artistas_adriana_nanoBy Luis Borda *
Argentine guitarist and composer established in Munich.

Here milongas are held almost every day and there are also a few festivals. Marta Giorgi, Mundo Burgos, Laura Cairo and Fabián Lugo, “Tango Maldito”: Jürgen & Johanna, “El Corazón”, “KHG”, among others, are some of the people behind the Tango action in Munich. Right now I am not going much to milongas since I am concentrated on writing and playing. Milongas gather around 80 people, except for the most important events, with live performers. That is where there are larger numbers of audiences because the tango music can also be enjoyed.
Something curious happens here, which surprised me when I first arrived 8 years ago, and it is still going on. During the summer, one can dance every Friday at “Diana Tempel”, a square located where the former king Bayern’s gardens once were. About 100 people gather to dance to music coming from a tape recorder. Due to the mess left afterwards, they have tried to put a ban on it. But the following day, a newspaper headline read: “Tango forbidden in München”. The following Friday the place was crowded and, of course, they have not been able to stop it since.

There are also the Tango Mondays at the Praterinsel. For a whole month in the summer, dancers and amateurs meet to dance to the music of records and live orchestras. And Marta Giorgi is holding her first Tango Festival at the Deutsches Theater in November, which will feature Argentine dance teachers and orchestras.

As far as tango musicians are concerned, the scenario is not so interesting. Except for myself, there are no experienced Tango performers in Munich. There are, of course, people who play tango, but they offer an indefinite Latin repertoire.

In my view, what Tango needs in Europe –and perhaps not only here- is a boost to give it a rather artistic, cultural status. I am referring to music, dance, literature, image. It should be identified as something more than just an erotic dance, which, in my view, is quite a restricted conception.

When I am driving to a concert listening to a Tango, whatever time it came from, I am always impressed by the composition strength and clarity. Taking into account the fact that tango is a popular style performed by a completely atypical musical formation, I think it is remarkable that such evolution has been achieved in such short time. Few musical styles in the world are as original and rich.

The lack of creativity in popular music is increasingly evident. Globalization gradually homogenizes the popular taste. Candidly, the popular taste has disappeared, the media are shaping it and the people, oblivious, are buying the same things at the same time all around the world. But, fortunately, so far Tango is exempt from this phenomenon. The tango that may seem conservative, even reactionary to many, embraces that deep feeling that cultivates the essence of human emotions; and I am certain that this is the reason why such a huge variety of cultures find in this music some truth; certain experiences that all of us can relate to, even a couple that does not stop and keeps dancing once the song is over.

In my case, I must admit the audience reaction is comforting in general. My music is concert music, although on occasions we do it half-and-half: to dance to, and to listen to. The one with the string orchestra, for instance, is purely a concert program: intense, with new material and some “classics” that I perform in a duet with Gustavo Battistessa, my bandoneonist.

I feel that both here and over there the same things can be done. Certainly, in Argentina my concerts would not be as steady as they are here. But in Munich, I cannot listen to Salgán playing live.

* Luis Borda has been living in Munich, Germany, for eight years. He develops a hectic activity working on his music, very linked to tango.

In the wake of his appearance in Singapore, he recently performed two concerts (October 20 and 21) in the cities of Graz and Kindberg, Austria, with Szene Instrumental, rendering Astor Piazzolla’s double concert for guitar, bandoneon and string orchestra as well as pieces that belong to this formation. The Orchestra was conducted by Wolfgang Hattinger and on bandoneón was Gustavo Battistessa, who regularly takes part in the Borda Quartet in Europe.

He also performed in Augsburg, Germany on October 24 and, on the 25, he appeared at the School of Higher Music Studies in Munich, featuring Nicole Nau and Luis Pereyra dancing. On October 30 he was at the Cervantes Institute in Munich with writer Mempo Giardinelli, his Quartet and an actor, in a musical-literary concert in a tribute to Julio Cortázar, in the framework of “Argentina Hoy”, an event held by the above mentioned institute.

Next November 23, he will join the Guitar festival “Seiten Sprungen” in the southern city of Bad Aibling along with lute player Roman Bunka. Also with Bunka and cellist Jost H. Hecker, he is planning to record an album for the company ENJA called “Orientación”, a fusion of Tango and Oriental music.

In early November, Luis Borda will visit Argentina for the release of his latest album, “Hecho” and to record a new work for CD and DVD along with Argentine figures.



foto_olivieriBy Marcelo Héctor Oliveri
Permanent member of the Academia Porteña del Lunfardo

What is happening to Tango this millenium? Is there any surge of figures or orchestras?

These questions are posed daily. But it suffices to observe how many dance schools there are or how many students, day by day, better themselves, to realize that Tango is still alive in spite of all.
If we carefully read the journals Tangauta and B.A.Tango, we will run into a myriad of milonga advertisements and professional trainers.

