Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Horacio Salgán (1916 - 2016)

Horacio Salgán (photo by Silvina Frydlewsky for The Washington Post)
Today the sad news of the passing of Horacio Salgán on August 19 reached me. Horacio Adolfo Salgán (June 15, 1916 – August 19, 2016) was an Argentine tango pianist, composer and band leader from Buenos Aires. Some of Salgán's most well-known compositions include Del 1 al 5 (Días de pago) (1944), Don Agustín Bardi (1947), Entre tango y tango (1953), Grillito, La llamo silbando, Cortada de San Ignacio, and A fuego lento. - Salgán began studying piano at age six. At age 18 he joined the cast of Radio Belgrano as a soloist and back-up musician. At 20 he was discovered by orchestra leader Roberto Firpo, who hired Salgán for his orchestra. In late 1942 he made his first recording, and in 1944 he put together his own orchestra, which lasted until 1947. Salgán then devoted himself to composing and teaching and in 1950 returned with a new orchestra. 1960 saw the formation of the Quinteto Real, with Salgán on piano, Enrique Mario Francini on violin and Pedro Laurenz on bandoneón. The goal of the group was to create instrumental tangos designed for listening rather than dancing. In 1998 he appeared as himself in the Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Language Film Tango, no me dejes nunca as part of El Nuevo Quinteto Real, an incarnation of the original group. In 2005 Konex Foundation from Argentina granted him the Diamond Konex Award, one of the most prestigious awards in Argentina, as the most important personality in the Popular Music of his country in the last decade. (from Wikipedia profile).

A career profile in English by Adam Bernstein in Washington Post is available here 
An obituary in Spanish by Mauro Apicella in LA NACION can be reached here 

Oscar Alemán admired and was a friend of Horacio Salgán. Alemán composed a tango as a homage to Salgán, Al Gran Horacio Salgán which he recorded at his 1974 Redondel album En Todos Los Ritmos. I posted a short article about this issue earlier,  here 

To commemorate a great Argentine musician and personality, here is inserted a performance by Horacio Salgán and his orchestra of A Fuego Lento from the concert in 2005 when Salgán received the Diamond Konex Award

Horacio Adolfo Salgán (June 15, 1916 – August 19, 2016) RIP


Sunday, August 07, 2016

Casi negro - Choro by Oscar Alemán

Odeon 74288b
Oscar Alemán was well informed about various Brazilian music genres and recorded several examples of Brazilian tunes during his contract with Odeon and later. He composed and recorded three pieces in the genuine Brazilian choro style during his contract with Odeon, they are: Casi negro (Odeon, 7488b, B.A. Oct. 22, 1955), Casi bueno, Odeon 74292b, B.A. Nov. 20 or 22, 1955) and Dedos duros (Odeon, 74343a, B.A. June 17, 1957). Here I'll focus on the first mentioned, Casi negro, the audio of Odeon 7488b has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below

Alemán's version here of this choro is  recorded as a magnificent guitar solo only supported by bass and percussion, the two-part piece is played on amplified guitar and repeated a couple of times, but no improvisation is heard or intended. Alemán never tried to improvise on Brazilian tunes, he respected the original form of the music genre, thus later days' conception of Brazilian music as a vehicle for jazz improvisation (- think of jazz-samba or bossa nova) was not the issue in Alemán's case. The only difference from a typical choro as played by Brazilian musicians is Alemán's choice of the rhythmic pattern which gets close to a 2/4 samba beat at medium tempo and further the double time sequence at the end of part B of the piece. Maybe these small details were the personal 'signature' which were added to convince the Odeon management and the record buying public that Alemán's version of the choro style could be transferred and executed convicingly by a popular Argentinian artist without spoiling the traditional Brazilian conception of the choro as a music genre incorporating endless ideas and the impact from many different musical sources within a fixed pattern? A more significant difference, however, is that Alemán performs this choro on an electrified instrument, choro is traditionally performed by acoustic instruments, but Alemán's performance of the piece on amplified guitar adds an updated version of choro at the time of the recording, which probably should appeal to the night life and dance halls of Buenos Aires. - Alemán only recorded Casi negro once, but there exists a fragment of a home recording from the 1960s that has him performing the piece on acoustic guitar which is inserted below to show a more introspective version of the tune

Just recently I was thrilled to find out that an Argentinian choro ensemble named Mistura & Manda has recorded their version of Choro negro at the ensemble's latest CD titled Lloros. I wrote a review of the CD here, and to end this I'll insert this version of Choro negro by Mistura & Manda which has been uploaded at YouTube as an audio video together with other examples of the tunes at the CD devoted to Argentinian composers of choros