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.
I am admittedly not a big fan of Pugliese. There is an exception to my reservations about his orchestra, however: his collaboration with Jorge Vidal. Unfortunately, Pugliese and Vidal recorded only seven tangos together (plus one milonga), so the options for a DJ are very limited. To spice things up and challenge seasoned dancers, I sometimes substitute ‘Testamento de arrabal’ with Argentino Galván’s ‘Pa’ mí es igual‘ (1951), which also features Vidal on vocals. (Galván arranged some songs for Pugliese in the mid-40’s, and his orchestra, while clearly distinct in style, shares some similarities with that of the celebrated pianist from Villa Crespo.) Another possible substitution is Galvan’s ‘Cuando yo me vaya’ for ‘La cieguita’: while musically the song doesn’t fit as nicely, the lyrics are evocative of both ‘Testamento de arrabal’ (“Tan sólo una cosa pido, que me llore un bandoneón”) and ‘Puente Alsina’ (“A la barra de Boedo, Caballito y Puente Alsina”).