Thursday, May 16, 2013

Al Gran Horacio Salgán

Oscar Alemán admired the pianist, composer, arranger and orchestra leader Horacio Salgán, the photo above was shot at an occasion when Oscar and Carmen Vallejos met Salgán at a social event, probably some time in the early 1950s. In the 1950s both men had contract with Radio Belgrano and may have met eachother there. Unfortunately, we have not found available information about the relationship between Alemán and Horacio Salgán - a story yet to be told, before it's too late. However, as mentioned, we know that Alemán admired Salgán and he documented his admiration in his late career by recording a solo guitar piece titled "Al Gran Horacio Salgán". The composition is a reworking and extension of the intro part of Alemán's signature tune, "Hombre Mio", played as a tango. The tune was recorded by Alemán on his 'En Todas Los Ritmos' album for Redondel, September 1974, this version has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below

Horacio Adolfo Salgán (b. June 15, 1916, in Buenos Aires) 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. 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, the Konex Foundation from Argentina granted him the Diamond Konex Award, one of the most prestigious awards im Argentina. 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. [Info excerpted from Wikipedia article].
From a career profile and a published interview with Salgán at the Todotango web we learn that Salgán has had a wide range of music interest and influence in his own work spanning from not just the tango tradition of Argentina, but also covering the classical European masters, jazz and Brazilian popular music. In fact, as mentioned in the interview, Salgán's first composition and recording was a Brazilian choro titled 'Choro en Fa Sostenido'. Recently, a Brazilian pianist, Marcelo Caldi, has uploaded his version of this great composition by Salgán at YouTube, inserted below

To give you and impression of Salgán's virtuosity as a pianist and improviser, here's a TV performance with Salgán together with guitarist Ubaldo De Lio exchanging spontaneous ideas while playing the tango 'La Cumparsita'

As mentioned in the Wikipedia article, Salgán formated the Quinteto Real to create instrumental tangos designed for listening rather than dancing. This ensemble still performs the works in this genre by Salgán, and a couple of years ago the group was filmed at a tango festival. Salgán himself is taking the stool at the piano, 94 years old and still in full vigeur - enjoy this recorded sequence uploaded at YouTube

To return to the intro of this blog, it would be great to have Salgán's version of the relationship with Alemán, perhaps a journalist in Argentina already had the idea? We would certainly like to know, if this story already has been told, perhaps some of our readers can inform about this issue? Both Alemán and Salgán are important contributors to the music culture of Argentina and each of them great personalities in their chosen idiom.