Taking a chance on Gobbi

It happened on this year's Belgrade Tango Encuentro.

Dark-Oh played a version of Adiós corazón I have not heard before, with a very unusual pattern played by the piano and pizzicato violin at the beginning and repeating it throughout the song. So strong was my impression that I remembered to look it up at Bernhard's priceless database. Lo and behold, it was Alfredo Gobbi's.

It turns out Gobbi has recorded it twice, and on the same day, with Tito Landó and Alfredo del Río each giving it a try.

My preference is for Landó; the latter vibrates his voice too much for my taste.

This has provided an opening for Gobbi to claim my attention after years of neglect and even - intentional - ignorance.

That's because whenever I try Gobbi before, years ago, it cleared the floor and I would, obviously, blame the orchestra rather than myself.

His is an intriguing story. Born in Paris, he grew up in BsAs and got started with tango early as a violinist. Appearing, among other bands, in the famed Sexteto Vardaro-Pugliese, he eventually formed his own orchestra and had a recording contract with RCA.

Today, he is mostly appreciated for his instrumentals. Rarely I hear his vocal repertoire being played for dancing.

One reason is that there's not that much choice available, only a few CDs being occasionally available on the second-hand market. Alfredo Gobbi y sus cantores 1951-1957 - Archivo RCA (EU-16012) has a few instrumentals and many vocals with Landó, del Río and others. José Sala (1953-54) - Alfredo Gobbi (1958) - Archivo Columbia (EU-18007) contains both versions of Adiós corazón, a few other pieces, and then a selection of José Sala, an even more forgotten orchestra.

The former CD includes many strong contenders for a lyrical 50s tanda. Let's try and let's see if we can finish with Adiós corazón.

I would open with Historia de un amor, a beautiful rendition that is better known with Varela / Lesica. Gobbi holds his own, in my view.

Cuatro novios is an intricate lyrical gem.

We'll have danced two super expressive songs. Can we lighten up the mood some?

Alas, there isn't any really upbeat song immediately available, not one that would fit. The duet Tuya, where Del Río joins, would not work if I intend to close with Adiós corazón.

Resigned to the fact that this would be a predominantly dark tanda, I select Tu angustia y mi dolor. It does have passages in a major key, and ends on it, and so the dancers will get a brief respite.

Then Adiós corazón and we are done.

In conclusion, I am going to give Gobbi a try and see if I fare better this time. He is supremely competitive musically; the arrangements are rich and intricate but with a clear drive. The tempos are slower as is customary with many other 1950's bands. His music provides a space for intense encounters of the lyrical kind.

-- PS --

It's worth noting that the CD includes two songs with Jorge Maciel, on whom I have had a huge man-crush as of late, Canzoneta and Un regalo de reyes. He recorded the former with Pugliese and concludes both renditions with a hysterical shriek / weep. That aside, he's in a class of his own.

-- PS2 --

Theresa Faust has pointed out to me that there's a compilation of Gobbi's work available on TangoTunes. Yes, indeed, I forgot, because I have not paid any attention to Gobbi before!

Not being all that much interested in all of it, I just purchased the Maciel compilation. Perhaps it will warrant of blog post of its own, will see!