The Centro Educativo del Tango (on Agrelo street) and the Academia Nacional del Tango offer courses attended by numerous students year after year.

In entertainment guides, tango prevails: Juan Carlos Copes, Tanguera, Tangou, Miguel Ángel Zotto, Orquesta del Tango de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires and Cacho Castaña’s concerts, Adriana Varela, La Chicana, 34 Puñaladas, la Orquesta Fernández Fierro, Chico Novarro, María Graña, Sexteto Mayor, Julio Pane, Rubén Juárez, Omar Mollo and the ever present –among others- Salgán De Lío and Mariano Mores at the Buenos Aires leading theaters, are hard evidence that the 2-4 wheels will keep in motion for a while.

Other tourist attractions we feature are the “Paseo del Tango” at the Abasto Shopping Center and a Centro Cultural Konex dedicated to our city music. Of course, there are also the Carlos Gardel Museum on Jean Jaurés 735 and all the tango and dance shows held free of charge.

That is the tango of the third millennium. We cannot expect it to sound as it did in the 40’s. Let’s not hope for a new Carlos Gardel. Let’s stop wasting our time discussing about whether Astor Piazzolla is tango or not.

Let’s open our ears and listen. Let’s let Adriana Varela sing and Salgán play. We may like one or the other, or we might not like either. But if we keep at condemning, Tango will be the only one to loose.

Is it unhelpful to have Luis Miguel or Julio Iglesias record tangos? Is it not relevant that the offspring of rock and roll record tangos today?

There is an endless list of Argentine rock stars who have sung and recorded tangos. Some who are worth remembering are Baglietto-Vitale, Moris, Litto Nebbia, Celeste Carballo, Andrés Calamaro, Los Pericos, Omar Mollo and Palo Pandolfo, to name a few.

Many youngsters have approached tango thanks to those recordings by rock stars. The boys and girls who listen to those renderings very often end up listening to the original ones. And that is good. We cannot expect a teenager to simply start listening to Alberto Castillo. But, fortunately, today’s “pibes” know Castillo thanks to Los Auténticos Decadentes.

To this purpose we cannot forget Carlos Gardel. Congresses and discussions are held in his name to debate if he was Argentine, Uruguayan or French.

At this point, nothing new can be written about him. But we can listen to new material from contemporaneous artists.

Rubén Rada, the Uruguayan performer, in addition to recording “El día que me quieras”, dedicates his “Candombe para Gardel” to the “Zorzal”: “Tengo un candombe para Gardel, lindos recuerdos yo tengo de él, te hablo de un tiempo que fue muy gris, con la pobreza cerca de mí, sólo su voz me ponía feliz. Lindo sombrero tenía Gardel, blanca sonrisa como un clavel…” [I have a Candombe for Gardel, I keep nice memories of him, I am talking about a time so gray, with poverty close to me, only his voice would make me happy. A nice hat he had, a white grin like a carnation…]

Can’t Rada’s song coexist with any piece by Gardel or Manzi in an FM 2×4 radio program or on the channel Sólo Tango?

Indeed, both radio and television promote tango of all times, in spite of the fact that tango diehards criticize radio stations because one may suddenly come across the tunes of Adriana Varela or Omar Mollo.

But, as José Gobello put it, “nadie tiene la llave de la tanguedad” [nobody keeps the keys to tango] and it is actually positive for tango to have renovation and for a group –even though it is not a tango group- to dedicate songs to Gardel. They are called “Los Gardelitos” and their song goes like this: “Sólo la música está en mi corazón, sólo la música está a mi alrededor, sólo la música puede darme amor, están haciendo un faso a la vuelta de la esquina, están tomando un vino, corriendo alguna mina, y si no fuera así, que ciudad tan aburrida. De Tablada a Lanús, de Mataderos hasta Flores, de Barracas a La Boca, de Chacarita a La Paternal, la sonrisa de Gardel, la sonrisa de Gardel, ilumina la ciudad, la ciudad que alguna vez, era totalmente de él, era totalmente de él”.

These are only some examples. There are many more and there are thousands of youngsters that, when rehearsing or strumming their guitars, play some tango.

Tango is what Gardel sang; Tango is also what Piazzolla would play around the world and tango is what these youngsters of today sing.

Many of yesterday’s youngsters are now mature gentlemen who think that tango belongs only to them. This must serve as an example for the young people of the third millenium, so as not to “go back” to repeating tomorrow that expression: “The golden age was never the present age” .


artistas_adrian_iaiesLet us not forget about the lyricist…

By Fernando D’Addario

These days tango is an obvious ingredient in the changing dynamics of the average Buenos Aires man. This is unmistakable in some cases, but others go through life without ever making that existential legacy a visible part of their lives. Yet it is there: there are so many stories, characters, situations evoking that everyday expression: “decime, che, si esto no es para escribir un tango…” (hey, is this great tango material or what?). Some of them come to light in different formats: a story, a rock song, an endless conversation with friends, a crime story in a newspaper. Only few of them are eventually revealed to us as “tangos”, in the strict meaning of that term. Some kind of reverential shyness inhibits the pen and the imagination when the time comes to steer many of those stories onto a Tango track, and they remain just what they are, waiting for somebody to render them artistically immortal.

