Posts Tagged ‘ tango ’


“To surrender when you dance is a sign of trust and deep spiritual faith” says Jeannette Potts in her book “Tango Lessons of Life”…Jeannette turned her passion for tango into a series of seminars on how to live better through the lessons of dancing tango…she hugs her students and talks about the spirituality of the embrace…tango is the embrace and it gives us a feeling of power and yet vulnerability, “as when we fall in love” she says….ah! and she cautions of the women on female narcissism, “self indulgence and self obsession is an addiction and it destroys the dance”…she talks of giving and loving; “happiness is a by-product of helping others”…she uses the lessons of tango to help tired executives, to improve leadership, to be better parents, to reawaken femininity and to learn how to heal ourselves…but in her day job, Jeanette is a Urologist specializing in infectious diseases and chronic pain…


She studied fine arts in college and sold automobile parts internationally before deciding to enter medical school….but it was her beloved grandmother Lily in Mexico City, a lover of dance, who bedazzled her with dancing stories and encouraged her to dance…she studied salsa and cumbia and even did slam dance at an inner city punk bar…one day she discovered tango in Cleveland and it changed her life…she later perfected her tango in Mexico City and Buenos Aires…through her infectious enthusiasm, her human warmth, the gleam in her eyes and he natural elegance she began to share her observations and lessons of life through highly successful seminars which include a passionate tango dance demonstration…one student said, “it reminded me of all the great artists I have ever seen…you brought the meaning to light and brought it all together as a humble teacher”




The topic of “Race” is still a topic which awakens deep passions….Robert Farris Thompson’s, “The Art History of Love” in which he makes a strong argument for the African roots of tango, even precipitated a heated battle of critics over the subject…in startling acrimony, reviewer Anthony Howel says of Thompson’s book “this irrelevant and dishonest book…the author makes irresponsible claims and insists in implying that white folk stole tango from the blacks” a counteraccusation, reviewer Christopher Everett defends Thompson and in a point by point rebuttal…”Tango, The Art History of Tango” is in fact a thoughtful, well documented and well written book…the number of people of African descent in Argentina went from 34% in 1810 to 2% in 1887 and their disappearance is a subject of controversy and a source of racist humor among the residents of Buenos Aires…reportedly, when the great Josephine Baker visited Argentina in the 1950s, she asked the bi-racial minister of public health Ramon Carillo, “Where are the Negroes ?”, Carillo responded laughing, “there are only two, you and I”…nevertheless, Thompson, renown Yale Africanist and art historian, demonstrates how their presence can be clearly traced through the tango culture…


He asserts that the word “tango” comes from the Ki-Kongo word which means “moving in time to a beat”…he explores tango’s relationship to cakewalk, ragtime, cubanhabanera and even rossini’s opera and he observes that the custom of dancing tango while moving in a counter-clockwise direction may have been influenced by the African myth that moving in a counter-clockwise direction means long life…he mentions that renown dancer Juan Carlos Copes was taught by Afro-Argentine Carlos “El Negro” Anzuate…he cites renown Afro-Argentine tango greats like Celedonio Esteban Flores, the black poet of tango, Rosendo Mendizabal composer of the immortal “El Enterriano” and Oscar Aleman one of the greatest entertainers which Argentina has ever produced…one reviewer said of the book, “Thompson mines working class origins and its emotions of defiance, freedom, self-control, humor, love and redemtion”



The lyrics speak of two separated lovers reflecting with regret on dreams not realized even though they loved each other, “it was sadly predestined” the text says…the lyrics were written by poet Julio Camilloni who was born May 11, 1911 (Taurus) in Ancona Italy but moved with his parents to Buenos Aires when he was three years old …growing up in an impoverished home, he had a passion for books and poetry; he was eleven years old when he wrote his first line of verse…later as an adult he would be much-loved and respected by his contemporaries…it was on one of his customary night life outings that he would meet Antonio Blanco the violinist for the Alfredo Gobbi Orchestra…Blanco would  add music to his early poems including “Predestinata”; their best hit together was “La Ultima”…his tango “Hasta El Ultimo Tren” was awarded first prize at the Festival of Tango and Song in 1969; in second place was “Balada Para Un Loco” by poet Horacio Ferrer which would become a legendary hit in the hands of Roberto Goyeneche


