Tango Mahi Tanda of the Week – Orquesta Tipica Lucio Demare featuring Juan Carlos Miranda singing songs of Demare and poet Homero Manzi –
In the early 1920s Lucio Demare was in his mid-teens, had been playing solo piano professionally in cinemas for silent movies since he was eight years old, and was the pianist in a jazz band. At that time the large balls and dances in Buenos Aires provided three groups of musicians to play sequentially though the evening; a classical orchestra in the pit, a jazz band on one stage and a tango orquesta tipica on a second stage.
The Francisco Canaro orquesta tipica and Demare’s young jazz band performed regularly together on these adjoining stages and over time Demare befriended Canaro and Canaro’s pianist, who would spend time after each gig, teaching Demare the nuances of tango piano playing.
The jazz band tandas would often include Demare playing his own jazz and tango compositions solo, some of which attracted high praise from the other musicians as well as from general attendees. One evening Carlos Gardel was in attendance, and took a liking to, then later rehearsed and premiered Demare’s composition “Dandy”.
In 1926 at the age of 19 Demare was taken to Paris by Canaro, where for two years he played with Canaro and others, played solo piano gigs and continued to compose music.
Through his early 20s, Demare spent time in France, Spain, Cuba and several South American countries working hard as a musician and composer and as an actor, but he lacked business skills and failed to accumulate any wealth despite the better rewards on offer than were available in Argentina. In 1938 Demare formed his own orquesta in Buenos Aires with high quality musicians and vocalists including Juan Carlos Miranda and later Raul Beron, and achieved great popularity through to 1948 but was not successful commercially, reflecting Demare’s focus on quality of music rather than economics.
Over the years, Demare became adept at putting music to poetry, and Homero Manzi, who he knew, invited Demare to compose music for some of Manzi’s poems. Of the five recordings made by the Demare orquesta in 1938, two were Demare compositions including one tango (“Telon”) derived from a Manzi poem.
From 1941, when the orquesta started recording regularly, nearly all of the Demare compositions recorded were based on Manzi poems, including “Malena” and “Manana zarpa un barco” in 1942. This week’s Tanda of the Week comprises those three songs, all sung by Juan Carlos Miranda.
In a Demare interview published on the todotango.com website, he recounts how Manzi had given him the “Malena” lyrics and asked him to compose music for it, but ten days later when they were next due to meet, Demare had not begun. Demare said that he said to himself “ ‘Tonight Manzi will come and at least I’ll tell him how the tango begins’. Then I sat at a café and wrote it from beginning to end, neither polishing it nor changing anything at all.” He said that he completed the music in no more than 15 minutes.
The songs in the tanda are:
1938 Telon (“Curtain”)
1942 Malena (“Malena”)
1942 Manana zarpa un barco (“Tomorrow a ship sets sail”)
Check out this 2007 video of Ney Melo and Jennifer Bratt dancing to “Manana zarpa un barco”: