Archive for October, 2011

1910, October 30 – BIRTH OF JUAN CARLOS LA MADRID

Juan Carlos De La Madrid was Terry Malloy…in one of film history’s most famous scenes from the 1954 Academy Award winner “On The Waterfront”, Terry (Marlon Brando) says, “I could have had class, I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody”….in similar disarmingly frank, self-deprecating  language La Madrid would say about himself, “In my life, I have done all of the bad things you can imagine and in the end I am no one”…like Malloy, Juan Carlos was a boxer, a sparing partner for 3 pesos a round and a meal when he was lucky; when he wasn’t boxing he dabbled at dancing and singing tango…ten years later the celebrated Hector Maure would have a similar fate…Maure’s dreams of boxing glory were cruelly ended one evening when a left from no where sent him to the canvass for the 10 count and an injury that ended his career; he became a tango singer… La Madrid was part of Buenos Aires’ underbelly…he was a constant presence in the city’s cheap barrooms, its smoke-filled gambling dens where desperate, unshaved men crouched over roulette tables only to disappear just a few minutes later into oblivion…”Juanito” was liked by its assorted actors, the hoods, its loan sharks, the pimps, its fools and its street poets with whom he generously shared his spare change…he was proud of his ability to hold his whiskey…

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It was very much of a macho world and Juanito, a keen observer, wrote about it, “mine are men’s poems, from a man’s world”…he wrote in lunfardo, “the language of the people of the streets” he would say…his tango lyrics were real…the legendary Astor Piazzolla called him to write the lyrics for his “Fugitiva” which he recorded to great acclaim with the voice of Maria De La Fuente in 1952…Juan Carlos De La Madrid (Scorpio), was born in the neighborhood of Flores in Buenos Aires to a poor family…he had little formal education but he was curious and he loved to read….already as a child, he demonstrated the intensity and passion which would later characterize him as an adult…the roar of the sea was his palliative….to survive he tried many things including having been a journalist, a literature teacher, a book salesman, a radio and television program organizer and even a Shakespearean actor…at the certain point he began to lose his eyes sight and became immensely depressed…contemplating suicide, he recalled one of his favorite lines from Hamlet: “o, that this too solid  flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itslef into dew…how weary stale flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world”…but his indomitable spirit jolted him to continue on, “I realized that I loved living like an actor who must go on with his assigned role until the curtain comes down”….his two books of poems, “Hombre Sumado” (The Sum of Man) and “Pequena Rosa Lunfarda” are still traded among collectors

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1907, October 28 – BIRTH OF MIGUEL CALO

Growing up in a poor family of 16 children, intense and sensitive Miguel, the eldest, was nevertheless a determined child; he learned soon enough to fight and to overcome…this along with rare musical gifts would one day make him a legend but his hard early years would also help make him a compassionate and generous person and when he finally passed away at the age of 65 from a massive heart attack, he was eulogized by his grateful musicians and his adoring wife and children…his parent were immigrants from Puglia, in South Italy…Puglia was originally part of the ancient Greek Empire and in fact the name “Calò” comes from the Greek word “kalos” which means “beautiful”…Miguel attended only elementary school dropping out to work as a delivery boy to help the family finances…however, what Miguel and his six brothers (10 of the children were girls) had inherited from their father and grandfather back in Puglia was musical talent…Miguel (Scorpio) bought his first musical instrument, an old violin, with his meager savings; later an uncle gave him a bandoneon to which he devoted himself with passion…in his neighborhood of Balvanera, in Buenos Aires, a local musician encouraged the shy Miguel to play in public…

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Miguel invited a pianist friend to join him in an audition at the Independence Cinema in their neighborhood…the owner of the cinema was delighted at the enthusiastic applause of the public and gave Miguel an 18 month contract at 250 pesos a month which for the times was a huge sum of money…Miguel promptly gave the money to his father to help the famly…at the age of 20 Miguel Calò was hired by the Francisco Pracanico Orchestra whose singer was a young Azucena Maizani…the year after that he joined the Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestra with which he toured the United States…still in his early 20s he formed his first orchestra; it was the beginning of a glorious career of uninterrupted accomplishments…his first recording “Milonga Portena” was a tango of his own composition…other personal compositions were “Jamas Retorneras” and “Que Te Importa Que Te Llore” which were both great hits for his most representative singer Raul Beron...many great musicians and singers would pass through his ranks including Osmar Maderna, Osvaldo Pugliese, Enrique Francini, Roberto Ruffino, Carlos Roldan, Jorge Ortiz and Raul Iriarte…his was fond of saying to his musicians as he selflessly encouraged them to strike out on their own, “everything in life is a cycle….when one ends, another begins”

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2000, October 27 – PREMIERE OF “MALENA”

