Archive for the ‘ Guitarist ’ Category

1902, May 10 – BIRTH OF JEVEL KATZ, “THE JEWISH GARDEL”

Singer, Poet, Comedian (Taurus) – lying in his hospital bed, weak and emaciated he was nevertheless jovial and continued  singing even parodying his own situation…Jevel Katz was in fact “the happiest of all jews”…unexpectedly, he finally passed away at the age of thirty-seven from post op infection…when news of his untimely demise spread, people were incredulous, how could someone who had brought so much joy be dead…at his funeral, the out pouring of love from 40,000 people was unexpected; it was surpassed only by the funeral of Carlos Gardel five years earlier; in fact posthumously Jevel became known as “the Jewish Gardel”…Jevel Katz was born in Vilna Lithuania to a struggling family…as a young boy he began working in a print shop where he was soon entertaining his fellow workers…at the age of twenty-seven he decided to follow his brother to Buenos Aires; just a few years later most of Vilna’s sizable and influential Jewish community would perish in Nazi death camps

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From the moment of Jevel’s arrival in Buenos Aires he fell in love with the city and the country and he decided he would pursue a career in show business….he developed a character, “a street singer”,  who, with spontaneity and grace, parodied everyday life…he was sometimes dressed in a tuxedo or as a gaucho or even as a woman…like Walter Yonsky, he was part of the Jewish theater tradition in Buenos Aires…he would take popular songs and sing them in a dialect of his own invention “castidish” which was a mixture of Yiddish and Spanish and lunfardo…he performed mainly in jewish neighborhoods but also on special programs on Radio Belgrano…he composed over 5oo songs in diverse genres including rancheras, tangos, and fox trots…he was self-taught in a number of musical instruments and used others which he had personally invented…he had signed a contract to perform in the United States, a dream come true…he entered the hospital to have a tonsils related type operation but in recovery he apparently suffered a post op infection resulting in a coma from which he never awoke

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1930, April 19 – CARLOS GARDEL RECORDS “VIEJO SMOKING”

The lyrics of “Viejo Smoking” are the musings of a man who remembers his mispent youth and he says that he doesn’t regret anything but he finds himself alone and without love…”Viejo Smoking” was composed by guitarist singer and composer Guillermo Barbieri whose father, also a guitarist was his first teacher…he began his professional career as a young man playing in a duo with Luciano Gardelli and one evening he was invited by Carlos Gardel to be part of his back up musicians…his first tango, “Los Ruisenores”, which he composed in 1921, was later recorded by the Roberto Firpo Orchestra…more half of his tangos were composed for Gardel with whom he would travel to Europe and South America…he perished with Gardel in 1934 in the fiery airplane crash in Medellin, Colombia…among his many composition is the immortal “Rosas de Otono”

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Celedonio Flores who wrote the lyrics for “Viejo Smoking” was of mixed African descent; he was born in the neighborhood of Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires…in his youth he led a wild, bohemian life among the clubs and bars of Buenos Aires…among his various vocations, he was also an aspiring boxer…it is in this atmosphere that he came into contact with life’s tragic stories which would be the themes of his tangos…in 1920 he happened to send a simple poem, “Ultima Ora” to a newspaper which to his surprise, published it and gave him five pesos for the trouble…that might have been the end of it had not Carlos Gardel seen it in the newspaper and from their collaboration created the tango “Margo”…”Viejo Smoking” inspired a short film by the same name which was directed by Eduardo Morera…it was one of fifteen short films which Gardel made all centered around one of his popular tangos …the film which critics have called the best for its sound quality and photography also featured singer Tita Merello and dancer Tito Luisardo…Viejo Smoking was also recorded successfully by Julio Sosa and Juan D’arienzo

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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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2008, March 21 – RELEASED, “MATTSSON’S TANGO”

