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December 30, 2008

Concert - Café de los Maestros

Mariano Mores conducting
Orquesta de la Café de los Maestros (click to enlarge)


The Tango Golden Era of the 1940s is well and alive in 2008
Letter from Buenos Aires, December 11, 2008.
By Beatriz Dujovne

Sixty plus years later I was part of the Golden Era for two hours. Film director Gustavo Santaolalla, who produced two CDs, a book, a DVD, and a movie - all called “Café de los Maestros”-, was ready for The Maestros’ second one-time live performance. (The first was in August 2006, at the opera house.) His ambitious project gathered tango directors, musicians and singers from the 1940s. The seats at Teatro Rex on Corrientes Avenue (where tango action took place in the 1940s) were totally sold out. Some artists represented 6, 7 and 8 decades of tango.

Sitting next to a stranger in a show of this nature is having access to a temporary instructor. I do not have to wonder if my neighbor knows the artists’ careers. I assume he or she knows. So I ask what I want to know. In this case, he fills me in about the age and the most remarkable aspect of each musician and singer to appear on stage.

Leopoldo Federico, first row, glasses (click to enlarge)

Orquesta de la Café de los Maestros (click to enlarge)

This show was as nostalgic as tangos can get. The artists I remembered at the climax of their careers were in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.

At the beginning and end of each number the audience applauded, shouting with fervor.

Some highlights:

Gabriel “Chula” Clausi (born 1911, played with Firpo, Maffia, Julio De Caro) had to be helped to his seat on the stage; when he sat down he played the bandoneon beautifully. He was the oldest of the bunch and the only one to receive a standing ovation. "Alfred Arnold" Tango by Gabriel Clausi

Gabriel "Chula" Clausi (Click to enlarge)

Atilio Stampone (born 1926, played with Calo, and with 1946 Piazzolla), Ernesto Baffa (born 1932, played with H. Stampone, Salgan and Troilo), Mariano Mores (born 1918, composer, director and pianist), looked stunning and performed as well as in the old times.

Whoever saw Leopoldo Federico walk with difficulty, would have never imagined he could wiggle with passion in his seat elevating the orquesta to new aesthetic highs (he is one of the greatest bandoneon players along with Troilo, Laurenz and Maffia. Played with Di Sarli, A. Stampone, Salgan, and Quinteto Piazzolla). Federico got one of the biggest ovations of the evening.

When Carlos Lazzari, bandoneonist of D’Arienzo, joined the Orquesta Tipica Café de los Maestros - directed by Osvaldo Requena - in “La cumparsita”; the director changed the style accelerating and giving a strong D’Arienzo beat to the music. Dancers appeared on the stage: an older couple who danced as people do at milongas, and a younger couple who danced a semi-open style with little connection. They came later for “Si sos brujo”, played with an arrangement Emilio Balcarce had made for Pugliese.

It was very emotional for me to see Virginia Luque who has always been the petite woman I watched as child in some of the 130 films she made as a movie star. Her voice last night was unmistakably Luque, with the same polenta (potency) and acting she had at the peak of her career. She gave us “La cancion de Buenos Aires” and “El patio de la morocha”.

Virginia Luque (click to enlarge)

Fernando Suarez Paz’s violin became the foreground of the orquesta for me; he was younger than most; (played in Piazzolla’s orquesta; Piazzolla composed “Escualo” for him. To watch Piazzolla and Suarez Paz in Escualo: VXV.com :: Astor Piazzolla Escualo en Holanda :: durmiendoeneltren. Suarez Paz gave us “Los Mareados”.

Fernando Suarez Paz (click to enlarge)

With one of the singers of Alfredo De Angelis, Juan Carlos Godoy we emoted as he sung “Anclao in Paris” and “La mariposa”.

Juan Carlos Godoy (click to enlarge)

The program closed with Marianito Mores, whose tangos and milongas we dance the world over today: “Gricel”, “Adios pampa mia”, “Cafetin de Buenos Aires”, “Uno”, and “Taquito militar”. He played the piano and directed the orquesta in “Uno” and “"Taquito Militar"

What a night! I will keep remembering Virginia Luque as she appears in youtube: YouTube - Adios VIRGINIA LUQUE

There were many white hairs, bald or semi-bald heads...yet, the spirit was unequivocally 40s. The size and sound of the orquesta was definitely 40s. I felt fortunate to have been part of the soul of an era for two hours. Walking along Corrientes after the show was nostalgic as well, for I pictured this avenue in the 40s, with one tango venue next to the other, and in each confiteria or restaurant I heard the sounds of terrific orquestas tipicas in my mind.

(Copyright (c) 2008 Beatriz Dujovne)

Posted by beatriz at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2008

Playlist 12/17/08

From Cowboy Monkey Wed. night tango dance.

Download playlist (pdf)


Posted by joegrohens at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2008

University of Illinois grad students win "Dance Your Ph.D."

Markita Landry and Florin Bora of the University of Illinois graduate school in Physics have won the popular choice category of the American Association for the Advancement of Science "Dance Your Ph.D. contest" with the tango-dance entry on the theme of Markita's thesis research ("Single Molecule Measurements of Protelomerase TelK-DNA Complexes").