– Acho Estol
– Alejandro Szwarcman
– Daniel Melingo
– Juan Vattuone
– Omar Giammarco
– Peche
– De aquí y de allá

• The most talked-about trio

• Chico & Cacho…

• El Tango que viene

• Tango por la identidad

A handful of writers, however, do venture to turn those experiences Buenos Aires keeps on every corner into tango. “Venturing” involves not only overcoming their own impediments but also surmounting outside obstacles, since several menaces threaten every new lyricist: the spirits of Discépolo, Cátulo and Celedonio are guardians of an excellence difficult to match, and the apologists who preserve and judge others’ excellence complete this framework. Those who succeed in taking the barriers -often self-imposed- become writers. Juan Vattuone, Peche (Buenos Aires Negro), Acho Estol, Omar Giammarco, Alejandro Szwarcman, are some of them. Others team up, like “Letrango”, the Association of Tango Lyricists. They all know that Homero Manzi is still there somehow, and they know that the past is a common ground (even if each one makes his/her own interpretation) and that the present belongs to them. All they have to do is go out and get it.

Today’s production methods and daily habits shape the ways in which tango chooses to speak. Hardly will we go back to those times when, for instance, Aníbal Troilo would urge Enrique Cadícamo to write the verses of “Los dopados”, by Juan Carlos Cobián, ignoring that those lyrics already existed. The new version, performed for the first time by his orchestra and sung by Francisco Florentino, was a huge success and the song was, since, known as “Los mareados”. Nowadays virtually no-one is entrusted with this kind of tasks, nor is there a lyrics and music trade, with directors ever-willing to make them a hit. Established singers do not often risk losing their rank in the historical “Top 100”. Thus the 21st Century Tango lyrics need to find new formats. The famous “you do it” phrase that punk registered 27 years ago now prevails. When an orchestra ceases to be an all-devouring machine, the lyricist becomes part of the band, as in a rock band. On many occasions lyricists are also at the helm of their band, and their songs also express the group’s ideology. The message is conveyed by the words, rather than by the music (again, I’m referring to self-produced bands). In the 40’s, styles were shaped by the orchestra style and the poetry was somewhat secondary to the scheme imposed by each director.

Buenos Aires Negro provides a good example of this role switch. With novel arrangements and influences from rock and jazz, this band is all about tango. Singer and lyricist Peche is perhaps responsible for that atmosphere. Their songs constitute urgent suburban radiographies; they sing about the here and now with virtually unprecedented, dirty realism. La Chicana resorts to a different aesthetics, but the same responsibility falls on director/lyricist Acho Estol. He is the foundation of the band’s ideology, in spite of the strong character brought in by singer Dolores Solá. Their lyrics are a far cry from making up a modern repertoire, yet they speak of the modern man. They are stories about our habits, usually resorting to yesterday’s metaphors and imagery.

So new conflicts rise here: language and theme. What “language” should we use to approach tango? The 1920’s lunfardo, revisited so many times (remember the milongas that Edmundo Rivero recorded in the 60’s), or the vernacular used by today’s kids? Should we sing about the accustomed issues –abandonment and nostalgia- “adjusting” them by means of IT-related verses and walks in shopping malls?

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The paths are diverging, since the expression “Lyrics of the 21st Century” does not entail a homogeneous concept. Daniel Melingo, with his rock roots, explores the Buenos Aires outskirts of the early 20th Century, by means of a somewhat self-parody spirit: as he sings about the marginal world of brothels, he resorts to a humoristic viewpoint that reminisce today’s brothel-goers. On occasions the deliberately old ingredients are brought back as modern spices, and vice-versa. Carlos Ceretti, with musician Carlos Buono, went for the overt, clear reference: one of his tangos is called “Carritos cartoneros”. The time specificity is quite evident. He wonders “¿Quién te mintió Primer Mundo, Buenos Aires?” [Who claimed you were the First World, Buenos Aires]. The song does not provide an answer, yet it can be easily derived. Others chose to take a different approach. Juan Vattuone, for instance, brings into play a lunfardo applicable to reality, conveying a poetry based on humor and craftiness. He has another quality that seems to prevail among today’s writers: that of the singer-songwriter, a figure foreign to traditional tango. A singer would sing what others would write. Today tango welcomes a soloist who draws on his expertise fully, that is, not only from the vocal technique or the repertoire viewpoint but also as far as creation is concerned. Omar Giammarco, for instance, has resorted to a quintet formation and musical eclecticism (since he not only deals with tango but also with murga, candombe and milonga), yet he writes, composes, arranges, sings and plays.

