Pianist, leader and composer
(January 7, 1903 January 12, 1960)
Nickname: El Señor del Tango
e, as nobody else, knew how to combine the rhythmic cadence of tango with a harmonic structure, apparently simple, but full of nuances and subtleties.
He was not enrolled for any of the two streams of his time. His was neither a traditional orchestra, styled after Firpo or Canaro nor a follower of the De Caro renewal.
Di Sarli imposed a seal of his own; a different musical profile, which remained, unaltered throughout his prolonged career.
In the beginning, his sextet reveals us the influence of Osvaldo Fresedo. And certainly, I think there would have never been a Di Sarli had not existed a Fresedo. But, only as necessary forerunner of a style that, with time, would become a pure model with its own and differentiated nature.
He was a talented pianist, maybe one of the most important, who conducted his orchestra from his instrument, with which he mastered the synchrony and the performance of the outfit.
In his orchestral scheme there were not instrumental solos, the bandoneon section sang at times the melody, but it had an essentially rhythmic and danceable role. Only the violin was showcased in an extremely delicate way, on a brief solo or on a counter melody.
The piano led in a suggesting way, with an embellished bass line, which turned into a trademark of the maestro, linking the bars of the piece and stressing the delicate, elegant rhythm, especially for dancing.
"Milonguero viejo", the tango he dedicated to Fresedo, his referent and admired friend, is curiously the paradoxical lapsus that portrays his own musical model.
In his childhood he began to study piano, oriented towards classical music. But at the age of 13 and, causing disgust in his teacher and his father, he started a tour with a zarzuela company visiting several Argentine provinces, playing popular music and tangos.
Soon later he debuted as soloist at a biógrafo (cinema) and at a tearoom in the city of Santa Rosa, province of La Pampa, both run by a friend of the family's, Mario Manara, an Italian like his father.
In 1919 he assembled his first orchestra to play at a tearoom in his home town, Bahía Blanca, the beginning of his long lasting artistic career.
In 1923 he arrived at the city of Buenos Aires with his brother Roque, where he was acquainted with the musician Alberico Spatola, conductor of the Buenos Aires police band and a relative of the Di Sarlis, who introduced him to the bandoneonist Anselmo Aieta to join the latter's outfit.
Later he joined the ranks of a very popular formation led by the violinist Juan Pedro Castillo, "the king of pizzicato".
He was also member of the Alejandro Scarpino trio, the acclaimed author of the tango "Canaro en París", and at the recordings for the Electra label he accompanied the actress and singer Olinda Bozán, Sofía Bozan's cousin.
Subsequently he made his debut with a sextet at the cabaret "Chantecler", but it did not last long due to a quarrel with the owner. Those were hard times, there were many rivals and to get a job was a very difficult task.
Through the violinist José Pécora he associated with Osvaldo Fresedo and performed in his orchestra inaugurating the Fénix theater of the neighborhood of Flores.
In the late 1927 he formed his first sextet with José Pécora and David Abramsky, on violins; César Ginzo and Tito Landó, on bandoneons, and on string bass, Adolfo Kraus. He performed at different tearooms and the following year he signed his first contract with RCA-Victor, where he started his labor on November 26, 1928.
For some of his recordings he included the vocalists Santiago Devin, Ernesto Famá and Fernando Díaz, three excellent interpreters whom he accompanied as well at his radio shows.
At this stage, Di Sarli cut 48 numbers, beginning with the tangos "T.B.C." (by Edgardo Donato) and "La guitarrita" (by Eduardo Arolas), to end on August 14, 1931 with "Una noche de garufa" (by Arolas) and "Maldita" (by Antonio Rodio and Celedonio Flores) with Ernesto Famá's voice.
Orchestra Carlos Di Sarli
In 1932 Antonio Rodríguez Lesende, who had been his first stable singer, joined the orchestra.
A few years later and due to reasons not clearly known, he split with his orchestra and went to Rosario, province of Santa Fe where he joined a small outfit with the bandoneonist Juan Cambareri. Meanwhile the sextet went on playing without Di Sarli but still bearing his name. Later because of the presentations at the "Novelty" tearoom, it would be known as Orquesta Novel. In 1935 he is requested by his former partners to join this line up, but only to replace the pianist Ricardo Canataro who was ill.
Only in the late 1938 he began to organize again his orchestra which would debut on Radio El Mundo in January 1939, lined up in the following manner: piano and direction Carlos Di Sarli; on violins: Roberto Guisado, Ángel Goicoechea and Adolfo Pérez; on bandoneons: Roberto Gianitelli, Domingo Sánchez and Roberto Mititieri; and Domingo Capurro on double bass; the singer was Ignacio Murillo, later replaced by Roberto Rufino.
On December 11, 1939 he came back to the Victor recording studios, with the tangos "Corazón" (his composition, with lyrics by Héctor Marcó), sung by Roberto Rufino and "Retirao" (a Carlos Posadas tango).
It is his period of glory; the team Di Sarli-Rufino constitutes a gold page of our tango. The rendition of "Tristeza marina" (by José Dames and Horacio Sanguinetti) is remarkable. Later the singers Carlos Acuña, for a very short time, Alberto Podestá, Jorge Durán and Oscar Serpa would successively be included.
Di Sarli's success was magnificent and generated a popular acclaim, which lasted until his death. Even though he was a musician strengthened in the previous decade, the forties found him at the peak of his art as leader and composer.
After 1949 Di Sarli withdrew again for commercial reasons, to return only in 1951.
He recorded for Music Hall from November 1951 to April 1953 waxing 84 releases where the vocalists Oscar Serpa and Mario Pomar can be heard.
In June 1954 he returned to the Victor company, until 1958 and his vocalists were Mario Pomar, Oscar Serpa, Argentino Ledesma, Rodolfo Galé, Roberto Florio and Jorge Durán, who came back.
His last discographic releases, a total of 14, were for the Philips label in 1958 and this time his singers were Horacio Casares and Jorge Durán.
The first tango he composed was "Meditación" around 1919, but he never recorded it. Out of the remainder of his work we undoubtedly highlight, "Milonguero viejo", "Bahía Blanca", "Nido gaucho" (with lyrics by Héctor Marcó), "Verdemar" (with lyrics by José María Contursi) and "Otra vez carnaval" (with lyrics by Francisco García Jiménez), true jewels of the genre.
El Señor del Tango (The Lord of Tango) was absolutely respectful of melody and the spirit of the composers of his repertoire, embellishing the orchestral instrumentation with nuances and subtle details, staying away from the false contradiction that existed between the evocative traditional tango and the avant-garde stream.
Carlos Di Sarli was the final piece of the puzzle of tango in the 40s, that made neither concessions to strident fashions, nor to rhythmic extravagances and who, however represented with extreme delicacy, the interpretative paradigm of danceable tango.