It was the film “Malena” that launched Monica Bellucci into the sultry, alluring, international sex star..she is a pheromone in the film effusing eroticism, sensuality, femininity and danger…one reviewer said that only Italy manages to produce women who are at the same time beautiful, sensual, intelligent and real…presumably, that somehow manage to not believe their own publicity; Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale come to mind…in one interview when Monica is asked about dealing with ageing when she is routinely described as one of movie history’s great beauties she said; “those are things that others say, not me, inside I am just a woman like all other women”…perhaps more than anything it was the scene in “Malena” in which Bellucci, alone in her house, in a suffused, surreal light, nude from the waist up, squeezes a lemon over her torso and rubs the lemon juice over her breasts that chiseled her image into the world’s libido…there is of course, a tango scene albeit a somewhat comic one…

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She and her lawyer Centorbi dance a tango in Malena’s house after he has managed to acquit her in a trial where she is accused of adultry…he chases her into her bedroom in lieu for his extravagant fees which she cannot pay and forcibly has sex with  her…Malena later turns to prostitution to survive; Bellucci also plays the prostitute Mary Madalene in “The Passion of Christ” and the prostitute Sylvia in “Brotherhood of the Wolf”…in an interview she said, “perhaps all women have a secret wish to be a prostitute if only just once”…the legendary Tita Merello was one of the few women who admitted to having once worked as a prostitute to survive…”Malena” has been called a cross between “Nuovo Cine Paradiso” and Fellini’s “Amarcord”; the common theme is the adolescent whose nascent sexuality is inflamed by an older woman…both “Nuovo Cine Paradiso” and Malena were directed by Sicilian director Giuseppe Tornatore; who won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1989 …”Malena” was nominated for “Best Musical Score” which was composed by the renown Ennio Morricone

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1962, October 25 – JUAN CARLOS GODY RECORDS “HASTA CALLAO NO MAS”

Besides being one of the first women tango singers, Azucena Maizani was an accomplished composer…among her most popular compositions was the milonga “Hasto Callao No Mas” which was recorded by a number of artists including Juan Carlos Godoy who recorded it on October 25, 1962…the inspiration for Azucena Maizani’s compositions came from the tragic tales in her own life…at the age of 26 she had finally found the love that her romantic heart pined for when she married Juan Scarpino and her joy multiplied when they had a baby…however, just three years later the baby died; the profound pain and recriminations destroyed their marriage and they divorced…ten years later she again found her ideal man and he became her manager…when a scandal erupted because of his financial misdealingings, he committed suicide and she became the subject of speculations and accusations in the media…the pain and shame drove her into seclusion for a number of years…Francisco Canaro would write in his memoirs of the evening at the Boite Pigalle Night Club when he was approached by a young girl would asked if she could sing a song with the orchestra..

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During intermission he took the unusual step of letting her sing one song; not knowing her name she introduced her as “azabache”…it was the beginning of Maizani’s career which would include over 270 recordings with a number of orchestras and a number of films including Moglia Barth’s “Tango” in which she sang one of her masterpieces “La Cancion de Buenos Aires”…by the mid 40s her popularity had waned and when she died of a stroke in 1970 she was practically alone, poor and forgotten…Juan Carlos Godoy was born in the city of Campana in the outskirts of Buenos Aires…at the age of 14 the family moves to the neighborhood La Boca…he got hooked on tango when he heard Agustin Magaldi sing live…as a young boy he worked as a farm hand at harvest time and  in the evening they would get together and sing; thus he got hooked on singing….working in the Ministry of Public Works he would forfeit his weekly salary to gambling debts…he was about to give up singing to devote himself to a “serious” job to provide  for his family…one evening he was invited to dinner at a friend’s house and he sang for the guests…among the guests was a violinist who told him that RicardoTanturi’s orchestra was looking for a singer… at the audition he sang “Griseta” and he was hired. His career has taken him all over the world.

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1934, October 24 – PREMIERE OF “IDOLOS DE LA RADIO”

Francisco Canaro had the midas touch, everything he touched turned to gold; he was undboutedly the richest man in tango…there was however, one exception, the movie business…in 1934 he and Jaime Yankelvich, the legendary entrepreneur who founded Radio Belgrano created the production company Rio De La  Plata Films…inspite of the fact that it was thrown together and filmed in an old warehouse, “Idolos De La Radio”, their first film, was a great success; it was however the only film to make money…the film allowed people to see for the first time, the voices they knew and loved from the radio programs they heard…the plot was inspired by the fact that the radio station milieu is in fact an intimate one where human drama in all its variety unfolds…it was the same idea that Peruvian writer Maria Vargas Llosa used in his celebrated novel “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” which was published in 1977

