Tanda of the week: José Basso instrumentals

Tanda of the week: José Basso instrumentals

This is one of those orquestas olvidadas, this band of José Basso.

His career spans some of the Golden age and all of the Forgotten age: he recorded in the 1960s and 1970s when few were dancing but consider that he also played the piano for Troilo in the 40s, and so his footing in the dancing tradition is solid.

Nowadays you won't hear his stuff much at milongas and marathons: I think he started his band too late and fell out of favor with the resurrectionists later as a result.

To be sure, I haven't played his music much either. This tanda is based on one of very few I ever did with Basso, in 2014.

Well okay, Tom, why should we listen to this then, you might ask?

I don't know if he recorded these for dancing or not but they move me. There's a lot of elaborate phrasing, modulations and whatnot but also an ever-present beat and drive. You probably know at least three of the songs from other orchestras, and I encourage you to listen to these versions with an open mind. You can find a lot you'll like there, too.


1) El amanecer (C minor, 63 BPM)
2) Sentimiento gaucho (A minor/C major, 63 BPM)
3) Una lágrima tuya (D major, 65 BPM)
4) Mala junta (G major/minor, 64 BPM)

All recordings are from 1961.

These are fun, playful walkers with a spark. The tempos are mostly regular with only a few sticks thrown under your feet here and there.

There's no particular narrative - I chose the Amanecer to start the tanda as it's immediately recognizable (how many times did I hear it in classes? Countless, although usually the Di Sarli version).

Sentimiento gaucho ups the intensity, suggesting the tanda could go haywire but it's just a misdirection. Una lágrima tuya corrects the course: it's very steady, its leitmotif balancing out the occasional rubato and assuring the dancers they are safe.

Mala junta by Basso is just lovely, its violin solo towards the end will break your heart (in a good way).


Frankly, I don't have a lot of experience playing Basso for dancers, so take this with a grain of salt.

Assuming a mostly traditional milonga, I would put these up later in the evening after I've plowed through the mandatory Canaros, D'Arienzos, and Di Sarlis. It might work fine after a lyrical tanda, e.g. 1940s Caló, and heading toward the modern era. I would play contemporary vocal valses after this. For example.

The issue is that the rhythmical structure is not uniform, there is some horseplay going on here and there. You'll want your dancers to be warmed up (I use this phrase a lot - have I ever featured a tanda that would be good for starting out?)

Anyway, I am not too sure yet. I might do more of 1960s and 1970s music going forward and learn it better than I do now to fix that.

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