“Predestinato” was recorded by Tito Landò with the Alfredo Gobbi orchestra…already as a child Tito demonstrated the strong will which would help him become an accomplished tango singer at a time of immense and talented competition…as a child he sang  at school events but he was restless and he quit school to work but his dream was to become a singer…at the age of fifteen he was already getting short singing gigs at celebrated venues like “Tango Bar” and “La Armonia”…in 1954 after a trying period as a soloist, he finally accepted an offer from Alfredo Gobbi to join his orchestra…he began developing a name with their appearances on Radio El Mundo…it is during this time that he was drafted into the navy and he continued singing with the orchestra but now in military uniform…he made his last recording in Colombia in 1975


1963, May 3 – GRAND OPENING OF, “CANO 14”

It was a courageous act for Attilo Stampone to open a club devoted exclusively to tango in 1963; tango had passed from fashion and although there was the exceptional artist like Julio Sosa who could still attracts crowds, most of its still living legends were barely subsisting and all but forgotten …but the passion for tango still smouldered in discreet corners and the great Anibal Troilo promised Attilo his whole-hearted support for the project; the addition of retired footballer Rinaldo Martino and actor Pedro Aleandro as investors assured that its doors would open…indeed Cano 14 was to succeed beyond it founders dreams becoming a legened and christened as a  “The Cathedral of Tango” by its faithfull fans…on its stage would appear the legends of tango like Anibal Troilo and Osvaldo Pugliese, singers Roberto Goyeneche, Edmundo Rivero, Roberto Rufino, dancers Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves to name just a few


The renown Enrique Francini would end his life on it august stage on August 27, 1978; while playing “Nostalgias” he suddenly had a massive heart attack and keeled over…but Cano 14 also launched careers; the celebrated Sexteto Tango made their debut here and was catapulted into a world-wide career spanning twenty years…recommended by Lucio Demare, in 1969 singer Ruben Juarez debuted here and went on to have an illustrious career…the legendary Hugo del Carril, almost at the end of his career, sang here in 1980 when a delirious public kept him on stage for almost an hour…a nineteen year old singer, Gustavo Nocetti debuted here and with a highly enthusiastic reception from Cano 14’s demanding public, launched a career which unfortunately was cut short when he died in a car accident at the age of forty three…Salvador Allende and Ella Fitzgeral were among its illustrious customers…it had a grand twenty-five year run before closing its door but its mythical status continued to grow and in 2010 it reopened again, at which its guest of honor was non other than Atilio Stampone



Carlos Gardel had many women in his life but his only true passion was horse racing and perhaps it is fitting that his composition “Por Una Cabeza”, about a man’s misfortune with women and horses, is one of the most instantly recognized melodies in the world…it has been featured in many films including “Schindler’s List” and “Scent of a Woman”…but horse racing was not kind to him, he lost alot of money in it and there were times when he was in serious financial difficulty inspite of the enormous sums he commanded…the one bright spot was his beloved horse “Lunatico”, which he bought for 2000 pesos and who, in thirty-six races, won 72, 450 pesos over a four-year career…for his first race on April 26, 1925, in a 1,200- meter distance, he finished third.…for most of his career he was ridden by the renown jockey Irineo Leguisamo who became a close of friend of Gardel’s…in fact Leguisamo inspired a tango called “Leguisamo Solo” which Gardel recorded in 1927 in Buenos Aires…


Gardel spent alot of his time thinking about horse racing; he would bet by proxy sending telegrams to Buenos Aires from Paris and New York…in a famous  episode in 1918, Gardel and Razzano were performing with the Roberto Firpo orchestra and the duo escaped in the middle of the night to travel all night by train to see a horse race to the immense ire of Firpo..not unlike that of the American West, the horse in Argentine culture was mythical; for the gaucho on the pampas, his horse was a symbol of his manhood and independance…horse racing had the mystique of macho and a man of means and consequently, often the theme of tangos; Gardel’s early recordings were full of references to horses…in a letter to Delfino, his administrator just a few days before his death, Gardel wrote in frustration, “…as for the horses, it’s ok to get rid of them…I have already done enough for them !”


