Quinteto Real – June 3, 2021

Tango Mahi – Tanda of the Week – Tangos by Quinteto Real.

This week’s featured Tango Mahi “Tanda of the Week” is of tango instrumentals of Quinteto Real, an orquesta formed to highlight the virtuosity of its individual musicians playing tango music for listening rather than for dancing.

In the late 1950s, tango in Buenos Aires was in deep decline, public milongas were prohibited and tango musicians were suffering financially. To get by, pianist Horacio Salgan took on gigs at a tearoom and cafes, playing either solo or in piano-guitar duos. The regular duo performances with guitarist Ubaldo De Lio soon gained a strong following, leading to recording contracts and increasing numbers of bookings for gigs elsewhere.

At one of the gigs, violinist Enrique Francini and bassist Rafael Ferro (both from the Miguel Calo then the Francini-Pontier orquestas) were also booked to play as a duo, and spontaneously the four musicians jammed an unrehearsed performance as a quartet. This went down well with the patrons and was enjoyed by the musicians, leading to even more bookings at various venues. At one of their regular venues, virtuoso bandoneonist Pedro Laurenz became a regular attendee, and in due course was talked into joining the orquesta, which they named “Quinteto Real”.

The Quintet debuted on Radio El Mundo in 1960 with an introduction by Anibal Troilo, and quickly became recognised as a “super group”. Quinteto Real recorded albums in 1960 and 1964, played regularly in Buenos Aires and toured to Japan and through Europe to much acclaim.

In the late 1960s, Laurenz retired and Francini left the orquesta to rejoin Miguel Calo and his former orquesta members Armando Pontier, Domingo Federico and Alberto Podesta in “La Orquesta de las Estrellas”.

When Salgan was invited to record again by a Japanese recording company, he and De Lio recruited Leopoldo Federico, Antonio Agri and Omar Murtagh to replace the retired originals and released recordings from 1987 under the name “Nuevo Quinteto Real”.

Since then Nuevo Quinteto Real has had many changes in personnel, including a passing of Salgan’s piano role to his son Cesar Salgan. The new quintet has to date recorded several more albums, and toured the world playing the repertoire and arrangements of Horacio Salgan and other original Quinteto Real members.

Despite the initial intention to generate music for listening rather than dancing, many of the quintets’ instrumentals have rhythms that are just as suitable for tango dancing as those of the most popular golden age orquestas tipicas, with the added bonuses for dancers of familiar repertoires, beautiful arrangements and virtuosity in musicianship.

The tangos I have chosen for the tanda are:

Gran Hotel Victoria
El Abrojita
Organito de la Tarde