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Derrick Del Pilar

Born and raised in Chicago, I came to the tango while studying at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires in 2006. In 2008 I earned my B.A. with majors in Creative Writing and Spanish & Portuguese from the University of Arizona, and in 2009 I earned an M.A. in Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. My specialty is the history & literature of early 20th century Argentina.
Derrick Del Pilar has written 43 posts for DDP's Favorite Tandas

Di Sarli: ’50s Vocals with Pomar & Florio

Tormenta, singer Mario Pomar (1954)
Derrotado, singer Roberto Florio (1956)
Soñemos, singer Roberto Florio (1957)
Tenía que suceder, singer Mario Pomar (1955)

Drama, drama, drama: this tanda of late Di Sarli vocals has plenty of it. This is music for late at night, for a time when the dancers’ energy has ebbed and you want to create an emotional peak. Di Sarli’s 1950s sound is already very slow and legato, and with singers Roberto Florio and Mario Pomar, the orchestra sounds especially languid.
The words are just as dramatic as the arrangements suggest.
“Tormenta,” like many lyrics by Enrique Santos Discépolo, is a lament about the state of the world (“Show me a single flower that has bloomed while striving to follow you, Lord, so that I need not hate a world which shuns me because I will not learn to steal…“).
“Derrotado” is a classic tango lamenting the bitter end of a love affair. (“Though you toyed with my heart, I still can’t forget about you…)
In “Soñemos,” the lightest of the tanda, the singer implores his lover to dream of their impossible affair (“I know that it’s impossible to follow you and adore you, that it’s a sin to love you and to give you my heart. But it doesn’t matter, darling, we can dream tonight, though tomorrow we will weep when we awaken…”).
To finish out the tanda, I’ve chosen a lesser known tango, “Tenía que suceder.” In this enigmatic song, a man refuses to show his palms to a gypsy fortuneteller because he has a dark secret to hide. Click the link to read the full translation on my other site, Poesía de gotán.

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D’Arienzo: ’40s Vocals with Laborde & Echagüe

Color cielo, singer Armando Laborde (1944)
Después, singer Alberto Echagüe (1944)
No nos veremos nunca más singer Alberto Echagüe (1944)
Yuyo brujo, singer Armando Laborde (1949)

The tracks recorded with Hector Mauré are probably the most popular D’Arienzo’s vocals from the 1940s, especially outside of Buenos Aires.
This tanda, featuring tracks by Alberto Echagüe and Armando Laborde (yup, I mixed singers yet again!), sounds quite distinct from the late ’30s and early ’40s vocal tracks. You can hear the transition to this sound in the more romantic tangos recorded with Mauré, especially “Amarras.”
One of the things I like about all these songs is that they have very good lyrics. You may notice that 3 out of 4 are also longer than the 1930’s vocals. The earlier songs all clock in right around 2:30, give or take. “Color cielo” is 3:01, “Después” is 2:59, and “No nos veremos nunca más” is the longest of the bunch, at 3:26.  “Yuyo brujo” is the shortest, clocking in at 2:33.
This tanda has a dark mood. “Color cielo” (Sky Blue) is a lament for a lover who has died. You can read the lyrics to “Después” by clicking through above to Poesía de gotán (careful readers and listeners will note that I also featured this song in the previous Troilo/Marino tanda—you can really hear the difference in the two orchestra leaders’ approaches by listening to them in succession). “No nos veremos nunca más” is as bleak as you’d expect from a song titled “We Will Never See Each Other Ever Again.” “Yuyo brujo” (Witch’s Brew) is probably the lightest of the bunch—which isn’t really saying much.

Troilo: Vocals with Alberto Marino

Uno (1943)
Después 
(1944)
Torrente 
(1944)
Cristal 
(1944)

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.

Di Sarli: Vocals with Jorge Durán

Tu íntimo secreto (1945)
Mañana no estarás (1946)
Que no sepan las estrellas (1945)
Tus labios me dirán (1945)

I am huge fan of Carlos Di Sarli—at one festival milonga I DJed, I played four different tandas of his music over six hours, more than any other orchestra. But I must admit…until recently, I wasn’t really a fan of his vocals with Jorge Durán. They seemed a bit too slow, and a bit overdramatic (especially compared to the recordings Di Sarli made with Alberto Podestá). Played too early in the evening, they might bring the energy down. But at the end of the night, they are perfect—they have a compelling, heartwrenching emotion that shines through even for those who don’t speak Spanish.

Troilo: More Lovely Fiorentino

Dear Fellow Tango Aficionados,
DJ Antti Suniala (Finland/Germany) has been kind enough to feature one of my tandas on his blog, Tanda of the Week.

Garúa (1943)
Sosiego en la noche (1943)
Cada vez que me recuerdes (1943)
Farol (1943)

To listen to the songs and read my comments on this tanda, please visit Antti’s site here.

Troilo: Valses

Temblando, singer Francisco Fiorentino (1944)
Palomita blancasingers Floreal Ruiz y Alberto Marino (1944)
Flor de linosinger Floreal Ruiz (1947)
Romance de barriosinger Floreal Ruiz (1947)

I most often play tandas of three valses, especially if the milonga is shorter. But sometimes, especially at festivals, I feel like the crowd really craves four. And for that special four-vals tanda, who better to play than el gordo Pichuco? All three of his great singers of the 1940s—Francisco Fiorentino, Alberto Marino, and Floreal Ruiz—make an appearance in this tanda.

Troilo: More Classic Vocals with Fiorentino

Pájaro ciego (1941)
Toda mi vida 
(1941)
No le digas que la quiero 
(1941)
Tinta roja 
(1941)

Troilo and Fiorentino are each titans of tango on their own, and together they form one of the most prolific and beloved orchestra-singer pairings of the 1940s. I’ve already posted another tanda of their tangos, but at the moment I love these just a little bit more.
The first song, “Pájaro ciego,” is a beautiful duet with singer Amadeo Mandarino.

D’Arienzo: Early Instrumental Valses

Pabellón de las rosas (1935)
Visión celeste (1936)
Corazón de artista (1936)
Valsecito criollo (1937)
[audio http://poesiadegotan.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/pabellc3b3n-de-las-rosas-visic3b3n-celeste-corazc3b3n-de-artista-valsecito-criollo.mp3]

In the late 1930s, D’Arienzo recorded many very fun instrumental valses. I could have chosen the classics, like “Amor y celos” and “Lágrimas y sonrisas,” but I’ve chosen to go with slightly more offbeat, though by no means, unknown selections. Enjoy!

D’Arienzo: Late ’30s Milongas with Echagüe

Milonga del corazón (1938)
Estampa de varón (1938)
La cicatriz (1939)

D’Arienzo recorded some wonderful milongas throughout his long career. I love these early vocal ones with Alberto Echagüe singing. Actually, “La cicatriz” is one of my favorite milongas of all time, and it took a long time and a lot of help from many different people for me to translate it. Click on the link to read the story and the translation of this wonderful milonga.

D’Arienzo: Romantic Tangos with Hector Mauré

Compadrón (1942)
Uno (1943)
Claudinette (1942)
Amarras (1944)

Although D’Arienzo is known as the “Rey del compás,” the king of the beat, he does have a softer side. These tangos with singer Hector Mauré are some of his classic melodic offerings. Happy Birthday Juan D’Arienzo!