This is a book of stories.
I loved tango music from the first moment I heard it. As I slowly learnt how to listen to it, I came to deeply appreciate the musicians who created it.
At the beginning there were no arrangements. The music was played a la parilla,
on the grill – two or three musicians improvising their own parts from music which, if it was written down at all, consisted of melody and bass lines.
As the music became more sophisticated it retained this personal stamp. All the bands had arrangers, but they wrote their arrangements around the individual musicians who were going to perform them. Even more than the arrangers, it was the musicians themselves who drove the development of the musical form.
So when you hear Troilo’s pianist go crazy, that is not just any pianist, that is Orlando Goñi. That bandoneón variation from Pugliese is the work of Osvaldo Ruggiero, and no-one else, whilst the agitated, unpredictable piano in the D’Arienzo orchestra can only be Rodolfo Biagi. All of this is not to mention the unmistakeable piano of Pugliese himself, or of Carlos Di Sarli, or the bandoneón of Troilo. All of them imprinted their unique stamp on the music they created, and were irreplaceable. This is art, when you can recognise a musician from just a few notes.
These musicians are personalities with their own stories and history, and the tangos they performed have their stories too. Accordingly this is a book of stories. They are not my stories; they are our stories, and I pass them on to you in the hope that they will help you open your ears to this incredible music. From the ear to the heart, and from the heart to the feet.
So much of what is called dance music in the Western world today isn’t dance music in the former sense of the phrase. Sure, there is plenty of music created as a backdrop to dance, but when we say dance music we mean something else: music that has co-evolved with the dance that it is designed for, the two strands interlocked like DNA. By the same token, we no longer know how to listen to music in the way people once did. Listen with your bodies, listen with your feet, listen with your heart. Listen with every cell of your body. Listen with your spirit.
I hope this book will help you on this journey.
Istanbul, New Year’s Eve, 2011