Posts Tagged ‘Carlos Di Sarli’

An unforgettable night of tango

April 7, 2015

With 50+ years of experience, Oscar Hector knows how to organize special tango events that are worth attending.  I’ll travel an hour by bus to one of his events.

I arrived before 21 hs., and there was already a line formed at the door to enter.  The entrada was 70 pesos — the first time I paid that much.

I had my first glimpse of the remodeled salon of El Pial in Flores, and it’s more elegant than ever.


Large poster-sized photos of tango and folklore celebrities adorn the walls.  Here is Juan D’Arienzo and his orquesta tipica.


Alberto Castillo and his orquesta tipica.


And Roberto Goyeneche with Anibal Troilo.


This is a large poster-sized photo of the dance floor at El Pial before the remodeling.


I had the pleasure of sharing a table with milonguera Nilda Garcia, who began dancing tango at 13.  She was dancing all night with a friend.


Since it was A Night of Di Sarli, the first 90 minutes of music was exclusively Carlos Di Sarli recordings.  There was a time decades ago when the confiterias bailables featured the recordings of one orquesta.   Oscar Hector is the only organizer in Buenos Aires who continues the tradition.  He welcomed each couple as they arrived and brought them to their table — a perfect host.  When he spoke about the singers of Di Sarli’s orquesta, there was total silence in the salon.  He featured them with clips of their best recordings.  The dancers were there to honor El Señor del Tango.

The lower ceiling over the tables allows for recessed lighting.  The tile dance floor is the largest in the city.


Oh, no.  Could it be?  Yes, that’s Tonino dancing.  I hadn’t seen Antonio Pisano for years.  I haven’t called him on his birthday since he has a girlfriend at home.  He turned 84 on March 12.  He noticed I was filming, but he made a point of not acknowledging me.  Seeing Tonino dance again was another reason I was happy to be there.


I went mainly to hear Orquesta Gente de Tango, which has new blood with several younger musicians replacing the original ones who have finally retired from playing.


Orquesta Gente de Tango performed transcribed Di Sarli arrangements on stage for the audience of 300+.  Hector Morano sings with great passion.


Guillermo Durante plays the Di Sarli style. Unfortunately, he discovered too late that the piano wasn’t tuned.


Mary and Maru were the belles of the ball.


I patiently waited for one milonguero viejo to arrive.  Finally, one came.  Jorge Uzunian lives about three blocks from Salon El Pial.  We’ve danced at Lo de Celia and other milongas.  One tanda with him would have been enough for me for the night, but he didn’t stay around for long after calculating the shortage of potential dance partners.  I was ready with my dance shoes, but I didn’t dance.

All in all, it was a wonderful night of music.  I stayed until 2:30am and patiently waited one hour for the bus to take me home.  That’s the sacrifice I’ll make for a Night of Carlos Di Sarli.

7 years of Tango Chamuyo


The hands of Carlos Di Sarli

January 7, 2012

Carlos Di Sarli (January 7, 1903 – January 12, 1960) never permitted filming while he was playing the piano, so there is no visual record of his improvisations.  Troilo said he took his secrets to the grave.  Di Sarli was known as The Lord of Tango.

Guillermo Durante has performed the improvisations of Carlos Di Sarli for almost 30 years as director of Orquesta Tipica Gente de Tango.  I recorded him at the piano during a performance in Nuevo Salon La Argentina.

The artistry of Carlos Di Sarli

September 13, 2009

El Señor del Tango, as he was named, didn’t permit anyone to film him at the piano.  When someone approached, he stopped playing.  He died in 1960 at the age of 57 with his artistic secrets.

In 1981, a group of musicians decided to form an orquesta playing the Di Sarli style.  They became Gente de Tango.  They were faced with the daunting task of notating the complete scores of Di Sarli arrangements which never existed on paper.  All Di Sarli’s arrangements were created in daily rehearsals.  The scores had to be recreated by listening to the recordings.