If one does not fall back on this work system, the task of becoming a part of today’s tango circle is a challenging one, since our music is indeed sentenced to the whims of the record business. However there are some exceptions: Alejandro Szwarcman is one of them. Just like the early poets, he writes, yet he does not have a music business of his own; his lyrics circulate in the industry and are eventually recorded by different soloists and bands who appreciate his elegiac poetry, deeply committed to the spirit of Buenos Aires. Patricia Barone and Javier González Cuarteto’s demand for lyrics to feed their songs is met by that poetry supply: they summon diverse writers, from the very Szwarcman to Adriana Turchetti, to Alberto Ortiz and the established Héctor Negro. Self-management and the creation of novel narrative constructions also prevail nowadays. El Proyecto Monotemático, by Sebastián Carassai (with Osvaldo Palau and Walter Abadíe), constitutes a good example of this: this work is presented as a book, including a prologue, chapters and an epilogue. It features tangos and valses that serve as a thread to narrate a story about obsession.

That holly respect that I mentioned earlier also unleashes opposite responses: young lyricists do not feel obliged to comply with stylistic conventions and, every so often, even dare to arouse controversy. Acho Estol translated a Tom Waits song (“Frank’s Wild Years”) and gave it a tango, Buenos Aires-like key. His “creation” is called Los años de joda de Aníbal.

For all those who consider that after such masterpieces as Sur and Barrio de tango, Pompeya should be closed down until new creators emerge, let me rectify that. Szwarcman has found a new dimension in the Universe of Pompeya, one related to recent history, which is nothing but the continuance of the other history: Pompeya no olvida evokes a missing woman, and Pompeya para Diego era París is a tribute to Maradona and so many other nameless, suffering people from the outskirts.

Women, formerly consigned to the role of “cancionistas” [female singers], also have a great deal to say. María José Demare, Adriana Turchetti and Clori Gatti, to name only a few, present evidence of the healthy intent to find a unique language, far from all clichés. Gabriela Torres sang about the “Nunca más” in her album Círculos de fuego, summoning lyricists from different backgrounds, like Iván Noble, Flavio Cianciarullo and Adrián Abonizio. Rock –as it has often been stated— put and end to –or perhaps delayed- tango’s thematic renewal. We do not even have to think of rock legends, like Javier Martínez (Manal) and Moris to search for tango stars. Now we can simply observe those 60,000 people (mostly teenagers) shout themselves hoarse at the Los Piojos concert in the River stadium while Andrés Ciro is singing their pseudo-punk version of “Yira Yira”, with the invaluable contribution of Omar Mollo (another example of a musician intimately connected to both tango and rock). Or feeling the excitement stirred at a La Renga concert every time their fans chant the verses of La nave del olvido, a song written by a rock star from Mataderos (Chizzo) who has unmistakably walked through the streets of Pompeya. And for those who want to listen to the dark side of Tango, but in a different musical format, there is the magnificent Pequeña Orquesta Reincidentes.

As you may have realized by now, in order to survive, tango must do both, stand by and reject its own myths, in a shifting, feedback practice. There certainly is material, yet it is not enough. Established singers claim that lyricists have become extinct. Lyricists claim that performers no longer summon them, since it is easier to sing a Cadícamo or a Vattuone. The tourist circuit often overlooks the new creators and focuses on tango dance, but the more restless visitors go one step further, they want to know what this city thinks about, feels and dreams of. Even the Buenos Aires people express, sometimes involuntarily, a similar curiosity. Is there anything better than tango to go out and unravel those mysteries?

Links de interés

Links de interés

Una completa biografía del bandoneonista, con todas las formaciones que integró, y audios de sus temas en el sitio todotango.com.

La crítica publicada en el diario Clarín del documental dedicado a Federico, “Por la vuelta”, dirigido por Cristian Pauls.

La designación del músico como Ciudadano Ilustre de Buenos Aires.

La lista de distinciones al bandoneonista.

Leopoldo Federico en la red.

El músico tiene varios discos editados en Japón. En el site de Sony de Japón, el lanzamiento de uno de sus álbumes.


artistas_34_punaladasBy Gabriel Plaza



“Qué saben lo que es tango lamidos y shushetas?” [What do “lamidos” and “shushetas” know about tango?] Alberto Castillo would sing in the 40’s, referring to Tango snobs and to those who had lost their lower class conscience.

In this decade no-one can provide a more precise definition to outline the debate and to recapture certain essence, certain origins that vanish in the Riachuelo haze and that seem to have been lost over recent years.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Tango is not only for rich kids, it is not merely a New Yorker’s souvenir or a postcard of a Japanese who has bought a piece of history comprised in a bandoneón lying around in a house in Villa Urquiza. Tango is also the culture, the spirit and pain of a city that has changed. It is no longer the trams that travel her roads now; it is the frightful fatality of those night ghosts that pick up whatever they can carry in their trolleys, while the city is asleep.