1941, March 20 – Alfredo De Angelis Debuts, “CAFE MARZOTTO”

He had waited a long time to start his own orchestra…most would-be greats jumped into the treacherous waters of entrepreneurship much younger (and most failed) and yet from the moment of his debut at the mythical Cafe Marzotto he would see stellar success…he would be criticized as being a merry-go-round orchestra for like Juan D’arienzo, adopting the 2/4 beat, would make it eminently danceable and eminently successful…another thing that differentiated him from his competition was its stability, his core group of musicians would remain with him for his and their entire career…another unique thing about the Alfredo De Angelis orchestra was that it popularized the tango duet, premier among them, the one composed of Carlos Dante and Julio Martel…Alfredo De Angelis was born in the charming village of Androgue just outside of Buenos Aires; years later it would be the inspiration for one of  Jorge Luis Borges’s books of poetry….


From early age, young Alfredo demonstrated precociousness and at the age of nine began playing piano for silent movies at the Androgue Cinema…Alfredo impressed noted singer Juan Gilberti who gave him his first job as an accompanist…his first break came when he was invited to play with the renown Anselmo Aieta Orchestra…he developed a name for himself and invitations to play with other important orchestras followed…his orchestra was on the inaugural program of the legendary “Glostora Tango Club” and would perform there for 25 years…he would record 486 tangos with the Odeon Label between 1943 and 1977…the Cafe Marzotto mixed tango, football and horse races and made history…it gave its start to a young Attilo Stampone who played there in the 1930s; in 1946 a young and wavering Astor Piazzolla walked in to ask Attilo to join his group…it launched the career of Osmar Maderna, “the Chopin of tango” who would tragically die at the age of thirty-three in an airplane crash.



Leader, Composer, Pianist (Pisces) – sitting still in class for little Rudy was not easy; his soul was restless…his forays into the realm of day dreaming more often than not, brought him reprimand “Rudy, pay attention”…but lurking inside was a genius who would one day change the world of tango…in his brief three years with the Juan D’arienzo orchestra, his innovative beat on piano would help usher in “danceable tango”  and reinvigorate tango in the forties by appealing to young people…Rodolfo Biagi was born in the neighborhood of San Telmo, Buenos Aires to struggling Italian immigrants…he caused a family crisis when at the end of grammar school, young Rodolfo insisted on leaving school; his parent reluctantly agreed but they enrolled him in the conservatory of the newspaper “La Prensa” to study piano…being strong willed and independent, at the age of thirteen, without his parents’ consent he began playing in a silent film cinema


One evening the legendary Juan Maglio (Pacho) happened to be in the cinema and was stunned by the precocious teenager at piano; he eventually accepted him into his orchestra, he was only fifteen…a major break occurred when in 1930 Jose Razzano interceded him backstage to ask him to accompany Carlos Gardel on a series of recordings…on April 1, 1930 he found himself next to the legendary Carlos Gardel in the recording studio…soon after he worked with a number of orchestras and along the way composed his first tango “Indeferencia” with lyrics by Juan Carlos Thorry…Rodolfo was a frequent customer of the Cabaret Chantecler where the Juan D’arienzo played nightly…his pianist Lidio Fasoli was notoriously late and one evening D’arienzo could endure no more and on the spot asked Rodolfo to take over at piano: with D’arienzo he would record 71 tangos…in 1938 Biagi left to start his own orchestra which debuted on September 16, 1938 at the Cabaret Marabu…in its long run his orchestra would record some immortal hits like the waltz “Lagrimas Y Sonrisas” and the tango “Quiero Verte Una Vez Mas” with singer Jorge Ortiz



“He is the last of a dying breed and the first of a new one” is how one critic described Richard Grayson…he has been called a genius for his ability to improvise on the spot, in any melody, in any key, in any rhythm, in any style…it is said  J. S Bach was one of a very few musicians in history who had this ability…in fact, as Richard himself points out, in the Baroque and Renaissance period it was customary for classical musicians to learn to improvise; today that talent is most often associated with Jazz musicians…in fact tango dancing, which is strictly improvisational shares this tradition with them…Richard started studying piano when he was six years old and as a child he loved to just sit at the piano and improvise on the sounds that he was hearing and feeling…he was  a winner of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship which enabled him to study with renown masters in Europe…


