Each year, the couple of weeks surrounding the New Year celebrations become poignant when we are shocked or saddened by deaths of famous people.
This year I will remember for the passing of wonderful Alberto Podestá and of course one of my great heroes since I was a lad, David Bowie.
When I first met Sr. Podestá I was so new to tango that I didn't know who he was! He was a visiting "famous" tango singer who sang with a playback tape and I was not impressed.
You can imagine how mortified I was when I finally found out just WHO he was. No longer would I put quotation marks around the word famous!
He simply sang the ass of every other singer in the world of tango in the sense that no one recorded with as many great famous orquestas. His body of work with Di Sarli, Laurence, and Caló alone rank him at the top. (But when I met him, I also didn't know who Pedro Laurenz was, so É excuse).
Ten years ago (and 15 years after my first encounter) I was able to give him all my restorations of his recordings (some 80 tunes that I had worked on because they are all for dancing). The tear the playing of my renderings brought to his eye in the club that night meant something extra to me, as I'm sure you can imagine. He said he hadn't heard the music so clear since the original recording sessions with the musicians behind him.
By the time he was 16 in 1942, he was cranking out massive hits with the biggest orquestas.
As one of his biggest fans after I started learning who was who, don Alberto has been special because he was our last live contact with THE great golden tango musicians we love so dearly. Just by being alive he made all of tango music seem closer - not at all a thing of the past.
He lived long and - graciously - gave us so much. He embodied the great Artist worthy of great respect. What a thing to have lived and breathed in the same times as the most prolific hit-maker vocalist of tango tango.
My small bit of head-held-up about David Bowie is that I was playing him on the radio in Toronto 3 years before anyone else did; and I played him every night when his first album came out. I played 9 of the 10 tracks on a regular basis because it was just SO great. Space Oddity didn't become a hit here until re-issued at the very end of '72. I couldn't understand why he wasn't making it in North America (I guess most people weren't listening to my radio show)! But the first package was called, Man of Words/Man of Music and that actually nailed it. With a beautiful fold-out cover and all lyrics printed, it was a lovely package. I didn't know a ything about him, I was just astonished by his music. I felt Like I had spent 3 years in the wilderness with him in a way. It was incomprehensible to me why he wasn't a big star already. And when you're a teenager, 3 years is a very long time.
Two excellent BBC documentaries: David Bowie and The Story Of Ziggy Stardust; David Bowie - 5 Years.
He liberated our society as he inspired millions over and over.
I just loved these two artists - Alberto Podestá and David - and always will. To me, one can measure the importance of an artist by imagining what the genre would miss without the legacy they leave. In tango, you cannot imagine no Podestá nor in rock, no David Bowie. Can you?
After History Did A Bad
New Aha! Moments
Undeniably the music is crucial. So why has it never been treated with the respect it truly deserves?
I don't mean by you or me personally, but collectively by everyone who has ever loved tango. We've never thought about sound quality beyond accepting that classic tango mostly sounds inferior for whatever reason history decided. And that's OK. Or is it? What exactly did history do?
Is It Possible ...
There are Tremendous Orquestas
You've Never Heard - But SHOULD?
Oh, yes. And I mean sublime music every bit as good for dancing as your all-time favourites. As soon as you hear them, you know right away this is why you love tango.
teachers and every dancer's pleasure at home and mobile
- Quality and depth you've never heard
- In chronological and alphabetical order by Orquesta!
- Volume of songs equal - no constant adjusting
- Timing between songs automatically natual for dance
- Titles indicate whether instrumental or vocal
Who Did What?
About Juan D'Arienzo & Rodolfo Biagi
All dancers in Buenos Aires and Montevideo knew it at the time: it was Biagi's genius that REALLY made D'Arienzo the iconic "El Rey de Compas."
Without Biagi running the band musically from 1935-38, D'Arienzo would have come down in history as a minor orquesta leader. And the Big Explosion of tango before WWII still resonating today wouldn't have happened.
Double Clicks! !
A Restoration Moment
Carlos Gardel had been dead 24 years when, in 1959, Fransisco Canaro took the inventive step of recording band tracks to surround old Gardel recordings. (They had recorded live together in 1930).
Now, to clean them up, I have two layers of record clicks and noise to eliminate - Canaro's record (I took it from lp) and the Gardel recordings within it. ("Sampling" was thus done in the 50's in Argentina, but they didn't have the ability to clean the old 78's at that time).
Listening now to Canaro's work restored, it sounds quite remarkable. He orchestrated a caress of modern orquesta around the bare voice and guitars of the original late-20's Gardel recordings ... letting us imagine a Carlitos of a later era - with a sexier rhythm.
(This was done when Natalie Cole was but a child and her father Nat was still recording the music she would sing the duets with 35 years later).
Here is how Mi Noche Triste sounds after taking out the double set of noise.
I'm working on correcting a couple of my transcriptions of songs and the restorations of yours that I've worked with were much easier to transcribe than the source material I have from CDs.
Ben Bogart.com / Cuarteto Tanguero
Astor Piazzolla and Nadia Boulanger
The Woman Who Unlocked Genius
Over and Over Again
Astor Piazzolla, Daniel Barenboim, Quincy Jones, Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, Egberto Gismonti, Michel Legrand, just to name a few ...
Consider her transformational influence on Piazzolla.
Sort-of Channelled Piazzolla
And: cooking with Fire in Argentina
Just watched the (great) new Netflix documentary series, "Chef's Table." Show #1 is about Bottura.
Massimo is the most important chef in Italy as you know and an engaging personality who contributes in large ways. His Modena restaurant is ranked #3 in the world and he is beloved by fans everywhere.
After showing how Massimo organized 40,000 people around the world to buy parmigiano that was in jeopardy after the Modena earthquake and use it in a special recipe he concocted, an Italian authority talks about how when Massimo started he was hated in Italy by the people. He was a revolutionary! Off with his head!
So of course I couldn't help but think of Piazzolla enduring what he did from Argentines in his years of being a pariah.
Courage of your convictions, artistic people!
I've noticed there is a constant when you see tv shows of top chefs visiting Argentina, by the way: they can't believe how fantastic it is to eat food simply cooked on an open fire. Assado becomes their favourite new word.
One American cooking show went there and focussed on the 7 different kinds of open fire used for cooking in Argentina. Fascinating and terrific food for thought.
Of course I have tango music playing in my mind as I watch, even though folklore fights to take over and then I want to reach for my boleadoras after I see them pulling fish out of the lake and cooking them over the camp fire under the stars.
Did you know that the next-best thing about Argentina after tango is cooking with fire? Of course you did.
I don't eat meat, so most Argentines think there is something very wrong with me. Off with his head!
Inspiration for Animation
Walt Disney is usually associated with early animated films, but Disney is said to have been inspired by the Argentine filmmaker Quirino Cristiani.
About Tending To Your Music
Or Did You Think These Quotations Were About Gardening?
(A Good DJ is Always Re-Visiting Opinions and Habits, no? And "growing" new playlists)
...requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration.
... is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.
The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.
I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the ... (library)
It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening (dj-ing). You have got to love your ... whether you like it or not.
The Tango Trance
Seek it, and it will elude you;
Talk about it in too much detail
and it will haunt you evily.
Live for it, and you will die many deaths.
Treasure it, but don't hold onto it.
Dance with love and freedom
and it will embrace you.
Be vulnerable, and feel it's power.
As always, thanks for reading!
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