Alfonso Laso Bermeo

11. To talk about tango is to name Gardel

o talk about tango is to name Gardel. We do not discover anything new when we say that there was no one like him. And he had the merit of popularizing tango in Europe and in America, then the principal centers for those who intended to transmit a musical message at that time, the 10s, the 20s and the 30s until his death, an event that occurred when he had reached stardom. The world was shaken by Gardel´s death, el zorzal criollo (the creole thrush), the top expression of tango by voice, by feeling, by angel, by figure. El morocho del Abasto succeeded, on his way over this land, in introducing tango into the most faraway places and he turned out to be the greatest Argentine ambassador of all times in the art field, in music. Gardel is tango and tango is Argentina.

There are many versions about his origin, his birth, his early years. It seems it´s true that he was born in France, in Toulouse, that when a small child he crossed the Atlantic ocean in his mother´s arms, Mrs. Bertha Gardés. Nobody can be sure that Carlos Gardel knew his father. However, there were people who affirmed that Gardel was born in Montevideo. An Uruguayan passport states that the great singer of tango and other music genres, was born in the oriental country, where he was living precisely when he had to serve for the army in Buenos Aires. And logically, if Carlos Gardel is the greatest figure of Argentine tango, if Buenos Aires is which gave him fame and launched him into the music and cinema world, it would be logical to say that he was born near el Abasto, a popular Argentine neighborhood where that market was placed.

But if the whole Gardel´s history has been attractive by his voice, that was precisely the magnet which the great tango man had on any corner of the world where he was; his charisma was so powerful that all those features were an addition for what resulted in consecrating his unique, matchless voice.

Gardel made his early discographical recordings in 1913 and little do we know about his previous career. He joined the Uruguayan José Razzano and together they succeeded in performances at theaters and cabarets. In 1917 he split of Razzano and recorded again with a remarkable success. His figure and his voice were enough reasons for being hired to be starred on a first movie, Flor de Durazno, in 1917, a year which turned out decisive for his successful artistic life because he became associated with the Glücksmann record company and interpreted one of the most famous tangos of all times “Mi noche triste”; with which he changed, and deeply modified popular song. Earlier, together with Razzano he sang many folk songs and there were people who said that Gardel liked more that kind of music than the tango of then.

Carlos Gardel created a style which nobody was able to either imitate or equal. It is because his voice turned out unique. 55 years have passed since his death but the tango fans know that Gardel sings better each day. And he was creator and also brilliant interpreter because of his feeling, due to the deepness of his expression, due to his faultless vocalization, because he transmitted what the Argentine people felt and for he made his style prevail in Europe that fell enthralled by his personality.

Gardel, after his tragic death remained in the hearts of all who love popular song. His manly voice was the vehicle for the sadness or the happiness of his singing and his figure turned out fundamental to reach a unique place. He was an authentic myth and the Gardelians do not admit any comparison concerning tango even though figures like Rivero, Del Carril, Castillo, Sosa, Dante, Goyeneche and other greats of the city song have appeared.

Yes, no doubt, to talk about tango is to say Gardel, el zorzal criollo, and we have to repeat until boredom, he sings better each day...

Alfonso Laso Bermeo: Journalist. He was born in Quito in 1929, a city where he followed studies of engineering. Expert in sports journalism, he was head of the editorial staff in the newspaper Últimas Noticias and is an outstanding conductor of diverse radio and television programs. His interest in tango was evidenced in his participation and his role as emcee on radio programs devoted to the River Plate urban music. He helds now a bench as council-man for the Quito district of the province of Pichincha.