It is not the same Buenos Aires, although deep down she still thinks she is the Rio de la Plata princess, Europe’s spoiled child. It is a fact: Buenos Aires is not as spoiled as she was anymore, and she is increasingly becoming similar to Latin America. And over these years of Tango resurrection only few lyricists have ventured to hit a raw nerve to erase the hypocrite years of a Recoleta Tango, with farfetched, academic metaphors. However, it is true that certain chroniclers have began to appear who force others to rethink the genre as one with new rules and new sounds. They are black ships to tango purists. To the unprejudiced, this is an interesting way to listen to Tango, submerged in other skins, in other voices and harmonies, like the Pequeña Orquesta Reincidentes, Angela Tullida, Palo Pandolfo or Romina y Los Urbanos: heirs of the role that national rock played when tango was subdued.

EIn the transition toward a new tango song are unmentionable, damned legends. Singer-songwriter Juan Vattuone is one of them. In the years when many tango performers would have their pictures taken with former president Menem in the Presidential Palace, singer-songwriter Vattuone would dedicate him a song called “Misántropo” (“due to his hate for human beings”, he would clear up), or he would talk about “Yuta Lorenzo”, a torturer who died of love in the arms of a transvestite. These days a restless (sub)urban poetics keeps circulating the shores, the margins, the dark areas and the blurry border between downtown and the General Paz highway. They are more realistic, more obscure, more tragic expressions of a city living different times. If you are alert, you will be able to hear paving stones bleeding dry and wigs flying off when Peche, the singer in Buenos Aires Negro (new tango lyrics and rock attitude) sings those crude, bittersweet elegies about a tormented Buenos Aires that comes to: “Buenos días, a los que ya no están, muertos, vivos, desaparecidos, sobre las calles grises de esta ciudad/ Buenos días a los cristos que van entrando en trenes hacinados con el peine en el bolsillo/ Buenos días a los hijos del mundo y su buena estrella, y a vos que amanecés conmigo en la ventana del micro y nos espera un Retiro ciego y frío”.

Recreación y búsqueda

Recreación y búsqueda
artistas_alberto_hidalgoPor Julio Nudler




Diverse styles and approaches have always coexisted in Tango: the De Caros with the Canaros or Lomutos, the Salgáns with D’Arienzo, or Fresedo with Tanturi.

In today’s Tango that diversity revives, with groups and voices bringing back different times or approaches of tradition, with others that draw artistic sustenance from Piazzolla and with a few attempting to keep refreshing the language. Fortunately, a critic may mention numerous examples of high quality in every sphere.

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Whoever wishes to know new singers can listen to Hernán Lucero (the vocals in Bardos Cadeneros, fabulous guitars), or to Néstor Basurto, from the outstanding Quinteto Ventarrón, and also to Daniel Rivera, from the magnificent Orquesta Contratiempo (former Sexteto Arrabal), and to Walter “Chino” Laborde, vocalist in the Pugliese style orchestra Orquesta Típica Fernández Fierro, or to Ariel Ardit, from El Arranque, and let’s not forget romantic Oscar Pometti or Javier “Cardenal” Domínguez, and the never-to-be-forgotten Alfredo Sáez, of more mature years.Among female singers, who largely exceed male singers, stands out remarkable Victoria Morán, although Patricia Noval has earned a prominent position. Other female performers to be considered are Chilean Elizabeth Figueroa and Malena Muyala.

As far as the purely instrumental arena is concerned Quinteto Pantaleón stands out for its thorough reconstruction of Piazzolla, and Pablo Mainetti and Sonia Possetti’s quintets, each of them standing out in their own field, as well as Marcelo Mercadante and, indeed, Pablo Ziegler’s quintets, in addition to groups as ambitious as Néstor Crespo’s El Tranvía, or La Camorra, and the guitarist Cuarteto Monserrat. Moreover, there are the great soloists, or independent creators with variable assemblies, such as Marcelo Nisinman or Juan D’Argenton, and the whole European movement, composed of Argentines like Juan José Mosalini or Luis Borda, and non-Arentines like the matchless Dutch Sextet Canyengue (Pugliese + Piazzolla), to mention a few.

There are too many omissions in this outline, but there also exists the certainty that both those mentioned and those unmentioned artists evoke a dazzling scenario of recreation and search.


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A Tango dream






At the age of 76 and after 6 decades of stage performance, Leopoldo Federico confesses that he has finally learned to enjoy recording studios and he yearns to perform with the orchestra that once accompanied Julio Sosa. Face to face with one of the bandoneón icons, who is about to go on a tour around Japan.