One reviewer said of “Mattsson Tango”, “I’ll go out on a limp here and say this is the best work he has ever done”...it is indeed a great leap forward for Lars Eric Mattsson who is Finland’s number one hard rock guitarist  and whose specific genre, described as “neo/classic metal hard rock”, would seem far cry from the sophisticated world of tango…however, this is, in a sense, a return to his roots for Lars recalls nostalgically as a little boy, his grandfather listening to treasured recordings of the legendary Olavi Virta, the king of Finnish tango…tango in fact, from the year 1913 when the Finns first discovered it, became the national music of Finland….in its history, tango has had far-reaching influence on many cultural forms around the world;  this is certainly the first time to evolve into “classic metal tango”…For his Mattsson’s Tango he enlisted the help of stunning vocalist Adrienne Antal whom one producer described as “the best female vocalist I have ever heard”

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Lars was born in the Aland Islands, the Swedish speaking region of Finland…it was as a boy that he discovered the guitar and it became his passion; in time he developed not only an amazing technique but a style all his own which has won him a legion of fans all other world…later he also became an accomplished pianist…he was a young, starving guitarist, when he was discovered by producer Mike Varney who first exposed him to the world in an introductory article about him in his renowned “Guitar Player Magazine”, the voice of his Shrapnel Records Label…Lars’s first recording was a four song compilation in 1985 which was well received by the public; he soon after founded  a band called “Vision” which was especially popular with the Japanese public…from there his success skyrocketed leading to the formation of his own production company “Lion Music” which gradually evolved into a record label

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1889 March 18 – BIRTH OF HECTOR BLOMBERG

Poet, Writer, Journalist (Pisces) – he flung open the door, rushed in and started grabbing  a few clothes, “where are you going son” his mother asked worriedly,“to Norway” he responded…that afternoon while walking the waterfront, deep in thought, he had suddenly stopped in front of a massive ship and had been seized by an inexplicable urge, “the ship leaves at 12 noon” the sailor on guard had told him…Hector Blomberg was gone for two years during which he visited far away lands and exotic ports of call; he returned with a suitcase full of poems…at the age of seventeen he had received his first recognition, a gold medal for his poem “Ode To Spain”…in time he would become one of Argentina’s great men of letters leaving behind an extensive collection of poetry books, historical novels, plays, newspaper articles, children’s books and several immortal tangos…being fluent in German and English he even found time to translate noted writers in those languages

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He was born in the neighborhood of Montserrat in Buenos Aires; his mother, originally from Paraguay, was herself a writer and a translator…his father was an engineer and a descendant of a long line of Norwegian sailors from whom he fell heir to his passion for the sea and for travel…sometime in the late 1920s he was introduced to singer Ignacio Corsini with whom a lifelong friendship would flourish…in collaboration with guitarist Enrique Maciel they would author a waltz “La Pulpera de Santa Lucia” which was a great hit and would launch a renowned career for Corsini; the three would collaborate on a number of other successful tango like “El Adios de Gabino Ezeiza” and “La Que Morio en Paris”…”La Pulpera de Santa Lucia” was originally on of Hector’s historical novels which continues in circulation to our very day as a collector’s item at prices many times its original cost…the kind of person Hector was, revealed itself in 1920 in a poetry contest; when it came to his attention that he would be awarded first prize, he argued with the jury that the second place designee’s entry was better than his  and really deserving of first place and in fact the order of the awards was changed

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1885, March 8 – BIRTH OF JUAN DE DIOS FILIBERTO

Composer, Leader, Violinist, Guitarist, Harmonica (Pisces) – as a youth he was tormented, difficult, rebellious even a bully and finally he was practically thrown out of school and began working in a series of  menial jobs along the way becoming a fiery anarchist and strike organizer…one fateful evening while working at the famed Colon Theater as a mechanic’s assistant, he happened to see a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and he was stunned; it changed his life…although unrefined, course and practically illiterate,  with tremendous determination, he enrolled at the Pettizini – Sttianessi Conservatory to study music for the first time and gradually the musical genius that was prowling inside his soul began to emerge…later he earned a scholarship to the to study with Maestro Alberto Williams at the prestigious National Conservatory…his tango “Caminito”, composed in 1926, along with “La Cumparsita”, “Il Choclo” and “A Media Luz” would become one of the most universally beloved and recorded musical themes in history…

