Archive for March, 2011

2010, March 31 – PREMIERE OF “THE TANGO SINGER”

“I am sorry to keep saying it, but I don’t love you any more Helena”…psychologists tell us that these are the most painful words that a human being can hear and yet this is exactly what Conrado tells Helena; he is in love with another woman…but Helena is madly in love with him and these simple words destroy her…the words come precisely at the moment that her singing career is about to take off and she has been offered a performance at a prestigious venue in Buenos Aires but she is unable to sing…she becomes a mere shell of her former self, she is hysterical, out of her mind, obsessive, she follows Conrado and telephones him incessantly and finally, the extreme pain leads her to cut herself with broken glass…not unlike the legendary Libertad Lamarque in real life, she hits bottom, loses everything…she finally moves to a small French seaside town where she finds work in a simple bakery confirming Khalil Gibran when he says of love’s pain “he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast”

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“And so I embarked on a long period of research to track down the tangos that not only touched me musically but would also carry, through their  poetry and their emotions and the message of  the film”, said Director Diego Martinez Vignati…perhaps that is why his film “The Tango Singer” is one of the very few films in history that manages to perfectly weave the art of film making with tango music and dancing…The film is punctuated by intense bursts of tango masterfully weaved into the fabric of the film and provide an insight into Helena, brilliantly portrayed by actress Eugenia Ramírez Miori…Vignatti was born 1971 in Bahia Blanca Argentina; the birth place of Carlos Disarli; in fact half of the “The Tango Singer” was filmed there; the other half in Belgium where Vignati has lived since 1997…he graduated from law school in Argentina but studied film at the prestigious INSAS in Brussels…the film features the renown vocalist Oscar Ferrari who passed away soon after making this film...one noted critic said of the film, “it manages to do what was only attempted by Sally Potter in “The Tango Lesson”, Carlos Saura in “Tango” and Robert Duval in Assassination Tango”.

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1920, March 30 – BIRTH OF RAUL BERON

Singer (Airies) – Raul Beron is considered by many as the best tango voice in history and yet in the eyes of cognoscenti, Jose his older brother, had the talent surpass his legendary brother but preferred the bohemian night life …but it wasn’t only these two brothers but the whole family that seemed particularly gifted…their sister Elba for example, would record several hits with the Anibal Troilo Orchestra….they  were the children of Adolfo Manuel Beron, a guitarist and composer who encouraged his children to play and sing; theirs was a household visited by Adolfo’s musician and artist friends….their first taste of stardom occurred when Adolfo organized his five children into “Los Portenitos” which began singing in the cafes of their home town of Zarate…Raul Beron was only ten years old when he formed a duo with his brother Jose; they debuted at the Kity Dance Cabaret in Montevideo  to great acclaim; they were soon singing on the prestigious Radio Belgrano…Raul came to the ear of Jose Razzano who became his mentor and in fact in time Raul developed a Gardelian, baritone style like his hero Carlos Gardel…

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His major break came when Miguel Calo asked him to join his orchestra; he was nineteen years old…his debut at the Club Dancing Singapur was met with to ecstatic applause…on April 29, 1942 he recorded “Al Compas del Corazon” a phenomenal hit; within a span of five months two other hits were to follow, “Lejos de Buenos Aires” and the milonga “Azabache”..the next year he appeared in his first film “Todo Un Hombre”  directed by Pierre Chenal who had narrowly escaped nazi occupied France to move to Argentina…Beron later had brief stints with the orchestras of Lucio Demare and Francini – Pontier with whom he recorded another hit “Remolino”…later he joined the revered Anibal Troilo Orchestra with which he would produce several popular recordings and sing in the film “Mi Noche Triste”…it is interesting to note that in his lifetime he was not as popular as singers like Fiorentino, Rufino and Marino and yet with the passing of time it is Raul Beron who aquires legendary status…..on June 28, 1982 he was scheduled sing at the “Cafe De Los Angelitos” but when his wife went into the bedroom to get him, she found him dead; like his brother Jose and his sister Elba he died relatively young of a heart attack

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1951, March 29 – OSMAR MADERNA’S LAST RECORDING

