I was going to write a review of an album I was expecting to be great and that ended up being very different than what I expected... and I still might write it. And because the album clearly alluded to the great lyrical masterpieces of the 1950s and because I have neglected that repertoire for so long, and mostly I am not yet able to organize my thoughts around that album, I am going to go back in time instead, and do this tanda for you.
What were the 1950s and 1960s in Argentina like? I would very much like to know. The music reached phenomenal levels of expression but like everything else, it came with trade-offs: gone was the uncomplicated appeal to the casual dancing audience. If there was a dancing audience to speak of at all.
A prime example of what I'm talking about is late Troilo, whose discovery I owe to DJ Warren Edwardes, who coined the term "Silken Age" of tango for the music of this period.
I can only imagine that what Aníbal Troilo recorded with Roberto Rufino in 1960s was either for export or for their domestic sitting audience. Whatever their intent was, however, does not limit our options. We can still dance.
- Frente al mar (1963, D major)
- Ninguna (1963, B major / B minor)
- Siga el corso (1965, G major)
- Qué falta que me hacés! (1964, D minor)
Before listening to this, you might be tempted to think it will be a heavy if not depressing experience. Far from it. The opener, Frente al mar, is celebratory and uplifting. Ninguna switches between major and minor of B, Siga el corso comes in G major, and only the closer, Qué falta que me hacés!, drops decidedly into the minor key of D. Overall, I like the harmonic progression a lot.
What makes this a thick and nutricious beef broth is the orchestral instrumentation, the singer, who towers above it, and the overall phrasing, which departs from the Golden Age predictability and favors change. That's the tax the leader will have to pay on the dance floor. There's no way around it: one must pay attention constantly.
I played several variations of this tanda towards the end of the milonga.
Like any other music of this type and much of the music from this period, it's best consumed by the practiced dancer who has accrued and then spent a lot of energy during the evening, has come to an increased sense of intimacy with one or more partners, and will thus be ready to take the deep dive here.
It might even work great as the last tanda but I love to end with the Cumparsita no matter what.
cover photo credit to Silas Baisch