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He was born in the mythical neighborhood of La Boca, Buenos Aires to a mother who was a descendent of  native americans and a father who was Genoese…many years later he would nostalgically recall his first taste of tango as a six years old toddler at his uncles cafe “La Estrellita”…battling symptoms of tuberculosis, his friend and physician Jose Ingenieros, himself an impassioned political activist and philosopher, advised him to move to the city of Guaymallen; his stay here inspired his first tango, the first of his tangos with distinctly indigenous chords…in 1932 he formed his first orchestra which debuted at the mythical Cafe Tortoni…he dared to include unusual instruments like clarinets and flutes and nativist themes but the critizism that naturally followed was difficult for him to bear…however, it was the beginning of a long and productive  career…among his numerous compositions are great hits like “Quejas De Bandoneon”, “Malevaje”, “El Panuelito”; Carlos Gardel would record sixteen of his tangos…toward the end of his life, reflecting on his career he would say, “my music is many things but above all it is feeling…of course feeling is not enough for you have to know how to express it”

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1929, March 1 – GARDEL RECORDS “CRUZ DE PALO”

“On dark nights when the wind’s curious howl wraps itself among the willows…a strange light shines on a wooden cross and then returns to the pasture…on the day of the dead, a girl, head covered in a black scarf, with tearful, lifeless eyes, kneels at the tombstone and says, ‘see you soon’ but in fact she never returns”…this is the message of “Cruz de Palo” (Wooden Cross) written by legendary poet Enrique Cadicamo with music by Guillermo Barbieri…it was one of over 1300 in his prodigious career…he was born in the town of General Rodriguez just outside of Buenos Aires and as a little boy he was already curious about the world and he would write about what he saw and felt….he published several books of poetry “Canciones Tristes”, “The History of Tango In Paris” and “Under the Sign of the Tango”…he wrote several plays including “The Way Life Repays Us” and “The Romance of Vagabonds”…with Guillermo Barbieri he collaborated on number of works including “Anclao a Paris”, “Olvidao”, “La Novia Ausente”; Carlos Gardel was to record 20 of his poems…

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Among his great hits are “Madam Yvonne” (which was the last one Gardel would record in Argentina before his tragic death in 1934), “Los Mareados”, and “Muneca Brava”…he would direct three films and would travel alot in europe and New York…the music of “Cruz de Palo” is by Guillermo Barbieri who was one of Gardel’s guitarists and also a singer…..Although Barbieri had his first lessons from his father who was also a guitarist, he was basically self taught…he began his professional career at the age of sixteen with the Felix Rodriguez Trio…Barbieri first met Carlos Gardel and Jose Razzano in 1919, at a party to celebrate the victory of one of their race horses; he would remain with Gardel for fifteen years…Barbieri’s first tango to be recorded was “Los Ruisenores” in 1921 by the Roberto Firpo orchestra…among his most beloved compositions are “Viejo Smoking” and “Rosas de Otono”….he would perish with Gardel in Medellin, Colombia; interestingly, the only one to survive was another guitarist, Jose Maria Aguilar.

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1887, February 25 – BIRTH OF JOSE RAZZANO

Singer, Composer, Guitarist (Pisces) – at the end of negotiations with the renown Club Armenonville, Carlos Gardel boyishly leaned forward to hear the results from his partner Jose Razzano, “Well, what do we have he asked” rubbing his hands together, “Seventy pesos” answered Jose, “Per month?” asked Gardel happily, “No, per night” added Jose, “Well” said Gardel incredulously “for that sum, I’ll even wash the dishes”…besides being an extraordinary musician Jose Razzano was a keen business man and crack negotiator…the singing duo of Gardel – Razzano would be immensely successful locally and abroad; they toured  Uruguay, Brasil, Chile and Spain in whose capital Madrid, sang to packed audiences…they met at a singing contest at which an aspiring Gardel generously complimented Jose on his singing voice; it was that night that the idea of combining their talents first emerged…they debuted together at the celebrated Teatro Nacional in 1914 to great acclaim; their performance schedule became immensely busy