He later received a Ph.D in composition from UCLA and taught until retirement, at the Occidental College in Los Angeles…he became legendary for his unusual concerts where audience members would challenge him on the spot to improvise on a suggested theme….out of his copious compositions perhaps his two most popular are “Mr. 528” and “Shoot the Piano Player”…Ride of the Valkyries occurs in the beginning of Act III of “Die Walkure”, the second of  Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle”….”Valkyries” has been used in many films starting with W. D. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 and more recently in 1979 in Francis Ford Coppola’s, “Apocalypse Now” in the horrifying scene of  helicopters attacking a Vietnam Village …according to Guy Sajer, a German tank officer in World War II, in his book “A Forgotten Soldier”, “Valkyries” was played on their short wave radios before attempting a breakthrough in the “Battle of Memel” on the eastern front



With tears running down her face, clasping her favorite embroidered apron she looked out the window to the orchard she had planted and whispered, “it is a miracle, thank you heavenly father”…Luciano would recall that day vividly many years later…his father had just received a letter from the landlord’s representative; he had passed away and, in an act of deathbed generosity, had cancelled the debt on the house…to the children who played on those 70 meters on which his father had personally constructed the house, it seemed like such a large place; with tremendous personal sacrifice, he had bought that property for twenty-three pesos a month…Luciano Leocata was the third of four children to poor immigrants from Sicily which had settle in the neighborhood of Almagro in Buenos Aires…one evening, when he was thirteen years old, from a distant neighbor’s house, he heard an odd, new sound that captivated him; he found out later it was the bandoneon…


He began taking lessons and he quickly exhausted his teachers’ ability to teach him…he began playing in the neighborhood cafes and bars for spare change…the news of the “kid” reached Juan Pedro Castillo who have him his first professional job; it was the beginning of a glorious career culminating in a 50 year collaboration with the Florindo Sassone Orchestra…it was in 1940, that the most important event of his life happened; he met a shy, unassuming Aida Emma Gagliardino, “I heard music like I had never heard before”, he would say…they married on January 16, time this event would produce two daughters, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren…Luciano composed some of the most beloved tangos in history…His “Volvemos A Querernos” which he presented on Radio El Mundo had the distinction of being a hit simultaneously on two different radio stations, played by two different orchestras and sung by two different singers…his “Y Todavia Te Quiero” to our very day is one of the most revered tangos played in milongas all over the world; there were many others…


1983, February 20 – “CHANY” DEAD AT 28

Luis Hernandez, an accomplished, self-made man, was stunned at his sense of powerlessness, his beloved Rossana was dying and he could do nothing about it…he had brought her to his country retreat away from everything where hopefully with his love and attention and prayer she might recover and yet inspite of it all, she was deteriorating…they were resigned to the inevitable but at least they could still get married, doctors assured them that there was time for that and so with great delight, they immersed themselves into the plans for that beautiful day ; but fate would deny them even this for on the evening on February 20, 1983 with him by her side, holding her hand, whispering of better things to come, she passed away…she was 28 years old…Rossana Ines Falasca “Chany” was born in Humbolt, Argentina on Aril 27, 1953 (Taurus) to Ado, a struggling  Italian immigrant tailor and Filomena Theler daughter of Swiss immigrants; she was the third of six children in a family full of music…


Her father was a singer and in the evenings he had his own little group which brought in a little extra money…already from a young age Rossana was different, sensitive, inquisitive, philosophical and in fact later she would be a student of Zen and a practitioner of yoga….when Rossana was ten years old, Ado noticed her singing spontaneously in perfect pitch and he was inspired to create a singing duo of  “Ado and Chany”…one day in a performance at the town of Rafaela, a producer from the show “Grandes Valores del Tango” heard Rossana sing and invited them to Buenos Aires…at her audition she sang one of the only two tangos she knew “Madreselva”; the response was electrifying and at the age of 16 she was offered a four-year contract…from there her career very quickly took off…in November of 1982 during a routine medical examination a malignant tumor was detected and she was immediately rushed to surgery; the prognosis however was not good…dealing with fear and pain, Rossana courageously continued her career completing tours of Latin America and the United States where she lived for a while…she was to star in three films…at her funeral one of  the legions of  her fans said, “I was only ten years old when I first heard you….you gave me the gift of so much tenderness and you shall always be in my heart”


  • CLICK HERE – to see “Chany” sing in her last performance “Soledad” where the lyrics say, “I refuse to hear that from, your sweet life, you have torn me out…my soul pleads hopelessly for the call that will never arrive”