Pedro Laurenz’s bandoneón variations

Pedro Laurenz was not only a first-class composer and conductor, but an extraordinary bandoneón player who influenced an entire generation of musicians.  His impressive technical skills are, I believe, best displayed when he executes his own brilliantly crafted variaciones for that instrument. For this post I have excerpted my favorite 10 variations from the original tangos in which they appear. Click on the individual titles below or, if you can withstand five minutes of breathtaking intensity, play the video to listen to them all in one go.

  1. Amurado (1940)
  2. Desconsuelo (1940)
  3. Abandono (1937)
  4. Al verla pasar (1942)
  5. No me extraña (1940)
  6. 24 de agosto (1943)
  7. Taconeando (1942)
  8. Quedate tranquilo (1941)
  9. Orgullo criollo (1941)
  10. Mala junta (1947)

Corrections to Gabriel Valiente’s Encyclopedia of Tango

Gabriel Valiente’s Encyclopedia of Tango, published in 2014, is an invaluable resource for tango DJs and collectors.  The book provides complete or near-complete discographies of about 150 of the most important tango orchestras, with information about vocalists, genres, labels and recording dates.  It also includes hard-to-find details about the musicians that played in many of these orchestras over time.  I encourage anyone who is serious about tango music to get a copy of this excellent book.

It is inevitable that a work of such scope and ambition will contain some errors and inaccuracies.  Even the most respected discographies of individual orchestras, such as Lefcovich’s, are known to contain mistakes.  So we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that a book that sets to comprehensively list the recordings of dozens of orchestras isn’t completely error-free.

In the hope that this initiative may be of value to other tango fans, or help Gabriel prepare future editions of his encyclopedia, I have decided to create a spreadsheet listing all errors and omissions I was able to find.  The document will be regularly updated, as I examine new sections more closely and compare the information found on its pages with that in my own discographies.  If you spot any mistakes not already listed, I would be grateful if you could notify me about it.

Information that I believe to be incorrect is listed in strikethrough. Information that I believe to be dubious is listed in italics. The corresponding comments provide the correct information or explain my reasons for doubt. In addition, omissions from the Encyclopedia are listed in boldface.

Orquesta Típica Victor discography

My discography of Orquesta Típica Victor is now finished.  (For context on this project, see here.)

In addition to the fields displayed below (title, genre, recording date, vocalist(s) and record number) you may find information about record labels, matrix numbers, orchestra conductors, and more, by scrolling to the right using the horizontal bar at the end of the table. Alternatively, you may access the entire spreadsheet on Google Drive here.

I have also created a spreadsheet with a list of tracks often incorrectly attributed to Orquesta Típica Victor, or attributed without sufficient evidence. You will find this spreadsheet here.

The main sources used to create this discography are listed at the end of this post.  I would like to thank Johan and Héctor Mario Lobato for valuable feedback.

If you spot any inaccuracies or discover missing information, please leave a comment or send me a message.

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My favorite performances: La mulateada (Di Sarli)

My choice for this week is ‘La mulateada’ (Carlos Di Sarli, 1941). I reviewed 15 performances. (I was disappointed to see so many couples dancing to the Sexteto Milonguero version, which is of incomparably lower artistic quality.)

My favorite: Veronica Toumanova & Fausto Carpino.

My favorite tandas: Laurenz/Gobbi – ‘Triste destino’

The star of this dramatic mixed tanda is vocalist Alfredo Del Río. As Abel Palermo notes in his biographical sketch, Del Río’s “great vocal facility, his special sense for interpretation, and his discipline and responsibility about taking care of his voice made him become a great professional.” The quality of the two Laurenz numbers–rarely heard at milongas–is not very good, but I’m not aware of any better transfers.

Update: I had assumed that combining Gobbi and Laurenz in the same tanda was uncommon, but in this recent interview renowned DJ Félix Picherna notes that he used to mix these two orchestras when DJing in Europe.

Tango in London

Every once in a while, a friend who is visiting London, or who has just moved to the city, writes me with questions about the local tango scene. As I was composing my reply to the most recent of these inquiries, I thought it would be a good idea to write a brief post reproducing what I usually say in correspondence. A post of this sort would not only relieve me from the need to write the same messages over and over again, but more importantly, it may prove to be of use to other dancers who do not know me personally. So, here we go.

First of all, to know what milongas or practicas are taking place on a given day, check the London tango calendar. Alternatively, you may consult the Facebook page tomorrow’s milongas.

I don’t usually go dancing on Mondays or Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, try Tango Light. The average age at this milonga seems lower than at most others, though I’ve been here only a few times.

Some of my friends like to visit Tango Terra on Thursdays. I’m not very enthusiastic about milongas with live music, though, so I rarely go there.

On Fridays, I recommend Carablanca, perhaps my favorite London milonga. If you want to keep dancing after midnight, you can head over to Negracha, which lasts until 3am and is within walking distance. Discount tickets for Negracha are available at the Carablanca counter.

On Saturdays there is Tango Garden in the afternoon, and on alternate weeks, either The Light or Corrientes in the evening. Please note that The Light is held on different venues on different days.

Finally, on Sundays I generally go to Etnia. From June to September, there is also Tango Fever, a nice open air milonga in Spitafields.

These are just my recommendations, which reflect my own tastes and idiosyncrasies.  Furthermore, as I have been dancing in London for only a few months, my knowledge of the tango scene is not that great, and as a result I may be omitting some milongas or practicas out of sheer ignorance.  So please don’t rely on this mini-guide as your sole source of information.

My favorite performances: El puntazo (D’Arienzo)

My choice for this week is ‘El puntazo’ (Juan D’Arienzo, 1952). I reviewed 54 performances.

My favorite: Vanessa Gauch Arabacıoğlu & Eşref Tekinalp.

I also liked the performances by Virginia Pandolfi & Edwin Espinosa and Roxana Suárez & Sebastián Achával.

Tango documentaries, part 2: Los capos del tango

These documentaries, directed by Gabriel Soria, were produced for the Sólo Tango TV station (now TangoCity) and released between 2000 and 2005. Approximately 55 episodes were made. The list below is very incomplete; I welcome any comments and corrections. I provide links to the episodes available online.

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Tango documentaries, part 1: Volver Tango

Between 1995 and 1998, the Argentine TV channel Volver screened a series of tango documentaries. The series was directed by Eduardo Berti, and includes valuable testimonies from many great musicians and vocalists, as well as commentary from journalists and collectors. As is often the case with things tango-related, there is very little information available about them. The list that follows was reconstructed from references found in magazines, newspapers, and other reliable sources. I managed to obtain copies of most episodes, which I have since uploaded to my YouTube channel and which you can watch by clicking on the corresponding links below.

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