Saturday afternoon had finally arrived, it was a day he looked forward to all week, his flying day….Osmar Maderna had two loves in his life, music and flying his Eurosocpe 415 CD, a passion he shared with his contemporary Osvaldo Fresedo….the skies over Lomas de Zamora was especially limpid and his fellow pilots were exuberant…flying 200 meters in the air Osmar playfully oscillated the wings at an adjacent pilot as he had done many times before only this time his wing hit the wing of the adjacent plane causing it to lose lift, spiral and hit the ground in a fiery crash…Osmar Maderna, the “Chopin of Tango”, at the pinnacle of his career, was dead at the age of thirty-three years old; just one month earlier he had made his twentieth recording at the RCA Victor Studios…Osmar Maderna was the eighth child of a poor immigrant family in the village of Huajo, Argentina…his father who was a musician was his first piano teacher…from early on young Osmar demonstrated an unusual sensitivity and gift for music…his love of Chopin showed in his subtle, ethereal, romantic touch; at the age of thirteen he put together his first group calling it “Vitaphone”…

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At the age of 20  he arrived in Buenos Aires where he performed on the radio as a soloist playing classical music and some tango…the young prodigy began developing a name for himself; that year he was invited by Miguel Calo to join his orchestra…here he came in contact with three young would-be greats Enrique Franchini, Armando Pontier and Domingo Ferderico…in 1945 he started start his own orchestra and debuted at the mythical Marzotto Cafe later earning performances at Tango Bar and Radio Belgrano…one year later, he made his first recording, the beautiful instrumental “Chiquè” …some of his most beloved compositions include  “LLuvia de Estrellas” which shows his love of Chopin’s waltzes and nocturnes and “Concierto En La Luna” which reflects his love of flying but his biggest hit was the waltz “Pequena” with the voice of Hector de Rosas…it was such a massive hit that in the first few months alone there were more than 120 different renditions by different artists…he starred in the film “Al Compas de Tu Mentira” and is credited with having started “Tango Fantasia”

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2003, March 28 – PREMIERE “ASSASSINATION TANGO”

Tango has a power over the human soul like few things in existence…in “Assassination Tango” it changes a hired killer named “John” which is played by academy award winner Robert Duvall…”John” starts out as a hired cynical killer; when his client trys to tell him why they have ordered the hit on a despicable Argentinean general he essentially says, “Never mind, I don’t really care, I just want to do the job, get paid and get out of here”…but the general’s return to Argentina has been delayed and to pass the time he spends time with a beautiful dancer, “Manuela”, who introduces him to the fascinating world of tango…as he progressively gets into tango, it  begins to begins to change him…tango demonstrates similar transformative power in a another great film, “Scent of a Woman”, (1992) where in an explosive scene, a suicidal blind colonel played by Al Pacino, with a gun in hand, screams to his student assistant, “give me one reason not to”….the boy answers, “you dance tango better than anyone”…somehow this mysteriously snaps him out of his suicidal spiral and he begins the road to recovery…tango has even been found to be the best therapy for Parkinson’s patients

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Robert Duval fell in love with tango when he saw “Tango Argentino” on broadway around 1988…it became an obssessive hobby resulting in over thirty-eight trips to Argentina…in time he became an accomplished tango dancer; he once danced tango for President Clinton and guests at the White House…he had written the script  for Assassination Tango and essentially had left it in a drawer….Frances Ford Coppola, who had also been in the theater that fateful night to see Tango Argentino, urged Duvall to make the film and eventually Coppola produced it and financed it….In “Assassination Tango”, Robert Duvall writes, directs and acts; he stars with the alluring Luciana Pedraza who would become his wife ands is forty years younger than he…however, the critics were merciless, they slaughtered the film and it was a dismal failure at the box office…in its defense, it is entertaining and the tango dancing is  well staged; perhaps the best scene of all is the dance performed by Pablo Veron with Geraldine Riojas during the credits at the end of the film

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1901, March 27 – BIRTH OF ENRIQUE SANTOS DISCEPOLO

Poet, Composer (Aires) – the best doctors of Buenos Aires were mystified… they had no explanation for the strange infection that was slowly withering away the body of Enrique Santos Discepolo….the truth was that he was dying of a broken heart…he had become ostracized for being a Peronista by his friends and fellow artists….they refused to speak with him, he was hooted in theaters and whistled in restaurants, pranks to embarrass the staging of his plays were not uncommon; he went into a deep depression and lost his appetite….but from the very beginning of his career it was the injustice and suffering around him which were precisely the themes of his legendary tangos “Que Vachachè”,  “Yira, Yira”, “Calambache” which had made them popular all over the world…in his immensely popular radio commentary he said it all in his refrain, “I did not invent Juan Peron, he was born out of your corrupt governments, out of the misery of the poor whom you massacred, out of your cruelty and arrogance”…on 23 December 1951, at 11:20 pm the great poet and composer finally released the grip of the hand of his dear friend Osvaldo Miranda and died; he was fifty years old…

