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 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.
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).
I have created a Spotify playlist of all my favorite tandas published so far (with the exception of two tandas which included some songs not available on that music streaming service). The playlist will be updated as new tandas are added. To subscribe, click on the link below:
I have also added a link to my Spotify profile on the right sidebar, in case you want to “follow” me.
Almost every dancer is familiar with Alfredo De Angelis’ version of ‘Pobre flor’, but few know that the vals was also recorded by Juan Maglio in 1932. A year before, Pacho recorded another vals, sung by Carlos Viván, the lyrics of which include the line “Pobre flor que ayer lucía…” The two valses thus seem to be made for each other, and may be combined with the instrumental ‘Princesa’, also from 1931, as I do in this tanda.
With thanks to Ton and those who commented on his post at the Facebook group ‘Today’s tango’, for inspiration.
Ever wondered how some of today’s top performers danced before they became so famous? What follows is a selection of clips I was able to dig up after doing some detective work on YouTube. Feel free to send further suggestions by email or as comments to this post. Enjoy!
María Inés Bogado & Sebastián Jiménez (ca. 2008)
Nayla Vacca & Fernando Sánchez (2007)
María Ximena Gallichio & Sebastián Achával (2006)
Ariadna Naveira & Federico Naveira (2006)
Noelia Hurtado & Pablo Rodríguez (2006)
Valeria Solomonoff & Murat Erdemsel (2003)
Claudia Jakobsen & Mariano Frumboli (1997)
Giselle Anne & Pablo Verón (ca. 1995)
Geraldine Rojas & Sebastián Arce (1994)
Geraldine Rojas, Andrea Missé, Sebastián Arce, Sebastián Missé, Gabriel Missé, and others (1993)
Another moving Di Sarli tanda from the 1940s, although in a more subtle, intimate way than the one previously featured on this blog. ‘Cuando el amor muere’ is the only recording that Carlos Acuña made with Di Sarli’s orchestra, and is as such rarely played at milongas by DJs who adhere strictly–and, one may say, blindly–to traditional rules of tanda composition. I find this unfortunate and unwarranted, especially in a tango of such haunting beauty, given the similarities in both mood and sound to other Di Sarli/Rufino recordings with which it can be combined, as I do in this tanda.
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.