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In fact “Idolos De La Radio” was the first of its kind and featured the radio stars of the day including Ada Falcon, Ignacio Corsini, Tita Merello, Tito Lusiardo, Dorita Davis and Ernesto Fama…the film also feature the Don Dean and his “Students From Hollywood” orchestra who in that period had recorded the hit “Bailando En Alvear”…Don Dean was originally from Oklahoma and had arrived in Buenos Aires for a performance….he was scheduled to proceed to Brasil but a revolution there delayed his departure…it was in that period that he met the love of his life, married her and remained in Argentina for the rest of his life…the critics loved the dancing of Tito Lusiardo and in fact in launched his career…the film ends gloriously with Ada Falcon and Ignacio Corsini singing “Mentir En Amor Es Pecado” (to lie in love is a sin)…Falcon refused to record it outside of the film but it became instead a hit for Charlo a few months later

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1898, October 23 – BIRTH OF ROBERTO GOYHENECHE

Composer, Leader, Pianist (Libra) – tragically he died very young, at the age  of 27, from lung disease but in his brief life he composed some tango which have made his name eternal….born in Buenos Aires, already as a child a great career was whispered about, of this oddly precocious, intense student…not to be confused with the Roberto Goyeneche, “El Polaco”, who interestingly would record a great hit many years later with his namesake’s tango“Pompas”

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As a young boy, he began playing piano for silent films at the Cabildo Theater and in the small cafes in the outskirts of Buenos Aires…he began to be invited to play with prestigious orchestras like that of  Eduardo Arolas in important venues like the Cafe T.V.O., the Cafe Marconi and the Cafe Gambaudi….in 1922 he was invited to accompany  the Muino-Alippi Theater Companyon a tour of Spain…upon his return from Europe he put together his first orchestra which debuted at the Las Heras y Pueyrredon Plaza to great acclaim…about this time the first symptoms of his disease appeared and against  which he fought valiantly but his deteriorating condition embittered him and he became difficult to work with…sadly he was to lose the fight and he succumbed finally in the city of Cordova…some of his tangos were recorded by names like Rosita Quiroga, Ignacio Corsini and Carlos Gardel who made an acclaimed recording of his “Pobre Vieja”

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch0J6B-WLao to hear Roberto Goyeneche sing his great hit “Pompas” written by his namesake Roberto Goyheneche (not the added letter “H” in the composer’s name)

1955, October 22 – NOEL COWARD SINGS TANGO “NINA”

Using words like “sex, “sluts” and plenty of  eyebrowed innuendo, Noel Coward gives us an incredibly racy number, the tango “Nina”, on a 1955 television program…”Nina”, written and composed by Coward is but one of hundreds of highly popular songs he composed…Noel Coward was one of the most interesting, creative, prolific, outlandish, provocative characters of the 20th century; he was also known for his kindness and generosity…interestingly, his trademark English diction and trilling of the “r” actually developed as a way of communicating with his mother who was deaf…besides songs, he wrote over 50 plays many of which continue to be part of theater repertoire today….in addition he published several volumes of poetry and short stories, one novel “Pomp and Circumstance” and a three-volume autobiography…he was also an accomplished actor and director…Coward had little formal education but he was a voracious reader…he attended dance academy and made his first appearance on stage at the age of eleven

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At the age of 20, he acted in the first play of his own composition, “I’ll Leave It To You”…one year later he produced his own play on Broadway, “The Young Idea”…three years later, he achieved his first major hit, “The Vortex” about a nymphomaniac socialite and her cocaine addicted son…it was extremely shocking for its day in its portrayal of upper class sexual promiscuity, drug use and hypocracy…he was born in Teddington, a suburb of London to a father who was a piano salesman and a mother who was the daughter of a navy captain…at 14 he became the protege and lover of painter Philip Streatfield who died  at the age of 37; Streatfield had also been the lover of Oscar Wilde…it was through Streatfield that Coward was able to become part of England’s influential upper class…during World War II he worked for the British secret service…”Cavalcade” a film based on one of his plays won the academy award for best picture in 1933….in 1969, shortly before his death he was knighted by the Queen of England…reportedly he practised non penetrative homosexuality…he fully enjoyed his extravagant life once saying, “I am determined to travel through life, first class”

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1957, October 21 – PREMIERE OF “AND GOD CREATED WOMAN”

Like Rodolfo Valentino, dancing tango turned Brigitte Bardot into a sex symbol and a legendary star; albeit a stylized tango in a caribbean style rythm…the memorable scene, in the film “And God Created Woman” in 1956 in which she dances wildly in a bar frequented by prostitutes, titillated male audiences and became one of the most provocative scenes in cinematic history…Bardot’s explosive sexuality turned her into an international sex symbol…Bardot had an affair with co-starr Jean Louis Trintignant even though she was married director Roger Vadim….it was Vadim who discovered her and through personal and directorial influcence created the legend “Brigitte Bardot”; she would later divorce him…she was to say many years later, “he taught me to be free and as a result I left him for another man”…Bardot would have a continuous flow of lovers and several marriages…it was in her marriage to actor Jacques Charrier that she had her only child of whom she said, “I was not ready to be a mother”…he was raised by his father

