Enrique Binda

The “other” Orquesta Típica Select

he Victor company, even though was in the Argentine market since the beginnings of recording, only in 1922 had a local recording studio. Till then it got its «criollo» repertory by sending artists to record in Europe and the United States (1905-06) and later, with the arrival of itinerant or roving technical equipment. The latter arrived in the late 1907, early 1910 and 1912, as well as in the autumn of 1917.

By the mid-1920 this company decided to appear again in the Argentine environment and, especially, in tango by hiring a quintet of musicians to record in the United States. They would be put together in an aggregation under the name Orquesta Típica Select. Its core were two artists that had been included in its catalogues: Enrique Delfino, who had recorded piano solos in 1917, and Osvaldo Fresedo, a bandoneon player who had appeared as member of the Orquesta Típica Loduca which recorded that same year. The third stronghold was the violinist David Tito Roccatagliata, surely hired on recommendation by Fresedo. The latter had the role of leader and arranger of the Select although it was not mentioned.

This latter statement comes after analyzing the orchestra’s style in which we can track down the conceptions he later used in his own aggregation with which he recorded, also for Victor, as from 1922. The other two members, the second violinist Alberto Infantas Arancibia and the cellist Alfred Lennartz (artist of the same label), were locally recruited.

This quintet paved the road for the later period in which prevailed the so-called sextets and presented another evidence: the written arrangement. So Lennartz —who came from classical music, and consequently totally alien to tango and its interpretive characteristics—, was perfectly able to fit to the orchestra work. Then we see that the written arrangements, which may even have previous examples, did not spring up just in 1924 with the arrival of the lineup fronted by Julio De Caro, as it is usually said.

I now want to refute another assertion, in this case connected to Roccatagliata. It has been said that due to his supposed indulgement in alcoholic intoxication, as an emergency recordings of solos by Delfino and Fresedo had to be made to substitute for the impossibility of recording the orchestra with all its members.

This could be denied with the simple argument that all the recordings of any artist and, even more in the case of an international enterprise like the Victor, were previously agreed upon by a contract that specified either the money to be collected or the repertoire to be released. Then it is not logical to think that the recording technician, not to waste the time booked in the studio for the recording, on his own account may have told Delfino and Fresedo: «Hey, play something and I’ll record it just to save the day», or something of the kind.

On the other hand, the matrix previous to the first of the series of solos was the last recorded by the full orchestra and on the same date: “Alma cansada”, tango by Fidel Del Negro and Bernardo Germino, disc 72.899-A, matrix B 24.450-1, September 2, 1920. That is to say, the contract agreement of 50 recordings by the Select (including Roccatagliata) was fulfilled and immediately began the recording of the four solos by Delfino and the two by Fresedo, previously agreed.

Delfino began the series with “Delfy”, tango by Anselmo Aieta. He recorded up to the take 2 of the matrix B 24.451 on the same September 2, but they were unreleased. The one which finally was released was the take 5 of September 3, published in the disc 72.831-A. That same day 3 Fresedo cut his two solos.

Although up to this point there are some news stated, we still have to justify the title of this work. For that we must turn to another label: Columbia.

Having interrupted its activity towards the late 1914 because of World War I, Columbia resumed a new series of local recordings between 1920 and 1921. The recordings of an aggregation known as Orquesta Típica Columbia were made around the late 1920 or the early 1921. Its connection with the Select cannot be established without listening to some of those rare discs. When listening, it is immediately evident that either the repertoire or its arrangements are absolutely identical to the ones recorded some months before in the USA. Furthermore, the peculiar phrasing of Fresedo and the timbre of his instrument are recognizable, and there is also included a fifth member playing cello. Were Roccatagliata and Delfino the first violin and the pianist? Quite probably, because they had admirably played along with Fresedo these same charts.

The disc labels of Columbia, unlike Victor, do not mention the names of the basic trio: Delfino-Tito-Fresedo. As for the reason for this anonimity, probably it was necessary for evading some restriction imposed by the Victor company that prevented the recording of identical numbers and arrangements in another company.

This finding proves, as it was already said in another work, that not only we have to listen to records for our joy but also it is convenient to “think” over them, looking for relationships, scoops and interpretive details that they bring because of their role as talking witnesses of the tango evolution and the work of its artists.