By Andrés Casak

From the headquarters of the “Asociación Argentina de Intérpretes” [Association of Argentine Performers], an institution he has presided for 17 years, Leopoldo Federico opens his eyes wide and reveals his great wish: “you know how much I would have enjoyed that? I have been to many places with Julio Sosa, and it was always a hit thanks to him. But a positive memory remains of the orchestra. Many years have gone by and many of the musicians are still alive. I would like for somebody to hold a tour around those places where we would perform.
I have dreamt about Sosa’s repertoire, it’s all there and I want to play a tango with his voice recorded or with some other singer. Putting together something like that would be a very emotional experience”.

With his combination of brutal honesty and modesty, the bandoneonist becomes excited when he talks about his projects. There are a few. It is curious: you cannot say it is a comeback, but a fit of intense activity for a performer that at the age of 76 and after having gone through a few health problems, takes care oh his agenda in no haste. “After being in this for more than 60 years, I really don’t want to perform another concert for promotion’s sake. Enough of that”, he explains.

First is the trip to Japan with his orchestra. A one-month tour closing in Tokyo is due from November 29. Three Japanese bandoneones will join in: the renown Ryota Komatsu is among them. Far away, Leopoldo is playing in the home team: he has made over 6 tours in Japan since 1976. In fact, many of the posters that line the walls in his office are show advertisements in complex eastern language. What may be the most efficient promotion is the announcement of this tour as the last tour in Japan by Leopoldo Federico.

“I arranged with the promoter to advertise this as a farewell tour in Japan, I ‘m not 20 anymore. But I am not signing any paper saying I’m not coming back. If tomorrow somebody new comes to me and I feel fine, I wouldn’t be letting anyone down. He wants to do that type of advertisement and I am authorizing it. I think it is reasonable”.

– Do you enjoy the touring life?

– When you arrive to Japan, you feel like you are in a whole different planet, for many different reasons. I am not saying there is no crime, but over there we live in a different scenario, as if we disappeared from the real world for that one month. Mind you, during the first tour we spent three hectic months traveling by bus, raft, ship and plane. We performed one concert after travelling for 27 hours. I remember saying to the boys: “I’ve done military service, and this must be the closest thing to it”.

– So you have no retirement plans yet?

– I am not planing a definite retirement yet. I have always wondered: the day the finals come: will the bandoneón be leaving me or will it be me who leaves the bandoneón? That is still not clear to me.

– Even though you always stand up for your orchestra, why don’t we see much of you live?

– Because it is impossible to arrange it. It is very nice to perform but then you have to wait three or four months to get paid. And the musicians have to be ok with it. Including the singer, we are 10 musicians traveling to Japan. It’s three bandoneones, when they should be four, following the tradition. I am going with three violins, instead of four. The least you can ask for is four bandoneones and four violins, a viola, a cello, a piano y and a double bass. It is all due entirely to economic reasons. For instance, now they want to take me to Tucumán, but that would mean ten plane tickets and that’s quite steep. Some boys go on promotion tours, and that is perfectly fine. But, to be honest, I don’t really feel like doing that now.

The Records and the Industry

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The Records and the Industry


By Gustavo Margulies
(Producer, ex Epsa Music Art Director)

The Argentine tango record industry is doing well at present. This phenomenon stems from various trends: today’s composers and performers’ outstanding artistic talent, the comeback of somewhat forgotten artists and the re-release of superb material from the past. Not to mention the rebirth of the world’s interest in tango and the technical breakthroughs. In addition, since the tango record industry is not exactly an industry that shows high turnovers, it remains safe from the devastating consequences of music piracy…

Still, with some creativity and a dash of know-how, this industry will go a long way. Certainly, the decisive factors will be financial resources, time availability and strategic decision-making. As to promotion –of both composers and performers- the appearance and continuance on air of the Sólo Tango television network has beyond doubts marked a turning point, thanks to its regular schedule and the special shows that aired on channel 7. Not to mention the Radio de la Ciudad and FM 92.7 radio stations and the numerous web sites, like Tangodata and Tangocity. There is also a recent wave of formerly indifferent radio stations and cable TV shows that are increasingly adhering to this genre. Another important factor has been the spreading of competitions, live performances at new theaters and milongas, where live-performing orchestras are replacing records, as is the case with Torquato Tasso and Porteño y Bailarín, whose important advertising campaigns favor all parties; an example that will hopefully be followed by many. Equally important has been the recent work of La Trastienda and the ND / Ateneo. And the BAM experience (Buenos Aires Música) has certainly ripped good fruits. Needless to say, it would be ideal if the state-owned media would grant further resources and provide their spaces for tango events. Musicians, tango, audiences and tourists would very much appreciate it… Strategies require an overview of the present work, a search for the media that best suit the band’s needs and the record to be marketed and a search for “partners”, so that everyone wins…

Multinational companies have, throughout time, contributed much to tango, and extremely valuable material is being released by themselves or through associate companies… And the recovery of old recordings is quite encouraging. However, independent labels have taken the lead in the new artist realm, perhaps due to the fact that they take ideological risks and design long-term strategies rather than expecting quick, more evident yields. Moreover, I consider the government support to be essential in virtually every Argentine musical genre and not only in the Tango arena.

