On the U.S. festival scene, Troilo, especially his mid-’40s repertoire, is not as popular as he is in Buenos Aires. I think this is because these recordings are both very lyrical and very complex musically; they are not as straightforward to dance to as D’Arienzo or even Di Sarli‘s recordings from the same period. Michael Lavocah explores Troilo’s inventiveness in great detail in his excellent book Tango Masters: Aníbal Troilo, for those who are interested.
My friend Mike McCarrel is one of few fellow Americans I know who enjoy Troilo’s recordings with Marino—and I have to admit, at first I wasn’t crazy about them. Of course, that was largely due to the fact that I didn’t have good quality versions (many of the most widely available CDs of Troilo with Marino have been terribly processed, and the sound quality is appallingly awful). I didn’t really begin to appreciate Marino until recently, when I purchased some shellac transfers of his sides with Troilo from TangoTunes.
These four tangos represent, to me, the height of ’40s emotional tangos: Troilo’s master arrangers (Astor Piazzolla himself wrote the arrangement for “Uno”) put together multilayered orchestrations that perfectly incorporate Marino’s delivery of words by three master lyricists (“Uno” is by Enrique Santos Discépolo; “Después” and “Torrente” by Homero Manzi; and “Cristal” by José María Contursi). The result is dense, rich, rewarding music.
For a more unorthodox yet still coherent tanda, you could remove any song except “Cristal” and end the tanda with the masterpiece “Gricel,” sung by Fiorentino. Another beautiful lyric by José María Contursi, “Gricel,” like “Cristal,” is part of a cycle of tangos that chronicle his passion for a woman he couldn’t have…the full real-life story and its surprising ending can be found in Lavocah’s book or on TodoTango.