Tango in Brazil
razil accompanies the evolution of tango, in all its manifestations, with the same interest and admiration like that of all Latin American countries. Even after 1960, with the advent of rock and roll and, principally because of that, the deep-rooted interest of Brazilians increased considerably, notably in those that learned to admire the impeccable presentation of the Buenos Aires rhythm, its melody, its poetry, its dance and its interpreters.
We can state, with an absolute conviction, that when there is an announcement of a tango show and a rock band (including the most famous), in any important Brazilian city, the former will produce a more transcendental effect, appealing to a faithful public that honor and applaud those who keep the roots planted by Villoldo, Arolas, Mendizábal and tens of other precursors.
The Brazilian, admirer of tango, keeps on "discovering new things" that he neither saw nor heard in the 40s and 50s of the recently past century. Even in the far Brazilian south, where the identity of the countries of the River Plate is closer and stronger, in that period of twenty years known as the "golden era of tango" we got used to applauding Hugo Del Carril, Alberto Castillo, among the singers. The well-known orchestras only were Francisco Canaro (and the Quinteto Pirincho) -easily ahead of the others in popularity-, Aníbal Troilo, Trío Ciriaco Ortiz and very little of Julio De Caro, Osvaldo Fresedo, Rodolfo Biagi, Miguel Caló, Juan de Dios Filiberto and Alfredo de Angelis.
Many other figures were not widely aired, because the above mentioned ones had already been here, on tours or through the few lacquer discs (78 rpm) found, eventually, on the scarce record shelves of the small radio stations and services of broadcasting of the time.
Maestros and orchestras, singers, poets and arrangers of a high level were without reach of the Brazilian tango fans. Only after the 60s we managed to know the beautiful performances of Ángel D'Agostino, Francisco Rotundo, Osvaldo Pugliese, Armando Pontier and others of the same lineage and category.
In like manner, singers like Ángel Vargas, Enrique Campos, Nelly Vázquez, Alberto Marino, Alberto Podestá, Floreal Ruiz, even the great Edmundo Rivero, among others, were discovered after 1960, when the tango nostalgia made the fans look after re-mastered recordings thanks to which the complete memory of tango was recovered nowadays.
Of course, the ones known were Libertad Lamarque, Imperio Argentina, on recordings as soloists, and Alberto Arenas, Enrique Lucero, Mario Alonso, Charlo, Ernesto Famá, Nelly Omar and Ángel Ramos (they all passed through the ranks of Canaro's orchestra, whose visits to Brazil were frequent); and the above mentioned Gardel, Castillo and Del Carril. The disc labels, mostly, onlymentioned orchestras and composers. The vocalist (or refrain singer) was forgotten or at a second level.
A historian qualified Canaro and his relationship with Brazil as follows: «Francisco Canaro formed and led the one which was, and still is, in the history of tango and of the other beats in the River Plate, the most famous and celebrated orchestra». As far as the present unanimous opinion is concerned, we disagree with the historian, however, as far as the 40s and 50s are concerned, we agree with him.
Take into account, too, that those tango stars appeared frequently in sound movies; hence, the admiration of the tango fans (who had movie screens as main entertainment). The most popular poets were Discépolo and Alfredo Le Pera, by far.
The origins of tango in Brazil are contemporary to the development of the genre in the River Plate. Great composers in the late nineteenth century composed tangos who were transcendental: Chiquinha Gonzaga, Zequinha de Abreu and nearer in time, Ernesto Nazareth.
In the first decade of the twentieth century recordings of tangos composed and played by Brazilian artists can be found. Later, in the 20s some singers well-known in the nation adhered to tango including it in their repertoires. One of the precursors was Francisco Alves, known as the "King of the Voice", who conducted a notable program on the principal Brazilian radio station of the period, Radio Nacional of Rio de Janeiro, on Sundays at noon.
By then Eladir Porto was becoming known. Her recordings are very rare
today. She was the one chosen for the events held at the Palacio do
Catete (the president's palace) in the first period of President Getúlio
Vargas (1930-1945). She was followed by Dalva de Oliveira who after
splitting with the "Trío de Ouro" (Golden Trio) led
by Herivelto Martins -her husband- and their separation, became a
soloist and reached the highest places in the polls. Owner of a privileged
voice -because she reached very hich notes-, succeeding in recording
with Francisco Canaro in
Rio de Janeiro, famous
Another singer -whose career was focused on carnival hits- and that recorded, however, many tangos, was Albertinho Fortuna. Among his best recordings are: "El día que me quieras", "Nostalgias", "Y todavía te quiero", "La cumparsita", "Mentira", "Cuesta abajo", "Garúa" and "Sus ojos se cerraron", among others, all them in Portuguese renderings. Carlos José, who preferred Portuguese music, also contributed some tangos.
The Brazilian poets who devoted themselves to write versions of the most famous Argentine and Uruguayan tangos were: David Nasser, Haroldo Barbosa, Juracy Camargo, Maestro Ghiarone and Adelino Moreira. The latter, an inspired composer and partner of the singer Nelson Gonçalves, wrote for the vocalist unforgettable versions and composed Brazilian tangos. Among the best known versions we can name: "Nostalgias", "Confissão" ("Confesión"), "Inveja" ("Envidia"), "Voltou uma noite" ("Volvió una noche"), "Triste abandono" ("Cuesta abajo"), "Sem palavras" ("Sin palabras") and "Amarras".
Gonçalves consecrated the Brazilian tango "Carlos Gardel" composed by Herivelto Martins in whose lyrics -by David Nasser- said in its final section: «...because of that as long as there is a sad tango, a fool, a cabaret and a guitar, you will also live, Carlos Gardel».
One of the trademarks of tango in Brazil still lives in the city of Sao Paulo: Carlos Lombardi. His perfect interpretation was recognized in Argentina and Uruguay on several occasions.
Lombardi devoted himself to the choice of a selected repertoire of tangos. His most celebrated hits are based on the renditions of "Sueño azul", "Fueron tres años", "A media luz", "Envidia", "Un tropezón", "Milonga sentimental" (in an excellent arrangement), "Que tarde que has venido", among others. He is a complete singer, looking like a lead actor, a similar gift like Del Carril's or Castillo's. His voice was strong, melodious and vibrant and possessed an exemplary power of interpretation.
Carlos Lombardi also made adaptations in tango and Spanish versions of some hits of the Brazilian popular music such as: "La distancia" (by Roberto and Erasmo Carlos, version of Buddy McCluskey) and "Dime cómo estás" ("Como vai você", by Antônio Marcos, in a version by María Losov).
An orchestra leader that deserves a special mention in this article is José Fernandes because, besides putting together his own tango orchestra, founded and run, while he lived, two tango venues (in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro) in which it was very difficult to get accommodation.
With a new and promising impulse, brought by the nostalgia of melodies nicely inspired, with history and tradition, the Brazilians adhere, in an increasing number, to tango. Cities like Porto Alegre, Florianópolis, Curitiba, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro offer nowadays ambiences in the tango tradition. Furthermore, their venues for shows and theaters are always crowded when it is announced: "Uma noite em Buenos Aires" with Podestá, Buono, Sandra Luna, Nora Rocca and others; or Antônio Magalhanes, his outfit and dancers, or the ever-present Raúl Bordale who spread widely tango for many years in Europe, today definitively based in Sao Paulo, showcased in the show "Tonight... Tango!" accompanied by the bandoneon player César Cantero and his Milongueros of the 40s, Roberto Abitante (piano), and another singer, Carlos Esteves, besides the dancers Eduara and the Dancing Group 4x2 formed in Brazil.