I first met the amateur musicians of Gente de Tango in 2005 at a rehearsal in Villa Devoto.  I refer to them as amateurs because most of them pursued Guillermo Silvio Durantecareers in something other than music.  Like Carlos Di Sarli, Guillermo Durante directs the orquesta from the piano.  He is the master of the Di Sarli style.  It occurred to me recently that I should film Guillermo at the piano during a performance.

Gente de TangoOrquesta Tipica Gente de Tango performed at Nuevo Salón La Argentina, and I was there to record Guillermo’s hands at the piano.  The salón has a grand piano on stage, and I was able to film from the left side of the keyboard.  It was the first time I watched him as he played Porteño y Bailarin, El Amanacer, Verdemar, A la gran muñeca, and Milonguero viejo.  Guillermo couldn’t understand why I wanted to film him.  It didn’t take much imagination to feel as if I was watching Carlos Di Sarli himself at the piano while filming Guillermo.  It was moving to say the least. 

Guillermo Durante has already passed the age at which Di Sarli died.  He should be sharing his expertise with young pianists so that future generations of musicians will continue to recreate the Di Sarli style for dancing.  We always will have the recordings of Di Sarli, but a live performance is very special.

Mario Papasaba

March 16, 2009

March 16, 1940 —

mario-papasabaMario doesn’t exactly live around the corner from the milongas, so there is no doubt that when he makes the long trip by bus from Quilmes to Lo de Celia he is there to dance.  He and Pedro Sanchez used to share a corner table every Sunday at Lo de Celia.

My favorite table at Celia’s is in the second row next to the bar where I am close enough to ask Dany Borelli about the music.  One evening Mario passed by my table and said, “Troilo con Fiorentino.”  Ever since then I know that Mario will invite me for his favorite tanda–Pichuco con Fiore.  He always says before we dance, “listen carefully.”   

It has been several months since I danced with Mario in Lo de Celia, but I remember the night.  First we danced a tanda of Anibal Troilo.  Dany followed that tanda with tangos of Carlos Di Sarli.  I rarely dance two tandas in a row and never with the same partner.  This was an exception.  I looked in Mario’s direction, and he was looking back at me.  We then danced another wonderful tanda together.  I love dancing in his embrace.

Six months of the year Mario lives in Mar del Plata and the other six months he is in Quilmes.  He goes to dance in both places although Mar del Plata is a far cry from the milongas in downtown Buenos Aires.  In a few more weeks Mario will be returning to dance at Lo de Celia.

Carlos Di Sarli

January 6, 2009

January 7, 1903 — January 12, 1960

Carlos Di Sarli is called “Lord of Tango” for good reason.  He was a pianist, composer, and orchestra leader who left a rich legacy.

I used a cassette tape of Di Sarli recordings for my tango classes in Chicago, but it wasn’t until I heard more of his recordings in the milongas of Buenos Aires that I learned to appreciate the greatness of his artistry.  The deejay at my favorite milonga knows that I wait patiently for the Di Sarli tandas.  Dancing one tanda of Di Sarli with a milonguero is enough to satisfy me for the night.  The other day I danced a tanda of Di Sarli, ending with Junto a tu corazon (Hoy como ayer).  I love this tango so much that I had to buy the sheet music with lyrics

Di Sarli never allowed anyone to film him while he played piano with the orchestra nor did he notate his elaborate piano improvisations.   They were painstakingly transcribed from recordings.  Today is it possible to experience Di Sarli’s unique style at the piano as it is recreated by Guillermo Durante, pianist since 1982 with Orquesta Tipica Gente de Tango in Buenos Aires. 


photo from

Miguel Angel Balbi

November 28, 2008

miguel-angel-balbi2Nov. 29, 1937–

I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I hadn’t met Miguel on October 15, 1999, in Club Gricel where I was seated next to the milongueros’ table.  Miguel invited me to dance vals.  Although I had never seen him dance, I took a chance and accepted.  That was the beginning of our relationship and my milonga training.

As a young boy, Miguel Angel was exposed to tango in the conventillo where his family lived.  He learned tangos listening to family members sing and began dancing at 11 with his mother.  His uncle Carlos escorted him to his first dance at a downtown confiteria on his 14th birthday. 