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Jose Razzano was born in Montevideo to a poor immigrant family…when he was two years old, his father’s died suddenly and his desperate mother moved the family to the neighborhood of Balvanera in Buenos Aires… from a very early age Jose demonstrated keen musical ability and with much sacrifice his mother enrolled him in guitar lessons…at age eight he was already performing for neighborhood audiences…in 1925 tragedy struck when he developed a problem with his throat and he had to give up singing…he then began to devote himself exclusively to managing Carlos Gardel’s career which often meant paying off Gardel’s considerable race horse gambling obligations…later would come a bitter separation from Gardel which gave rise to many malicious rumors nevertheless the legendary singer Charlo hired Jose as his manager…Joe would accompany Charlo on a toursof latin america and the United States

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1861, February 16 – BIRTH OF ANGEL VILLOLDO

Singer, Lyricist, Guitarist, Pianist, Violinist, Harmonica (Aquarius) – he was a fascinating man, a sort of Ernest Hemingway and Bob Dylan all in one…he was a prolific composer and lyricist having written some of the most beloved tangos in history….his immortal tango “El Choclo” was so ubiquitous that during World War I, German officers wishing to honor a visiting Argentinean dignitary mistakenly played El Choclo believing it to be the national anthem…it continues to our very day to be one of the most instantly recognized pieces of music in history and yet when it premiered at the exclusive “El Americano” restaurant in Buenos Aires, the leader of the orchestra had to disguise it by calling it “Danza Criolla” as the owner did not like tango music…Angel Villoldo was born into a destitute family in the neighborhood of Barracas…he quit school early to work and did many types of jobs including teamster, herdsman, topographer, writer and circus clown….

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But he heard music always in his mind and when he was guiding his team of horses through the mud or hostile elements he was composing in his head….he began acquiring fame performing his composition while accompanying himself with guitar and harmonica in the local cafes and bars; in 1889  he published “Cantos Criollos” a book of lyrics meant to be sung with guitar accompaniment….interestingly, he invented the apparatus which allows the playing of the harmonica while strumming the guitar which many years later would become the symbol of a young, tormented Bob Dylan…he wrote a sort of popular comics which were full of wit and sarcasm using the argot from the lowest rung of society…he devised a method of learning to play guitar using symbols called “Metodo America” which he published in 1917…his first tango hit “El Portenito”, was sung by Dorita Miramar in 1903 on the stage of the Parisien Varitè Show…for Gath and Chaves, he traveled to France to use state of the art recording equipment to record tangos and helped popularize tango in France; he wrote the lyrics for “La Morocha” which was the first beloved tango in Europe…and finally, he left as he came, poor, when he was run over by a tram at the age of 58

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1953, December 19 – BIRTH OF ALBERTO DE LOS SANTOS

The guitar is the symbolic instrument which unites both Argentina and Uruguay; it has been from the beginning, the primary instrument for both tango and folk music in Montevideo and Buenos Aire…it is with this in mind that Alberto De Los Santos, in 1991, founded the Cuarteto De Los Santos; which from its inception has included band members from both Argentina and Uruguay…its success has been phenomenal; it has gone on to conquer critics and audiences all over the world…one critic noted, “rarely in the history of the guitar, have guitars had such a spell binding effect on audiences…the elixar of  “Cuarteto De Los Santos” cuts across age, national and cultural differences”

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Alberto de los Santos was born in Montevideo, Uruguay to a father who was himself a musician and guitarist…from early on his father noticed the musical talent in young Alberto and he began teaching him…when other boys might be anxious to get on the football field or hang out with friends, Alberto was totally devoted to his guitar..his proficiency at a young age surprised even his father… at the age of 13 he was selected among several candidates to form part of a trio; his first professional job…at age 15 he became part of a renown duet called “America” which quickly attained notiriety…he was then invited to become part of the Carlos Paralta guitar ensemble which accompanied the legendary Roberto Goyeneche…he began to be requested in the  groups providing music for television stations in both Montevideo and Buenos Aires by noted maestros like Horacio Salgan…the repertori of Cuarteto De Los Santos has included instrumental versions of famous Argentinian and Uruguayan authors and composers such as A. Piazzolla, A. Zitarrosa, A. Bardi, E. Arolas, Alfonso y Zabala.

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