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Vadim had seen her by chance in Elle Magazine where she appeared as a then 15 year old model and began to  purse her….her father strenuously objected at one point threatening Vadim with a gun…Bardot would later say that it was the trauma from this incident, that would be the cause of her sucide attempts including the one where she slashes her wrists and takes a copious number of sleeping pills…she grew up in an observant catholic home; her father was an engineer and her mother had studied dancing and encouraged these interests in the young Bardot…in her early years Bardo dreamed of being a ballet dancer…at the age of 40 Bardot appeared in Playboy in a nude layout…Bob Dylan would dedicate to her, the first song he ever composed….in later years, besides being know for her animal rights campaign, she made headlines with her comments against homeless people, homosexuals and moslem immigration and influence in her country…the French philosopher and writer Simone De Beauvoir called her a “Locomotive of women’s history…the most liberated woman in post war France”

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1926, October 20 – BIRTH OF ADOLFO RIVAS

Toward the end of a long and fruitful life, the one memory which which Adolfo Rivas treasured above others was the day his mother called him in tears because she had just heard him sing on long distance Radio Belgrano from her small town of Perhuajo….Adolfo Rivas (Libra) was singing almost as soon as he was walking and his parents were very encouraging even though a small town has few opportunities for singers…in fact a teenage Adolfo, with a voice resembling the great Roman popular singer Claudio Villa, began singing for free in the local radio stations and began to develop a name for himself in local festivals….with much trepidation, still in his early 20s, he decided to try his luck in big and intimidating Buenos Aires…a Perhuajo fan introduced him to musician Edmundo Baya who had two brothers in the orchestra of Juan Sanchez Gorio who just happened to be looking for a second singer to support his primary singer Luis Mendoza…Adolfo auditioned for Gorio with “Mi Noche Triste” and “Remembranza”…

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In the middle of the audition Gorio said, “that’s enough, you start tomorrow”….Adolfo was stunned, “I nearly fainted” he said…neverthless, after one year a frustrated Adolfo left the orchestra feeling that first singer Luis Mendoza, fearing competition, conspired to limit his exposure and ascendancy…interestingly, it was the same Luis Mendoza, whom he would encounter by chance on the streets of Buenos Aires, who would tell him that Edgardo Donato was looking for a singer…helped by Mendoza’s personal recommendation, he auditioned with “Tu Piel De Jasmin” and was hired by Donato…he spent almost two happy years with Donato refining his talent while touring throughout the country…his reputation now established, he was recruited by Osmar Maderna with whom he made two recordings before Maderna’s fatal airplane accident…for the remainder of his career he joined a number of orchestras to great acclaim but eventually the telephone rang less and less and he ended him career as a traveling car parts salesman in which he also also found success and satisfaction

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1945, October 19 – OSCAR ALONSO RECORDS, “LA ABANDONE Y NO SABIA”

 The lyrics of  “La Abandonè Y No Sabia” are in effect a tango within a tango; a story within a story…a man narrates the lyrics of a tango which describe the pain of the love he lost and his hope to see her again someday…both the music and the lyrics were written by Jose Canet….Jose had fallen in love with the guitar at age 12 when he heard Ignacio Corsini sing on the radio…Piero Hugo Fontana, his friend and fishing partner, would grow up to become the renown singer Hugo Del Carril…Jose Canet  grew up in the neighborhood of La Paternal, Buenos Aires…at the age of 18 he had his first professional gig when he was asked to join the group that backed up singer Santiago Devin…he was then recruited for the Radio Stentor staff to back up Fernando Diaz and Dorita Davis…one evening, after a radio performance he happened to meet singer Alberto Gomez with whom he would tour throughout South America…it is on one of those tours that he composed his most famous tango “La Abandonè y No Sabia” in 1943 in Santigo Chile

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The legendary Troilo said of Oscar Alonso, “after Gardel, he was the best tango singer; of this there is no doubt”…born in the country side, his father was a herdsman who, interestingly was cited by name by Ricardo Guiraldes in his novel  ”Don Segundo Sombra”…when Oscar was 14 the father moved the family to Buenos Aires…two years later he had his first singing job at a  busy cafe where, a customer would recall years later, his first tango had been “La Ultima Copa”…In 1929, through a loyal customer, he got his first break when he was invited to sing at radio station “La Voz del Aire”…doors opened for him including a stint at the legendary Cafe Nacional where it is said that Gardel performing at a theater next door, upon hearing him sing, predicted a good future for the young man…his career however was to be uneven, there were periods when he would disappear; perhaps it was the ready glass of whiskey in hand…on a long tour of Latin America, he discovered aspecial love for Cuba about which, in his waining years, he loved to tell tales.

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