Isabel Garcia y Miguel Angel

Miguel Angel met Isabel Nelida Garcia (“Chuni”) at Club Monte Carlo on Corrientes and Libertad where afternoon dances were attended by school teachers.  They married five years later in January 1962 and had two sons Nestor and Aldo. 

Miguel Angel has sung in Oscar Hector’s show “Milonguisimo” at Confiteria Ideal for several years.  During June/July 2002, he recorded a CD which I encouraged him to do.  When he sings “El Conventillo,” he is singing what he has lived.  Miguel Angel sings more than he dances these days now that his milonguero friends are no longer dancing regularly. 

His favorite orchestra is Carlos Di Sarli.  Miguel went to the cabaret Chantecler when Di Sarli celebrated twenty-five years with his orchestra.  When he hears a vals by Di Sarli, Miguel Angel is inspired to dance.  I had the pleasure of dancing every Saturday night with him at Club Bailable Juvenil on Corrientes during the year 2000 where I filmed the dancing.

Rodolfo Outeda

October 23, 2008

October 23, 1940 —

Rodolfo and I have had conversations on how tango is changing in the milongas of Buenos Aires.  I have danced with him on only one occasion at Lo de Celia.  I know when he will be dancing by the orchestra that is played.  He, like many other milongueros, wants to dance to Anibal Troilo and Carlos Di Sarli.  He dances simply and with feeling.  I know the strength of his embrace–that’s one characteristic that the milongueros have in common.  They never separate and hold a woman very close.  Rodolfo dances on Saturday night in Lo de Celia.

Gente de Tango

October 15, 2008
Alberto Demaria & Enrique Seone, founders of Orquesta Tipica Gente de Tango

Alberto Demaria & Enrique Seone, founders of Orquesta Tipica Gente de Tango

During 1981, a group of amateur musicians with a common passion for tango began practicing together. They formed to interpret the renowned style of Carlos Di Sarli and became the Orquesta Tipica Gente de Tango. On November 1, 1981, they made their debut on Channel 11 in Buenos Aires. They are the only orchestra in the world performing the repertoire of the Carlos Di Sarli orquesta, thanks to the dedication of Enrique Seone, one of two founding members. Great singers performed with Gente de Tango on special occasions: Jorge Duran, Roberto Florio, Roberto Rufino, Mario Pomar, Horacio Caseras and Amadeo Mandarino.
Enrique Seone was born July 26, 1933, in Buenos Aires and studied bandoneon. He was a professional music arranger since 1953 and perfected his knowledge of harmony with Sebastian Piana and orchestration with Ismael Spitalnik. He played with the orchestras of Roberto Chanel and Moro-Della Rocca (former musicians of Juan D’Arienzo). I once asked Enrique how the scores used by Gente de Tango came into being. He listened to the recordings and notated each individual part. One orchestration took more than 25 hours to transcribe. None of what Di Sarli played on the piano was ever printed. He conducted from the piano and played without a score. He was a genius who had the complete orchestrations in his head and his heart. Gente de Tango has Enrique to thank for painstakingly notating the orchestrations they have used for 27 years.

I received a phone call on Monday from one of the bandoneonists with Gente de Tango informing me that Enrique had died last week. When I met him three years ago, he was dealing with Parkinson’s, but continued to perform with the orchestra for 25 years. A few weeks ago, all the musicians gave Enrique a surprise visit at the hospital when he played his bandoneon for the last time.

I had the pleasure of hearing Gente de Tango for the first time in March 2000 when they performed during CITA. I attended their rehearsals three years ago in Villa Devoto because they had been hired to perform for the Miami tango festival in 2006. I regularly attended their performances in the milongas and got to know the musicians. The orchestra of Carlos Di Sarli is my favorite in the milongas, so it was always a joy to hear the Di Sarli style live. Guillermo Durante directs from the piano just as Carlos Di Sarli did. He masterfully recreates the style of “The Lord of the Tango.” 

The next performance of Gente de Tango will be Thursday, October 30 in Viejo Correo during the Campeonato Intercontinental de Tango.

Gente de Tango rehearsal