D’Arienzo Tanda – October 22, 2020

Tango tanda by Orquesta Tipica Juan D’Arienzo

1935 “Nuevo de Julio”
1936 “Don Juan”
1936 “El Flete”

This week’s featured tanda comprises three very popular songs by Juan D’Arienzo’s orquesta from the 1935 to 1936 years when Rodolfo Biagi was the pianist.
These recordings were made at a time when the tango scene was experiencing a significant downturn as a consequence of several factors including:
  • the worldwide economic depression
  • a trend over the preceding decade for orquestas to become increasingly sophisticated and to play less danceable music arranged and played by formally trained classical musicians and often featuring vocalists
  • the death of Carlos Gardel in a plane crash in June 1935
It was against this background that D’Arienzo, who had led his emerging orquesta since 1928, chose to make changes that resulted in a resurgence of demand for tango. Notable changes he made included:
  • expanding his orquesta from a sextet to include 3 or 4 bandoneons and 3 or 4 violins
  • providing the pianist with a more featured role, including to play solo fills between phrases
  • reverting to the danceable rhythms of the pre-1925 “old guard” tango quartets with strong accents on beats 1 and 3, and for some music on beats 1, 2, 3 and 4
  • adopting simpler chord patterns and more standard and predictable structures for his musical arrangements
The orquesta’s 1935 recordings and live performances generated so much interest that by the end of that year D’Arienzo was operating several additional D’Arienzo orquestas playing simultaneously at multiple venues, and each night he would make brief appearances with each of them as conductor.
One of his orquestas featured Rodolfo Biagi on piano, and it was with Biagi that he recorded “Nuevo de Julio” in late 1935, then “El Flete” and “Don Juan” in 1936 as well as another 100 or so other recordings before Biagi left to form his own orquesta in 1938.
I have included a YouTube clip from the Sally Potter 1997 movie “The Tango Lesson” with Sally Potter, Pablo Veron, Gustavo Navieira, Fabian Salas and others dancing to “El Flete” in a social milonga setting: