Tango in 1944 was in good shape, with the established orchestras consolidating their popularity and attracting huge audiences whether performing live, on radio or on record.
Caló (Iriarte) 1944
Raul Iriarte joined Caló’s orchestra in 1943 and apart from one short break, stayed until 1947. He never, quite, achieved the status of star singer; but for me, his is the emblematic voice of Caló’s orchestra.
- De seis a siete (24-Oct-1944)
- Bohardilla (19-Apr-1944)
- Si yo pudiera comprender (28-Jan-1944)
- Mi tango es triste (28-Aug-1944)
D’Agostino (Vargas) 1944
D’Agostino’s orchestra produced a steady stream of recordings with Vargas. The partnership lasted until 1946, producing 94 sides. Stylistically, the orchestra hardly changed, at all: a bastion of stability and refinement in a period when most other orchestras reinvented themselves at least once. D’Agostino was said to be a good dancer, himself, and I think it shows in the music.
- Quién tuviera dieciocho años (31-Jan-1944)
- Más solo que nunca (5-Apr-1944)
- La última cita (8-Aug-1944)
- Madreselva (5-Dec-1944)
Di Sarli (Podestá) 1944
These recordings belong to Podestá’s second period with Di Sarli. Now a little older, his voice has matured, and while he had a very long singing career, he was never better than this. The opening song was also the last of his recordings with Di Sarli until 1947. The style of the early years, with its faster pace and more insistent rhythms, now lies firmly in the past, even though Cero al as has something of its feel. It’s worth listening to the song while concentrating, exclusively, on Di Sarli’s brilliant piano playing. Listen again for the overall effect it has on shaping the musical phrasing and as a foil to Podestá’s vocal delivery.
- Tú el cielo y tú (8-Nov-1944)
- Vamos (24-May-1944)
- Cero al as (13-Apr-1944)
- Nada (13-Apr-1944)
Laurenz (Vocal) 1943-44 (Vals)
Alberto Podestá sang with the Laurenz orchestra for 12 months from April 1943, giving the orchestra a real lift in quality and reputation. He sings Paisaje. Following him, were the much less well-known Carlos Bermúdez (who sings Temblando) and Jorges Linares, who joins Bermúdez in a duet for Mendocina. Sadly, that was one of the orchestra’s last recordings in the 40s; there would be just two more sides in 1946 and another two in 1947.
- Temblando (26-Apr-1944)
- Paisaje (6-Aug-1943)
- Mendocina (19-Dec-1944)
Pugliese (Chanel) 1944
The orchestra of Osvaldo Pugliese was formed in 1939, but like several others, it didn’t secure a recording contract for several years. The first recordings were in July 1943, but the orchestra’s output was modest. In the first year there were just five sessions, producing ten sides. The years 1944-47 were busier, but the orchestra was never prolific. However what we have is marvellous. Roberto Chanel sings with a quiet intensity, and the music is powerful and passionate.
Pugliese’s music is challenging for dancers – many steer clear of it altogether – and DJs programme it with care. Pugliese had a long recording career, extending from 1943 to 1986. His was the only leading orchestra with a discography extending from the peak of the Golden Age, through the dry and largely barren years after 1955, and into the tango revival from c1983 – an astonishing legacy.
- Corrientes y Esmeralda (17-Oct-1944)
- La abandoné y no sabía (20-Jul-1944)
- El tango es una historia (22-Aug-1944)
- El día de tu ausencia (6-Jul-1944)
Pugliese (Instrumental) 1944
The 1926 recording of Recuerdo by Julio De Caro was the very first to feature in this series of articles. Written by Pugliese (then a very young man), his own first recording of it sounds very like a homage to De Caro. Pugliese, Laurenz and Troilo were the leading proponents of the Decarean school of tango development. El arranque and Mala pinta were De Caro compositions, and Amurado was co-written by Laurenz and Pedro Maffia.
- Recuerdo (31-Mar-1944)
- El arranque (22-Aug-1944)
- Mala estampa (Mala pinta) (21-Dec-1944)
- Amurado (24-Nov-1944)
Tanturi (Campos) 1944
The slower pace of the mid-40s really suits the orchestra of Tanturi. Opinions are usually sharply divided over whether Castillo or Campos was Tanturi’s best singer. Campos has the better voice and arguably, better repertoire – but Castillo was a great showman (and was probably better ‘live’ than on record). Of course, both of them were very good, and when Campos left the orchestra in 1946, things were never the same.
- Calla bandoneón (18-May-1944)
- El corazón me decía (29-Sep-1944)
- En el salón (14-Nov-1944)
- Recién (24-Mar-1944)
Troilo (Marino) 1944
Alberto Marino joined Troilo’s orchestra in early 1943, singing alongside Francisco Fiorentino, and making his first recording, Tango y copas, in April 1943. A very fine singer, Marino is relatively little heard by dancers today. The style of the music is challenging for dancers: powerful, dramatic and rhythmically subtle and fluid. DJs usually make a safe choice, and play the up-beat 1941 hits with Fiorentino. The repertoire of the later 40s is much less well-known but is great dance music. Only after the early 50s did Troilo’s focus move away from the musical needs of dancers – but that is equally true of many other orchestras at that time.
One possible explanation for the music being too often passed over is that the sound quality of the transfers that we have is frequently poor. Troilo managed to produce a huge, complex sound (but only with much the same resources as other orchestras). It stretched the recording technology of the time to the limit, but this repertoire has yet to benefit from the careful restoration that has already been undertaken for other orchestras’ work.
- Nada más que un corazón (31-Aug-1944)
- Torrente (6-Oct-1944)
- Me están sobrando las penas (1-Aug-1944)
- Rosa de tango (1-Aug-1944)
If you’re looking for comparisons, both Laurenz and Pugliese also recorded very fine versions of Nada más que un corazón; you can find them readily on Spotify. Troilo’s version sounds as though the orchestra was several times the size of either of the others – and it was bigger – but the difference in scale is huge, and entirely typical of the Troilo sound. Here’s a short excerpt of the Pugliese recording:
Click here for ‘Tango in 1943’.
Click here for ‘Tango in 1945’.
Barrio de tango is the tango blog and online home of tango DJ, Clive Harrison, based in the English Midlands. Now retired from teaching and hosting dance events, Clive remains available to DJ, playing exclusively traditional tango music from the great tango orchestras.