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Enrique Santos Discepolo was born in the neighborhood of “Once” in Buenos Aires to an immigrant father from Napoli who was an accomplished musician…nevertheless, both he and his wife died when Enrique was very young…he was left to the care of a rich, austere uncle who made him wear a tuxedo to dinner; in time a genius would emerge who not only wrote the lyrics to his tangos but the music as well, albeit with two fingers on the piano as he had no formal musical training…at the age of sixteen he began acting in his older brother’s plays…the first glimmer of greatness broke through in 1928 when Azucena Maizani sang his “Esta Noche Me Emborracho”…just days later it was popular all over the country; it soon caught on in Europe as well…this was also the year that he met Spanish singer Tania who would become his wife and life’s companion to the end of his days…his great masterpiece, “Cambalache” had the peculiar privilege of being banned by all military dictatorships after 1943…Carlos Gardel’s recording of his “Yira, Yira” in 1930 is considered one of the greatest events in tango history…his collaboration with composer Mariano Mores would produce the immortal “Uno” which has been called the national anthem of tango…

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1936, March 26 – PREMIERE OF FILM “CANILLITA”

Florencio Sanchez, eighteen years old, dreamt of marrying his sweetheart but his job as a journalist just barely provided enough to live on and when he went to see his sweetheart was embarrassed to put on, his one and only threadbare suit…watching the rascally, mischievous, bold newspaper boys jumping off and on the trams shouting the headlines to passengers and passersby, he was inspired to write a play; “Canillita” which referred to the long thin legs on which they scurried about…to his astonishment, when it was premiered on October 1, 1902, it was not only immensely popular but would capture the imagination of the world inspiring similar characters all over the world….Astor Piazzolla, for example, would play newspaper boy “Canillita” in Carlos Gardel’s film “El Dia Que Me Quieras”…instead the film “Canillita” premiering on March 26, 1936, is a musical comedy in which a young girl falls in love with a singer and elects to runaway with him rather than marrying a store keeper to whom she is promised…

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Directed by Lisandro De La Tea it stars singers Amanda Ledesma, Sabina Olmos and Principe Azul…it features Pedro Maffia and his orchestra playing the theme tango “Canillita” which was composed by Julio Cesar Sanders…Amanda Ledesma was a simple shop girl who loved to sing who reluctantly entered a singing contest and won which launched a long and glorious career…this was the first film for Sabina Olmos; thirty more would follow and she would marry legendary singer Charlo…however, years later, Charlo now dead and she penniless and all but forgotten, she would take her own life by jumping from a high story building…Principe Azul was a highly paid singer and the powerful star making machine of the United States had selected him as the new Carlos Gardel; in fact he was on his way to New York to sign a contract with NBC, when he was suddenly struck with a serious illness which swiftly took his life just two days short of his 34th birthday

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2003, March 25 – RELEASED “JUNGLE TANGO”

Leo Tolstoy’s short story “How Much Land Does A Man Need”, a story of a foolish Russian peasant’s, greed driven pact with the devil is part of Jamie Masefield’s unique internal voice and vision which braided with the influence of his musical hero Astor Piazzolla beget “Jungle Tango”…Jamie’s unique compositions reflect not only tango but traces of the milonga and candombe; musical forms which were part of tangos early african roots…one reviewer aptly described “Jungle Tango” when he said, “It is tango which really can appeal to the skate boarder and the sophisticated artist at the same time”...but there are other things which are part of  Jamie’s vision; his love of literature, his curiosity, and his devotion to making the world a better place…Jamie Masefield was born into a musical family; his grandfather, himself an experimenter with tango rhythms, was an upright bassist who played with, among others, the legendary Tommy Dorsey Band in the late 40s…his boyhood home was full of musicians rehearsing and through them he discovered the mandolin to which he devoted himself with passion…

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At the University of Vermont he began playing with student jazz groups and later he became a precocious member of jazz groups throughout the New England area…in 1993 he decided to donate one night a month to lead an impromptu group of musicians at “The Last Elm Cafe”, a non-profit coffee-house in Burlington Vermont…the concept of the sessions was that it would not be strictly jazz but that it would include whatever genre of music the musicians were inspired by…the monthly gigs became so popular that at a certain point Jamie decided to devote all his energy to them and out of it was born the “Jazz Mandolin Project” which has been invited to music festivals all over the world including the prestigious North Sea Jazz Festival in Den Haag Holland…in 1996 they released the first of several critically acclaimed albums including a brilliant, jazz based, modern-day adaptation of Tolstoy’s “How Much Land Does a Man Need”…..one noted critic said, “The Jazz Mandolin Project’s refreshing, exciting, mandolin-driven rhythms has expanded the reach of Jazz to new audiences”

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