I have worked in this industry since the early 80’s, when Paul Stringa, Enrique Blanco and I founded and developed the label Circe, in reality a rather bohemian group of friends that released music only in tapes… and in many cases, we were funded by the very performers. Back then, the interesting MIA experience was still recent, Litto Nebia was beginning to make up his catalogue with Melopea, it was the time of the forerunner Irco-Cosentino, Tarka, La historia de Trova, there was good Redondel material… And there were less “independent” productions, probably because vinyl and, later, CD releases were too expensive at first and tapes –although Circe had compulsorily had to resort to it- were neither the most accurate material nor the one with the best reputation. Therefore, in retrospective, Tango is going through a very interesting phase and we should make the most of this, resorting to our creativity and work..

Everyone’s Polaco

Everyone’s Polaco
By Fernando D’Addario

Afiche Polaco

Roberto Goyeneche’s figure encloses much paradox both personally and professionally. However one question mark stands out: what kind of a strange spell still preserves “Polaco” regardless of all turning points, stylistic transformations and existential differences, well into the 21st Century and ten years after his passing? This piece is certainly unlikely to resolve the mystery -to which Goyeneche would be completely indifferent. Yet, it may be worth turning to that time, those streets and today’s characters to learn about the nature of a validity that disregards the formal limits of tango.

“Polaco certainly had guts, not only in life but also on stage. Whatever style he explored, he made it his own”, claims Peche Estévez, the singer of Buenos Aires Negro, a band that lives and portrays the current Buenos Aires experience. On Thursday morning, the streets of the Buenos Aires district of Saavedra seem to convey an ambiguous picture: an old world of bars and modest restaurants gives way to a traffic frenzy, with cars and buses fleeing to the North down Balbín Avenue (for ever “Avenida del Tejar” in Polaco’s mind). At the historic bar La Sirena, the coming leading anniversary (no feat by Platense, the local soccer team, will ever overshadow the memory of the singer’s anniversaries) does not alter the regulars’ customary protocol: talking about football and this country. Goyeneche is implicit. When asked about him, a 35-year-old, the youngest one of them, replies: “I hear he used to seat over there…”. “Over there” is one of the tables facing the corner of Av. Del Tejar and Núñez. His friend, somewhat older, points out that he had never listen to tango until he saw the film “Sur”, by Pino Solanas; and that then, Polaco and tango, Saavedra and the Barracas smoke, nostalgia and today, magically blended in and helped him reach maturity.

Twenty-five blocks away, at the Platense stadium, the boys get ready for the Saturday game.
The club, familiarly known as `El Calamar´, leads the second soccer division league. When Polaco left, the team was playing in the top-level league. One of the stands has been named after him. In the eighth row, 21-year-old Javier nostalgically reveals: “Polaco was a great dude. He really had a rock-and-roll vein. They say he was a real nighthawk. And that during the day all he talked about was Platense”. Have you ever listened to his music? –he is asked with no inquiring tone. “My old man made me listen to his music. He actually met him in person. He usually plays this tango called ‘Balada para un loco’, I really dig that one”. Here Polaco seems to have gotten rid of the neat, “national hero” tango suit to become a figure “heavier” than nu metal singers.

But what about tango? El Arranque’s Ariel Ardit passes over the character talk to approach Goyeneche as a singer. “You hear so many talk about the profound Goyeneche from the last years, but I think that Polaco’s best work, as a singer, is that from the 50’s and 60’s, like when he recorded those pieces with Troilo. That’s where his technique can be enjoyed to perfection”. The argument could go on and on. All the elements that the young, “non-tango” generations relate to are a far cry from the strictly tango realm. There exists, however, a sober Polaco, one with exquisite intonation, one who performs in the Orquesta de Salgán, one who is established thanks to his work with Troilo, one who later gains great popularity among tango fans as a soloist. Should an immediate conclusion be in order, it could be that Goyeneche became an absolute timeless icon when his technique as well as his voice “deteriorated”, which may have resulted –always according to the myth- in his transformation into a new urban character, as if compensated by divine intervention.

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Nevertheless, there exists an imprecise territory where all possible “Goyeneches” converge in spite of time: that of the singer, who regardless of his vocal possibilities, gradually fashioned a performing model distant from any trite tango prototype. A singing style remote from the habits that so many of his predecessors had acquired. A “precise” way of singing and telling. A new expressiveness paradigm that, in order to subsist, had to resort to verisimilitude and credibility. Goyeneche’s work is immeasurable (with over 2,500 recordings according to the very artist). Yet it is no coincidence that his most long-lasting work is made up by those tangos that convey timeless emotion, arrogant stories typical of the Buenos Aires suburbs scene, stories about the Buenos Aires “macho”. The great Homero Expósito was possibly the poet who best understood Goyeneche, if we take into account Polaco’s creative nature on stage. Expósito’s handling of the rhyme -which aimed at highlighting the phrase focus- as well as the topics he chose perfectly fit Polaco’s expressive requirements. The songs “Afiches”, “Naranjo en flor” and “Maquillaje”, among others –either due to their elegiac nature or their evocative romanticism- arouse, through Polaco, a feeling of relatedness that disregards time and space, since they express an almost metaphysical “truth”. The French newspaper Le Monde once said Polaco was actually capable of leaving an audience speechless by reading the telephone book. Even though this fortunate metaphor defines Polaco’s metaphysical richness, the argument does contain fallacious nuances; Goyeneche would not sing just anything. And many are thankful, even today, for that noble gesture.

