Category Archives: Charlo

My favorite tandas: Mixed tanda – ‘El viejo vals’

This is an experimental tanda, which I included in my recent DJ set for Twilight Milonga @ Studio 1924 (an excellent milonga in Oakland, CA). I absolutely love Charlo’s version of ‘El viejo vals’, and thought I might be able to play it if I managed to build a tanda around it. The goal was to find two other valses from the 1950s with a lead singer accompanied by guitars only. After a long search, I settled on Jorge Vidal’s ‘La vieja serenata’ and Alberto Marino’s ‘Un cielo para los dos’. Neither recording is quite up to the level of Charlo’s, but they are, I think, strong enough to be played together in the same tanda. I was somewhat nervous during the milonga because I didn’t know how the crowd would react to it. The dancers did seem a bit surprised at first, but after a few minutes they eased off, and when the final track was played, everyone liked it. Afterwards, a few people came over and told me that they had really enjoyed the tanda. So overall I think it was a success, and will probably play it again at some point in the future.

My favorite tandas: Di Sarli – ‘Los muñequitos’

A while ago, my friend Alia—a superb dancer and DJ—left me the following message on Facebook: “Have you already composed a tanda with this beautiful tango?” The message included a link to Francisco Pracánico’s “Los muñequitos”, as recorded by Di Sarli’s orchestra. I found her question intriguing, since no less than two other friends of mine had recently written me about that same tango. Given the apparent interest in this overlooked gem, I thought I should take Alia’s implicit suggestion and build a tanda around it. But to have fun, I invited her to create a tanda as well, so that we could afterwards compare what each of us had come up with. She agreed, and a few hours later, we were ready to disclose our respective creations. What a surprise awaited us! Upon sharing the list of tangos with each other, we found out that we had chosen exactly the same songs! (The probability that something like this would happen by chance is extremely small. Even restricting the options to Di Sarli/Rufino recordings, the odds are in the order of 1 in 5,000!)

What follows is the list of songs arranged in the order that I believe suits them best (the original exercise involved listing the tangos in no particular order).

My favorite tandas: De Caro – ‘Saca chispas’

This is another rare tanda, comprising three great milongas by Julio de Caro (the first two composed by De Caro himself). My original plan was to play this set at El Metejón, a local BA milonga where I’ll be DJing tonight. However, a few days ago I announced on my Facebook wall that I’d play “Milonga de los fortines”, by Orquesta Típica Victor, and then realized I couldn’t really fit two milonga tandas from similar periods and orchestras on the same night. So I’ve decided to play a mixed tanda combining “Milonga de los fortines” with Lomuto’s “Qué tiempo aquel” and De Caro’s “No hay tierra como la mía”. I look forward to seeing how dancers react when I play the full De Caro tanda next time I’m DJing.

(With thanks to Alia, the multi-talented Syrian DJ.)

My favorite tandas: Canaro – ‘Tormento’

In this tanda, Canaro’s orchestra recedes into the background as Charlo takes center stage. His unfailing intonation, polished technique and superlative musicianship put him in a special place in the history of tango vocalists. It is a shame that his voice is less often heard at the milongas than that of many lesser talents. The last two numbers also display his remarkable skills as a composer.