Pedro Maffia (1899-1967) played in the orchestras of Roberto Firpo, Francisco Lomuto, Juan Carlos Cobián and Julio De Caro. Perhaps his most important legacy, however, was as a composer of some of the greatest tangos of all time. This tanda features four of those masterpieces (‘Amurado’ was co-written by Maffia and Laurenz).
This is a mixed vals tanda built around Osmar Maderna’s exquisite “Pequeña”. I picked Calo’s version of “Jugando, jugando” because it features Maderna as pianist and the sound of the orchestra is similar to Maderna’s. However, as DJ Mary Wu pointed out to me, Lomuto’s version of that tango (with Carlos Galarce, 1944) has a kind of bittersweet quality that is present in “Pequeña”, but absent in Calo’s version. So I suggest experimenting with both versions, as I have myself done over the past few weeks at various milongas. You may also want to try substituting ‘Una vez en la vida’ (Osvaldo Fresedo with Ricardo Ruiz, 1941) for ‘Motivo de vals’ if you find the tempo of the latter unacceptably slow (personally I find that it works at some milongas but not others, depending on the energy levels).
The discographies of the tango orchestras are scattered all around the web. Below is my best attempt to make the relevant links all available in one place. When I found more than one discography for a given orchestra, I chose the one which seemed most complete and reliable. I plan to keep this post updated, so if you think I’m missing something, please let me know.
Update: See here for my current attempt to improve on these discographies. The links below will gradually link to my own discographies, as they become available.
When I started dancing and listening to tango music two years ago, I quickly discovered that one of the easiest ways to identify an orchestra was to pay attention to the final two chords of the song (the dominanc-tonic, characteristic “chan-chan” ending ). Each orchestra plays those chords in its own, distinctive way, so by learning how the chords sound like, one can infer the orchestra even of songs one is unfamiliar with. The video below, which I created a while ago for my own amusement, provides a sample of the tango endings of 20 of the most popular tango orchestras. I am now posting it here in case it is of interest to readers of this blog.