When beginners start to explore tango music, they often ask “Which kind of music is the best for me to try first?” Of course there is no perfect answer, but almost always I recommend the music of Carlos Di Sarli, an orchestra leader often referred to as “El Señor De Tango”. His highly danceable music, especially his recordings of the mid-1940s to mid-1950s, is very popular in many tango classes. So when people who have just started dancing tango go to milongas and hear pieces such as “Bahía Blanca”, “A La Gran Muñeca” or “El Once”, they usually recall them as the songs played by their tango teachers as they attempted their first steps. The reason this music is a favourite for teaching is because of its slow but strong beat and an elegant melody – an ideal combination to train the ears of all newcomers to tango.
The Carlos Di Sarli title in the “RCA Victor 100 Años” series is an all-round excellent album. This CD collects many of Di Sarli’s classics from the 1950s, among them “Bahia Blanca” (which should be familiar to many people after featured as the soundtrack of a Heineken television advertisement), “A La Gran Muñeca”, “El Choclo”, “Comme Il Faut” and “La Cumparsita” (the song usually played at the end of a milonga). The recordings on this CD have had noise-reduction treatment to remove the hiss and crackle of their original recordings. This gives them a sense of newness. Indeed, listening to them it is easy to wonder if the music was recorded a lot more recently rather than around half a century ago.
Both the RCA Victor 100 Años and the Inolvidables disk comprise mostly instrumental pieces. If you prefer his pieces with singing, then try “Carlos Di Sarli – Sus Primeros Exitos Vol. 1”, “Sus Primeros Exitos Vol. 2” and “Porteño Y Bailarín”, all part of the “Tango Argentino” series issued by RCA.
“Sus Primeros Exitos Vol. 1 ” collects the classics of Di Sarli sung by Roberto Rufino. The combination of Di Sarli and Rufino was one of the great pairings in tango history. Many of their productions are classics, admired as much today as when they were recorded. Among the highlights of this CD are Rufino’s first recording with Di Sarli in 1939, “Corazón”. Vals-lovers are certain to like “Alma Mia” and “Rosamel”. Rufino worked with Di Sarli from 1939-1944, a period when the latter’s beat was faster and more rhythmic than in his lusher, more grandiose works of the 1950s.
“Sus Primeros Exitos Vol. 2” collects lyrical pieces sung by another renowned singer, Alberto Podestá (who, incidentally, is still alive and performing in Buenos Aries). He started as a Di Sarli vocalist before reaching the age of 18. This album includes many classics recorded between 1944 and 1947, among them “Nada”, “La Capilla Blanca”, “Vamos!”, “Junto A Tu Corazón” and “Tu! ... El Cielo Y Tu!”. These songs are as good as guaranteed to pull dancers on to the floor when played at a milonga.
“Porteño Y Bailarín” is a collection of Di Sarli’s music with Jorge Duran as vocalist. Its best-known tracks include “Porteño Y Bailarín”, “Que No Sepan Las Estrellas” and “Tus Labios Me Dirán”. The album also has a few famous instrumental pieces, among them “Marianito”, “El Ingeniero” and “El Pollito”. As the album collects recordings ranging from 1945 to 1958, it has a more varied style than the Rufino and Podestá CDs.
For anyone wondering how best to lay the foundations for a tango CD collection, or simply wanting to have some great music to listen and dance to, any – or all – these five CDs are an excellent place to start.Editted by Simon Cartledge © 2006 Hong Kong Tango Lab