Archive for the ‘ Neighborhood ’ Category

1887, February 25 – BIRTH OF JOSE RAZZANO

Singer, Composer, Guitarist (Pisces) – at the end of negotiations with the renown Club ArmenonvilleCarlos 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 italian 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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1937, February 22 – ROBERTO RAY RECORDS “SOLLOZOS”

“A man deceived me” she says humiliated and destroyed…the lyrics of “Sollozos” tell of the pity a man feels for a girl he finds sobbing…he notices a locket round her neck with a man’s picture in it; tenderly he counsels her, “forget your past, if he shed no tears for you, shed no tears for him”…originally composed by Osvaldo Fresedo in 1922 with lyrics by his brother Emilio Fresedo, the word “Sollozos” means sobs,; it was a major hit for the mythical combination of Osvaldo Fresedo with singer Roberto Ray…it was first recorded by Rosita Quiroga in 1922 without making much of an impact…through the man’s empathy and concern, she is strengthened; she remembers her mother, she recovers her pride…he remembers nostalgically her pained lips and the smile she gave him…Emilio Fresedo’s lyrics were no small reason for the attainment of his brother’s legendary status; some of their hits together include, “El Once”, “Canto de Amor”, “Siempre Es Carnaval”

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Unlike the overwhelming majority of tango greats, the Fresedo brothers came from a rich aristocratic family and there were heated battles with their father who had envisioned much more austere careers for his sons…in fact Osvaldo Fresedo’s music appealed to that part of the upper class that dared to admit that they loved tango…he was so popular that he kept several orchestras going simultaneously and Osvaldo would go from club to club to appear with each group for a few minutes before making his presentation at another venue…Roberto Ray with his refined, sensitive style was perfect for the Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestra and in fact they would work together for 30 years…Roberto Ray was born on December 21, 1912 (Sagittarius) in the neighborhood of San Cristobal, Buenos Aires…he started with Osvaldo Fresedo in 1931 and together they would create tangos that have never been out of popularity; hits like the legendary “Vida Mia”, “Niebla de Riachuelo” and “Recuerdo de Bohemia”

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1954, February 21 – BIRTH OF RAIMUNDO ROSALES

Poet (Pisces) – from the second floor of the tenement house, young Raimundo was mersmerized by the magical scene of a serious young girl practising her tango steps in the dusty yard….the girl, Maria Nieves would grow up to be a world-famous dancer, he would grow up to be a renown poet and writer of the some of the most evocotive tangos in history…Raimundo Rosales grew up in that poor neighborhood of Saavedra in a house where four families shared one bathroom…already as a young boy he had a curious and inquisitive mind and he would write of the things he saw and the things that moved him…one day, by accident he happened to see the album “A Homero” by Susana Rinaldi, a compilation of the great Homero Manzi’s lyrics; it was a life changing experience…in 1985 he entered a lyrics contest organized by the Universidad de Belgrano and won; the celebrated Lalo de los Santos was commissioned to set his twelve poems to music…

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But the life of an aspiring writer is not easy and he has had to wear many hats…he was a maker of handicrafts selling his creations in neighborhood festivals; in the day time he wrote for the local weekly that circulated his neighborhood…his proud creation was a monthly music  magazine  “La Luna de Saavedra”; in his first issue he interviewed the legendary Roberto Goyeneche but with deep disappointment, after a ten-year run, he had to fold it…he then embarked on his metaphorical search for the holy grail in Spain but after six years he headed his soul’s voice and returned to his boyhood home in his beloved neighborhood of Saavedra…in 1997 his “Fantasma de Luna” earned him another victory in a contest sponsored by La Maga Magazine ….other awards and recognitions were to follow for his poems, many of which have been set to music….he has published three books of poems “Ciudad Malvon”, 1977, “A Pesar del Mar”, 1985, and “Todo Es Aqua”, 2004…he has taught a specialized course on the writing of lyrics at the Programa Cultural En Barrios.

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1886, February 17 – BIRTH OF GENARO ESPOSITO

Leader, Composer, Pianist, Bandoneonist (Aquarius) – Genaro was perched precariously on a step-ladder with nail and hammer in hand, concentrating on the hanging of a picture when his guest bellow uttered a phrase that almost made him fall, “would you like to help me organize a group to play in Paris”...little did he suspect what an epic saga his life was about to become…Paris was a dream that a boy born to struggling Neapolitan immigrant parents in the neighborhood of San TelmoBuenos Aires did not dare to have; and yet, here he was on a cruise ship heading toward Paris, the cultural capital of the world…but on the way tragedy struck, the violinist of the group, Victor Jachia, suddenly had a massive heart attack and died…Genaro Esposito was devastated but with typical “porteno” resolve he persevered and survived initially playing in Marseille for spare change…In time his “Orchestre Argentine Genaro Esposito” would become the toast of Paris performing in its most prestigious clubs, ”El Garron”, “Casino de Paris”, the “Coupole Dance Club” and later critically acclaimed European tours

