A casual reader might have missed that I actually like and play traditional tango, too. It's not the focus of this blog and I will keep using the old master mostly as a backdrop to my reviews and commentary of tango made today. When the 'ro is over and we get back to dancing, though, I look forward to dancing to the scratchy & squeaky 1940s - just not the whole night 😉. I'll keep my playlists wide open.
José García is an old flame of mine. His orchestra didn't make much dent in his time, and perhaps he didn't even intend to make one. He was a professional violinist, and must have been very demanding of his students, with who he formed his orchestra, because unlike other bands of his time (and today!), his violins play remarkably in tune. This is one of the reasons I love his orchestra so much.
I'd mark his style as "Di Sarli lite", very calm, even, measured, without Di Sarli's nervousness but with a similar flair. His lyricism is genuine yet restrained. It's not often that I hear a tanda of his works at a marathon and when I do, it puts a smile on my face and I've got to dance.
1) Junto a tu corazón (1942, B-minor, 61 BPM)
2) Zorro plateado (1943, C major/minor, 61 BPM)
3) Quién no tuvo un amor (1944, E minor / A major, 62 BPM)
4) Adiós, adiós, corazón (1942, F minor/major, 60 BPM)
I start with a celebratory Junto a tu corazón to spread good mood. Zorro plateado follows up with playfulness, then switches to a minor key and goes with a more lyrical narrative, which culminates in Quién no tuvo un amor. That is resolved by the fabulous Adiós, adiós, corazón, a song so wonderful I shake my head in disbelief when I find out it wasn't recorded way more often (according to Tango-DJ.at, only García and Fresedo recorded it).
This is one of the common patterns I use in my tandas: start upbeat, develop some drama, resolve it, and finish on a high note again. Nothing particularly original, I'm sure.
I found this tanda in my set from February 2020, sandwiched between Tanturi valses with Castillo and Biagi instrumentals. I think it'll do great after something lively when you need to turn down the drama and let things flow for a while. If you need a a more lyrically exposed tanda, you'll need to look elsewhere, perhaps for Di Sarli or Caló. This one is moderate, and would also work well in the opening hour of a weekly milonga to give everyone a chance to find their rhythm.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!
Thanks Tomáš, well writen. I agree with you positive approach to Jose Garcia!