The Style of Anibal Troilo – Part 4


A new year and a new part of the style of the maestros. We’ve finally reached part 4 of Troilo! Today we’re going to listen to the 2nd incarnation of Troilo-Grela’s Quartet, the symphonic sound of Troilo throught the 60s and 70s and his own Quartet in the late 60s. As always, let’s keep our ears sharp and dive once more in a sea of recordings.

Check part 1, part 2 and part 3 if you haven’t already. I’m sure you’ll love them as much as I did working on them.

After a decade of switching between labels, Troilo came back to RCA Victor since 1961 and spent a decade to gift us with 14 LPs, the singers of this epoch were Roberto Goyeneche, Roberto Rufino, Nélly Vázquez and Tito Reyes.

The 60s and 70s were tough for tango. The public that consumed what was now called traditional tango were in their 40s-50s and there were less and less young people interested in the genre. Julio Sosa, the singer that reunited both young and old people died in a car accident in 1964. And Alfredo Gobbi died one year later.

The first was loved by the masses and the later loved by the musicians, so both deaths gave tango a harsh blow. While Troilo, D’Arienzo, Caldara, Fresedo and many others were going for a symphonic sound, Pugliese was one of the few who stayed true to his roots and kept his unique style present while improving the arranges of his repertoire.

The symphonic approach was rejected by the most traditionalist tango listeners, prefering a more traditional Héctor Varela and the most progressive artists like Leopoldo Federico, Baffa-Berlingieri, Reynaldo Nichele and the vanguardists Astor Piazzolla and Eduardo Rovira had some recognizion in the tango scene of the time, but people didn’t bought their records.

All this and the lack of new and nice singed tangos gave us a big corpus of instrumental recordings of very high musical quality, but most of them are unknown to a lot of people even today.
So, what happened to traditional orchestras like Fresedo, Troilo, Pugliese and the rest? They either had to record new tangos with poor lyrics or repeat old classics. This stagnant state affected all traditional orchestras until the death of their directors. Some of them also recorded “For export” albums, since they saw more profitable to sell tango records to an European than to an Argentine public.

Tango had a resurrection since the mid 90s in Argentina, some argue that it was only a gasp of air to a slowly dying genre, some say that we’re currently living under a time of total revisionism and the most optimistics say we’re entering a new Golden age. Only time and the market will say which of the three postures is right. But that’s a discussion for another time.

After Frondizi was removed from his position as a president and Guido took the chance and became the president of Argentina in 1962 and signing a contract that would turn him into the puppet of the military, his government ended in October of 1963, after months of internal conflicts between two sections of the military, the colorados and azules (Red and Blue) they called to held a democratic election with a once more proscripted Peronism. Arturo Illia won the presidential elections, still controlled by the military.

His first policy was to give a halt to the proscription of the Peronist party in elections, but when Peronists held various public acts during Illia’s presidency they were repressed by the police force. Meanwhile, Illia also decided to nullify the oil contracts signed by Frondizi some years before. This decision is highly debated even today.

While the more liberals said it was a bad step to break ends with USA, others said it was a policy to protect the resources of Argentina and to avoid being subjugated by imperialists. All the nullyfied contracts had economic compensations to both US oil companies and the local YPF, but some of the US oil companies didn’t wanted to give a compensation to Argentina’s oil company or give up their legal rights, so people were cited to give testimony about the issues. Some didn’t wanted to give testimony, and some uproars were registered.

Nonetheless, this ended up badly for Argentina, having to give a compensation of 200 million dollars to US companies. Between June and August of 1965, Illia promulgated three laws that were approved by a majority of both chambers (deputees and senators) that would improve the living conditions of many Argentine citizens: The law of a minimum, vital and mobile salary, the law of supplying and the law of medicaments.

These three laws, other policies such as the campaign against illiteracy, investing a bigger percentage of the GDP to education, alongisde a media campaign against Illia himself, the fact that he didn’t won in a legitimately democratic election, etc were the reasons for yet another coup d’etat the 28th of June of 1966 under the name of “Argentine Revolution”.

There’s not much to say about this period (1966-1973) There were 3 military groups, each one overthrown by the other: Onganía (1966-1970), Levingston (1970-1971) and Lanusse (1971-1973) The citizens loathed these dictators and guerilla groups were in the raise, fearing a clash between militars and armed citizens, the military held a fully democratic election with a non-proscipted Peronism and Héctor José Cámpora, canditate of the FREJULI (Peronist party and other allies) won the election and was named president the 25th of May of 1973, he freed the politic prisioners of the previous dictatorship and some weeks later, the massacre of Ezeiza took place: an ambush by right-wing Peronists against left-wing ones caused by internal conflicts caused by the ideological ambiguity of the party. Perón won the elections in 1974, but the social background was tense, and he died the 1st of July of 1974.

Her wife took the presidency, since she was the vicepresident at the moment of Perón’s death, but she was just the puppet of the military that would later strike with another coup d’etat, this time, with the support of civils and the church in 1976.

Troilo had some TV appearances in the late 60s and early 70s, at least that’s what we could find in the internet: with Miguel Ángel Manzi (C.1970?), part of a show in Caño 14 (1971) (Tango nightclub founded by Atilio Stampone, Vicente Fiasche and Rinaldo “Mamucho” Martino), reciting his “Nocturno a mi barrio” with the cast of a famous soap opera of that time (1972) and the concert that is now part of history: Aníbal Troilo in the Colón Theater (1972). To fix the sound of the Colón one, plug your headphones and unplug them half-way until you can listen to it in both sides.