The story has it that Goyeneche never abandoned his simple “barrio” character, having adopted a devoted profile, a concept that comprised much more than just a cluster of houses, bars and friends. Yet his figure did acquired a “porteño” side, one that would turn him into a universal figure, crossing the borders of the Buenos Aires district in many ways. A fan of Gardel but also of Tony Benett, a tango advocate, still a friend of the rock and roll gang, Goyeneche became a strange transnational singing icon, resorting to aloofness rather to autochthonous exhibitionism. When he became apparently “fragile” and devoid of his magnificent voice, he grew into the figure of Tango Argentino and gained worldwide acclaim. He recorded with Mercedes Sosa and sang with Fito Páez; sponsored Adriana Varela and was accompanied by pianist Sammy Davis Jr., an episode witnessed by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. But not once, no matter where he was, did he ever forget to ask about the score in the last Platense game.

There are those who prefer the “Gardelian” neatness from his early recordings; others bring out certain bizarre expressionism from his last work; others highlight that intermediate period, in the 70’s, with the “Orquesta Típica Porteña”, directed by Garello and Berlingieri. Nevertheless, in Polaco’s 50-year career, the comings and goings were always secondary to his search for “the essential”, that element that knows no genres, that travels from generation to generation. He was once criticized for recording songs like “La Cigarra” in untraditional formats. But his subsequent statement that “La Cigarra is me: I have resurrected a thousand times” left him off the hook. He was referring to his physical weakness, his shaking hand, his vanishing voice. Today, ten years after his passing, Goyeneche listens to his own words –sung by tango, rock or folk performers- committed to visceral honesty.


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icon_armando_vidal_gdeBy Armando Vidal



Large clubs -for instance, soccer clubs- are looking elsewhere.

It has not dawned on them yet that they can recover much of the popularity they once had on the dance floors, not only on the pitch.
Shall we go back to the half of a century that has passed? No, we shall look ahead. Behind us are, like living pictures, Héctor Varela, Juan D’Arienzo, Aníbal Troilo, Osvaldo Pugliese and Carlos Di Sarli, along with Jazz Casino, Varela Varelita, Barry Moral, Oscar Aleman and Feliciano Brunelli –names that reverberate among the leading groups of that time –and with encounters and “syncopated music” in a spectacular framework of people. Unforgettable pictures for witnesses –today’s grandparents- that feel like protagonists of the pleasure their parents shared. Dancing, a pleasure that conceived love affairs and lives, literally.

Distracted, with no vocation for patronage, lacking any historical awareness, the management at those clubs do not even seem to realize that there are in Buenos Aires – and not only here- ballrooms where the tribute to the dance is preserved, where, primarily, the tribute to Tango is preserved. Grisel, Sur, La Trastienda, Viejo Correo, Lo de Celia, the old and dilapidated Confitería Ideal are among them. There are also the smaller clubs, full of magic, such as Sunderland, in Villa Urquiza, a court for the demanding and bohemians, the wonderful La Boca club, with a party held every Saturday, a club sponsored by Boca Juniors yet not understood by them.

Every day at every hour from noon there is a milonga in Buenos Aires. On that stage, which is here and there, appear dancers –young dancers with the beauty of age, sensual ladies and tireless veterans- a unique community as regards typology, since it pays tribute to the most intimate, captivating dance in the whole world.

This show is gaining an increasing number of supporters thanks to the work of numerous masters that expand their art of moving to the rhythm, sharing a common space that turns anti-clockwise and that shelters two hearts beating next to each other in every spot a couple stands. They hold classes for a few pennies an hour. A few pennies that change routines and lives. Whoever doubts it can prove it.

In Catalinas Sur there is a theater displaying the clearest, most brilliant history lesson, since it narrates Pampean vicissitudes from “Fulgor Argentino”, a local club. While everything happens, the same couple, dressed in the same way, dances the same tango that only he and she can hear.

Symbol of memory and resistance, tango is here, in the arms of our children, knocking doors at large clubs, those that once were popular inside.

Open up management, “Tango is Tango if there is milonga, whether it is that of yesterday or that of today”, sings Alberto Castillo, Gardel for milonga’s buffs.

Open up Boca, open up River. The first one to do it is the winner.