancing time. The organizers suggested that the local tango DJs should take turns during the celebration, however chaotically it may work in practice. My turn has been hastened by Guadalupe's laptop malfunction, and I had to start from playing Rodolfo's chacarera's for the richly costumed demo & for Florencia's short but spirited chacarera lesson. Then it was time for tango, with many interruptions, additions, and special requests. 
01. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida  "Nada mas" 1938 3:00
02. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida  "Madreselva" 1938 2:49
03. Francisco Canaro - Roberto Maida  "Invierno" 1937 3:26
04. The Blues Brothers  "Theme From Rawhide 3" 1980 0:20
05. Rodolfo Biagi - Andrés Falgás "La Chacarera " 1940 2:24
06. Rodolfo Biagi - Andrés Falgás "Cielo!" 19392:31
07. Rodolfo Biagi - Jorge Ortiz "Humiliacion" 1941 2:42
08. The Blues Brothers  "Theme From Rawhide 3" 1980 0:20
the best of XXI c. milongas
09. Otros Aires II "Los Vino"  2:41
10. Otros Aires  "Rotos en el Raval" 2005 3:53
11. Otros Aires  "Un Baile De Beneficio" 2010 3:42
12. The Blues Brothers  "Theme From Rawhide 3" 1980 0:20
13. Edgardo Donato - Lita Morales - Romeo Gavio  "Mi Serenata" 1940 3:02
14. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos  "El adios" 1938 3:19
Cuarteto Tipico Los Aces
the only bold experiment in the music selection ... Fast and sparkling with energy, these valses have been recorded by a very short-lived quartet of piano, bando, and two violins, who boldly called themselves "The Aces". I really liked 2nd and 3rd valses here, but the first one wasn't as driving IMHO.
15. Cuarteto Tipico Los Ases (Director Juan Carlos Cambón )  "Noches de serenata (vals)" 1940 2:32
16. Cuarteto Tipico Los Ases (Director Juan Carlos Cambón )  "Tus ojos me embelesan (vals)" 1940 2:45
17. Cuarteto Tipico Los Ases (Director Juan Carlos Cambón )  "Invernal (vals)" 1941 2:42
18. The Blues Brothers  "Theme From Rawhide 3" 1980 0:20
19. Carlos di Sarli - Alberto Podestá  "Junto a tu corazon" 1942 3:00
20. Carlos di Sarli - Alberto Podestá  "Tu el cielo y tu" 1944 2:59
( break for speeches; milongas needed for Jose Luis... )
22. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Fam  "Milonga del 900" 1933 2:55
23. Francisco Canaro Ernesto Fama y Angel Ramos "Milonga sentimental" 1933 3:12
24. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Mir  "Malena" 1942 2:57
25. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Mir  "Manana zarpa un barco" 1942 3:22
26. Lucio Demare - Juan Carlos Mir  "No te apures, Carablanca" 1942 3:29
27. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
28. Alfredo de Angelis - Instrumental "Felicia" 1969 2:48
29. Alfredo de Angelis - Instrumental "Mi dolor" 1957 2:51
30. Alfredo de Angelis - Instrumental  "Pavadita" 1958 2:55
31. Goran Bregovic  "Old Home Movie" 1993 0:25
32. Osvaldo Pugliese - Instrumental  "Recuerdo" 2:54
33. Osvaldo Pugliese - Roberto Chanel "Corrientes Y Esmeralda" 1944 2:49
34. Osvaldo Pugliese - Roberto Chanel "Rondando Tu Esquina" 1945 2:49
35. Alfredo de Angelis - Instrumental "La cumparsita (Matos Rodriguez)" 1961 3:33
(35 total)