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Genaro would be a big factor in making tango a boom in Paris and therefore the world…in 1934 at the height of success he fell in love with a beautiful young French girl, Jeanne Vent…she rewarded him with the birth of a boy “Claude” of whom Genaro was immensely proud but then tragedy struck for the second time, Jeanne died leaving him to the care of their 11 month old child…he was never quite the same again…on June 14, 1940 the unimaginable happened, the German army entered Paris…interestngly, as they entered they played the San Lorenzo march composed by Cayetano Silva in 1901…a pall descended upon the city….little by little Genaro had to sell everything he owned just to eat; what little money he could earn came from playing his bandoneon for drunken German soldiers on leave from the Russian front……he had an opportunity to return to Buenos Aires but he steadfastly refused, he was a loyal French citizen now and he would stand by her and by his beloved Paris…sadly, the end came on January 24, 1944 when he succumbed to complications from pneumonia; as per his deathbed request, he was buried next to his beloved Jeanne…just seven months later allied forces would liberate Paris…with “Le Marseillaise“ still reverberating in his soul, General Charles de Gaul, in his liberation speech proclaimed, “Paris, Paris!, Paris outraged!, Paris broken!, Paris Martyred! but Paris liberated!.

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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…year later Carlos Disarli would record one of its most successful versions in history…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 featured at the legenday Moulin Rouge…his “Cantar Eterno” was an early hit for the RazzanoGardel duo in 1917…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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1940, February 15 – ROBERTO RUFFINO RECORDS “ALMA MIA”

The lovelorn boy in “Alma Mia” says, “dear heart who are you dreaming of…I have come to disrupt your peace…but oh, don’t blame me, for you see I am a bard…whose only wish is to weave into your sweet dream, a porteno lyric inebriated with love” …this was a major hit for singer Roberto Ruffino; he was 18 years old and earning sums of money he had never dreamt of…in the late 50s, with the tango fashion now waining, he would begin a second simultaneous career as a pop singer under the alias “Bobby Terré” on Radio El Mundo and when he sang before its live audiences he would wear a mask and be billed as the “Masked Bobby Terre”…he was born January 6, 1922 in the mythical neighborhood of El Abasto, Buenos Aires…he began singing in the Cafe O’Rondeman, the same one that launched Carlos Gardel.

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His major break came in 1938 when Carlos Garay, the agent for Carlos Di Sarli, happened to hear Ruffino singing and liked what he heard; he recommended him to Di Sarli..his first recording with Di Sarli, “Corazon” with lyrics by Hector Marcò which he recorded on December 11, 1939 was a hit…he would record 46 tangos with Di Sarli…In 1944 he launched a solo career debuting on Radio Belgrano where he was backed by his own orchestra directed by the respected Atilo Bruni…he had brief stints with the  Francini-Pontier, Miguel Calo and Anibal Troilo orchestras…he was also an accomplished composer and lyricist of popular tangos like Sonemos which was recorded by Hugo Duval with the Rodolfo Biagi orchestra and “El Bazar de Los Jugetes” which was recorded by Alberto Podestà with the Miguel Calò orchestra.

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1885, February 14 – BIRTH OF “EL CACHFAZ”

Dancer (Aquarius) – his last words were“Carmencita, I will be waiting for you to drink half a glass of whiskey after the match”, he walked out and a few seconds later he dropped dead from a massive heart attack….starting as a dirt poor boy, El Cachafaz, was to become, in the eyes of many, the greatest tango dancer of his time…he attained fame and glory and earned and spent huge sums on a bohemian life…and yet he died penniless, his friends had to take up a collection to pay the 800 pesos for a simple funeral….reflecting on that day at the city of Mar de Plata at the club “El Rancho Grande”, his partner Carmencita Calderon, who would live to 100, would say, “he was actually pocked-marked and ugly but he was the greatest tango dancer and many women fell in love with him”…El Cachfaz had even  survived the mythical duel with El Pardo Santillan, another great dancer, which El Cachfaz had won and which just barely missed turning into a bloody knife fight as was the custom in those times for men to protect their honor

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Ovidio Jose Banquet “El Cachafaz” was born in Barracas al Sur but grew up in the legendary Abasto neighborhood in Buenos Aires…apparently he was quite mischievous as a boy and one day he took undue liberties with a girl and when the girl’s father complained, his father is said to have shouted, “mi hijo es un cachafaz” (“my son is a rascal”); the name would remain with him for the rest of his life…he began dancing as a young boy on the sidewalks to the organists who played for spare change…at the age of 19 he won an important dance contest at the El Parisien Club which had been organized by the prominent Baron de Marchis…it is de Marchi who would introduce him to the high society ladies who would help his career and pay him huge sums for private lessons…in 1919 he went to Paris to perform at the famous “Club Garron” with the Manuel Pizzaro orchestra but he missed his life in Buenos Aires especially the Cafe Corrientes to where he assiduously went everyday at six in the afternoon to drink with a tight group of friends including Carlos Gardel…he danced with the legendary Sofia Bozan in “Carnavales De Antano” in 1940…his life inspired composer Miguel Bucino to write “Bailarin Compadrito” in 1929…he danced with Carmencita Calderon in the renown film “Tango” in 1933

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