We also know that his bohemian life-style slowly deteriorated his health in this period. This obliged him to left the bandoneón solos and arrangements to Ernesto Baffa and later to Raúl Garello (But the always present eraser was still used). We can also hear some groaning throught all his recordings since 1965. Nonetheless, we can still listen to him and only him playing the bandoneón in his 1969 album “Nocturno a mi barrio” (Re-issued in 2004 as “Toda mi vida”).

To those who’re most curious, here’s a rehearshal recording. from 1963. Besides this, there’s nothing more I can tell you about Troilo’s personal life. Maybe someday in the future I’ll come back to this blog entry and expand on this paragraph. Meanwhile, I hope this can suffice your expectations for now.

Now, enough history and more music! Let’s appreciate the talents of the orchestra in this last period:

Anibal Troilo

Even thought his participation in late recordings are scarce, we can still listen to some solos in “Madame Ivonne” and “Del barrio de las latas”. If you STILL want to listen to more Troilo, you can listen to Troilo’s Quartet album here. He also composed “Fechoría”, “Yo soy del 30” and “Milonguero triste”.

Ernesto Baffa

He composed some tangos in this period like “Más allá… bandoneón” and “Chumbicha” (alongisde Garello) and B. B. (Alongside Osvaldo Berlingieri).

Astor Piazzola

Piazzolla did some arranges for Troilo’s last period: “Patio mío”, “Mensaje”, “Mi viejo reloj” and the ones for his own works: “Lo que vendrá”, “Adiós Nonino” and “Verano Porteño”. Troilo shortened Verano porteño and Adiós Nonino to make them more appealing to traditional listeners. Piazzolla also recorded two bandoneón duos with Troilo “El motivo” and “Volver”.

Troilo’s strings act more as a whole section to create a full sound through all the recordings of this period. We can still listen to some string solis in “María”, “Pa’ que bailen los muchachos” and “Milonguero triste”, some bandoneón solis in “Nostálgico”  and “A mi no me hablen de tango” and finally a bandoneón soli followed by a string soli and closed with a piano solo by Berlingieri in “Quién lo habría de pensar”. There’s almost no use of yeites by the strings in this period. The only thing I could find is some chicharra in “Adiós Bardi”.

Raúl Garello

Garello made most of the arranges from 1968 until Troilo’s death in 1975. He was also the one who played the bandoneón solos in most recordings. Since we never knew which ones were played by Troilo, which by Baffa and which by Garello, we’ll atribute the ones post-1968 (after Baffa left Troilo’s orchestra) to Garello, and previous onces to Baffa. Besides being the arranger of Troilo in this period, he composed “Che Buenos Aires” and “Bandola triste”

Osvaldo Berlingieri

Berlingieri stayed in Troilo’s Orchestra until 1968, as some of you may already noticed, every pianist Troilo had had their personal style embedded to the style of Troilo himself. I think this is a characteristic only present in Troilo and in Caló to a certain extent. Other orchestras either had a pianist throught all their history (Pugliese, Di Sarli, D’Agostino) or you couldn’t notice a change (Gobbi, Tanturi). As we stated in part 3: Berlingieri was harshly critiqued by tango traditionalists because of his jazzy sound, even when we can clearly listen to his heavy uses of bordoneos in “Ventanita de arrabal”, “Golondrinas”, “Te llaman malevo”, etc. We can listen to some solos in “Melancólico” and “Nostálgico”. He composed “A mis viejos”.

José Colángelo

Colángelo always had a “happier” sound compared to the rest of Troilo’s pianists. We can certify that by listening to “Toda mi vida” the uses of glissandos, accentuated notes, a bit of swing. Quite a playful pianist for a tango orchestra. Nonetheless, he still used what every other pianists of Troilo used: Bordoneos. We can listen to some of them in “Naipe marcado” as well as a solo, and another solo in “La trampera”.

Julián Plaza

Julián Plaza never was part of Troilo’s orchestra, but Troilo recorded most of Plaza’s works: “Melancólico”, “Danzarín”, “Nocturna”, “Morena”, “Color tango”, “Milontango” “Payadora” and “Buenos Aires-Tokio”. All of them arranged by Plaza himself.

Tito Reyes

Reyes was a “Bar singer” as he liked to describe himself as. It is true that his style is more reminiscent to an informal singer in a bar or café, but Troilo made him shine in recordings like “Yo soy del 30”, “Los cosos de al lao”, “El último farol”, “Te llaman malevo” and “El conventillo”.

Roberto Rufino

He recorded “Que falta que me hacés”, “Mensaje”, “Desencuentro”, “María” and “Ninguna”. For Rufino, singing with Troilo at such a mature age was the icing on the cake after a long and successful career with other orchestras. After this period with Troilo, he would retain his voice until the passing of time deteriorated it, just like it did with Goyeneche’s.

Roberto Goyeneche

He stayed in Troilo’s orchestra until Troilo told him he needed to open his wings and be a solo singer. Goyeneche did so, but came back in 1971 to record an album with his dear friend once more. He was a prolific artist and with Troilo he did some of his most achieved recordings: “La última curda”, “Pa’ que bailen los muchachos”, “Sur”, “Barrio de tango” and “En esta tarde gris”. His voice slowly deteriorated since 1973 but he pulled it off until 1983. Anything after that is more recitative than sung.

And… that is all! Troilo’s style didn’t changed since 1972 to 1975, and there are close to none phonographic material from those last years. Our beloved Troilo would suffer a strong headache, fuzzy vision and in a matter of minutes, a stroke followed by various heart-attacks in the night of the 17th of May. His big and yet weary body couldn’t handle the stress, and he died the 18th of May of 1975. He couldn’t carry out on his plan to record a new LP honoring the works of Agustín Bardi, neither finish the unsuccessful season in the Odeón Theatre called “Simplemente Pichuco” that started almost a month and half prior to his death.

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