  • Read article: The News-Gazette.com: UI grad students interpret research through dance

  • See the winning entries: 2009 AAAS/Science Dance Contest Winners

    Posted by beatriz at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

    December 09, 2008

    Susana Rinaldi: Live Performance on Sunday October 26


    Letter from Buenos Aires
    by Beatriz Dujovne

    Today porteños attend events celebrating the day of Buenos Aires’ historic cafes. I am at Café Homero Manzi, where dark lustrous wooden walls are covered with photos of tango personalities during the golden era (1935-1950). This is the venue where the poet Manzi gave birth to the nostalgic lyrics of tango “Sur."

    Cafe HomeroManzi.P1010373.jpg

    Cafe Homero Manzi

    The day woke up grayishly and drizzingly tanguero. At 11 AM, at the corner of San Juan y Boedo, the thirty musicians (12 strings and three bandoneons) of the Orquesta de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires open the outdoor show. They give us Piazzolla’s Libertango, and two other pieces with lyrics by Ferrer and music by Garello (who is conducting): “Buenos Aires es tu fiesta” (“Buenos Aires is your celebration”) and “Viva el tango."

    This is the luscious appetizer.


    The black stage, built for the occasion across Boedo Street, is ready for Susana Rinaldi’s big presence. We, about 500 people standing on the street, are impatient for the delay caused by light morning rain. We give her a warm ovation; the sun salutes her too as it begins to dissipate the gray skies. I quickly position myself just two yards in front of her.

    She opens the festivity with the tango “Sur." Like many other tangos, the crowd knows this poetry by heart and sings with her when she turns the microphone towards us.

    “Old San Juan and Boedo…..”

    We tremble.

    We shout. “Vamos tana” (Go Tana – Tana means Italian-).


    She seems quite emotional and yet contained in her rather conservative day time attire. Up to this moment, in my mind, she has been a tall priestess dressed in a long white gown with snow-white short hair, the way she appeared on the stage of the opera house three years ago at a performance I attended.

    She proceeds to sing “Maria” a capella. The music soon joins her voice. Rinaldi’s whole body sings Catulo Castillo’s poetry. How harmonious are the music, her singing and her emotions. She places her hands on her abdomen, her core, as if being in excruciating pain.

    When the next song begins her right arm extends forward with an accusatory index finger while her other hand holds her forehead. Ah…”Uno” by Discepolo. She sings the tragedy and anger of its poetry with full force but without exaggeration.

    Si yo tuviera el corazon,
    el corazon que di...

    If I had the heart…
    the heart I gave away...

    Shouting: “Te quiero Susana, te quiero”

    We get quiet as we hear the first chords of “El ultimo cafe." Rinaldi closes her eyes. Her body is more collected. No arm movements, only facial expressions. The instrument of her voice follows the nostalgic mood of Manzi’s poetry.

    Recuerdo tu desdén,
    te evoco sin razón,
    te escucho sin que estés:
    "Lo nuestro terminó",
    dijiste en un adiós
    de azúcar y de hiel...

    (The poet remembers his lover’s derisive departure, he realizes that evoking her is senseless, he hears her bittersweet good bye: “what happened between us is over”)

    Two more by Catulo Castillo are the dessert: “Desencuentro” (“Dis-encounter”) and “Y a mi que” (“Who cares?”). This will be her last song, she announces.

    Protest: “No Tana. No, no te vayas (Don’t leave Tana. No. No)."

    Rinaldi says she is too old to keep on singing; she calms us down and invites us to listen to the tango’s fabulous verses; we join in singing the verse “Y a mi que."

    The show is over. The crowd disbands slowly. I run to the back of the stage to catch her. People want autographs. I just want to touch her; I extend my hand and she shakes it. With the feeling of the small, warm and a bit tremulous hand of the tall priestess in white…

    I head towards the next café…

    (Copyright (c) 2008 Beatriz Dujovne).

    Posted by beatriz at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

    December 06, 2008

    Piazzolla-Jazz concert

    Letter from Buenos Aires, December 5, 2008 By Beatriz Dujovne

    Laura Escalada accepting plaque of honor from Mario Parmisiano
    for her work as president of the Astor Piazzolla foundation.

    After ten years touring the world with USA guitarist Al Di Meola, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, John Patitucci, Steve Gadd, and Orquesta sinfonica de Moscu, Argentine pianist, composer and arranger Mario Parmisiano returned to Buenos Aires. Last night he appeared in concert combining Piazzola’s tangos and improvisational jazz. Piano, electric bass, bandoneon, and drums, were at times joined by eight strings from the opera house, the Teatro Colon. A DVD was made during this performance at the Metropolitan Teatro in Corrientes Avenue.

    Jazz fans clapped enthusiastically and talked with Mario loudly from their seats. Tango fans like me could not hear the arrangement of “Soledad” without comparing it to the gripping, romantic original played by Astor himself.

    Laura Escalada, actress and Astor Piazzolla’s second wife, was in attendance. When she was called to the stage to receive a plaque of honor, she mentioned how much Astor loved jazz, and, (tongue in cheek) asked Mario why he had disarranged her husband’s music. Her seat was in front of mine. Quite moved by her close presence, I watched her head in constant motion to the beat of jazz music. After Astor’s death, she became the main force to spread his cultural heritage in her capacity of President of the Foundation Astor Piazzolla.

    Posted by beatriz at 07:06 PM | Comments (0)