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Anibal Troilo - Pichuco

Anibal Troilo was born on 11th July 1914 in Buenos Aires -  he became know as “El Bandoleon mayor de Buenos Aires” - the Best bandoneon player in Buenos Aires - however he was not a virtuoso player like  Pedro Laurence, or Osvaldo Ruggiero (who played in Pugliese’s orquesta). He was said by other musicians to display a solid technique, a synthesis of three great players who pad preceded him: Pedro Maffia, Ciriaco Ortiz and Pedro Laurence. What made him stand out was his “feel” for tango music - it was said that he could express more by playing two notes than most players could do in a long solo. He once said tears would often run down his face while he was playing.

He became fascinated by the bandoneon at an early age, his mother bought him a second-hand instrument from a local music shop but as it cost the huge sum of $140 she arranged to pay it off at the sum of $10 a month. After 4 months the shopkeeper disappeared and they were never asked to pay anything else - Troilo used this very instrument for most of the rest of his career. He made his first public appearance at the age of 11 and quit school to become a full time musician only a couple of years later. He paid his dues playing with a number of different orquestas such as  Juan Maglio, Julio De Caro, Alfredo Gobbi, Elvino Vardaro, Ciriaco Ortiz and Juan Carlos Cobian as well as being a session musician for the Victor record label.

Anibal Troilo

A teenage Anibal Troilo

He formed his first orquesta in 1937, they made two recordings in 1938, but were “kept on ice” by their record label who had a policy of signing musicians but not recording them, simply to keep them out of the hands of competitors. However these recording were years ahead of other orquestas of the time, just listen to their version of the old tango classic Comme il faut

Hør musik på Youtube: Anibal Troilo, Comme il faut

It was not until 1941, when they were able to change record labels, that the orquesta really took off. This orquesta was fantastic, Troilo surrounded himself with musicians he had previously worked with and trusted, in this orquesta there were four other musicians who were of particular importance, the pianist Orlando Goni, the singer Francisco Fiorentino, the bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla and the bass player Enrique Diaz. It is the recordings by this line up that are played most in milongas today.

Listen to them here playing the number Milongueando en la 40 ,which the well known author and DJ Michael Lavocah calls “ a manifesto for the rich dance music of the day”

Hør musik på Youtube: Milongueando en el 40, Anibal Troilo

In Goni they had possibly the best pianist in the history of tango. He didn’t need his parts written down by arrangers - his improvisations were better than anything they could come up with. Much of the excitement generated by the orquesta came from him. Unfortunately he lived up to reputation of a bohemian musician to the full: nightlife, drugs and alcohol, took their toll and he became more and more unreliable as time past, often missing both rehearsals and performances.


Fiorentino, Goni & Troilo

Fiorentino, together with Troilo, redefined what a singer in a tango orquesta should be. He became the focal point of the orquesta, rather than just  a “refrain” singer which had been the role of singers in dance orquestas up to this point. They were a perfect match, perhaps the best “binomial” (orquesta leader + singer) of them all. Fiorentino was also older than the rest of the musicians, and as he had a background as a tailor, he became responsible for the clothes they wore on stage as he knew the importance of projecting the correct image. One of my personal favourite performances by Fiorentino and Troilo is Gricel, listen to it here:

Hør musik på Youtube: Gricel, Anibal Troilo

The whole band was anchored rhythmically by Diaz, managing to keep time with Goni’s piano, which was not an easy task. He was a vital part of the orquestas spine, staying with Troilo until the late 50’s when he left to play with Piazzolla.


Unfortunately this wonderful line-up could not last for ever. Firstly, the sound of the band started to change when Troilo added a second singer - Alberto Marino. There was simply too much work for the orquesta for a single vocalist to cope. Soon afterwards Goni was sacked because he simply became too unreliable. He was, in many ways, irreplaceable and the quality of the orquesta did drop noticeably, although Troilo still remained a force to be reckoned with.

Fiorintino, left soon afterwards to go solo, he worked briefly with both Goni and Piazzola, (who also left the orquesta around this time), but the magic never really happened - quite simply, he never again hit the heights he did with Troilo.

Although Troilo produced some excellent music with Marino, and his later singers such as Edmundo Rivero, Floreal Ruiz. Raul Beron and others - the orquesta had changed. This music, although still of very high quality, is heard much less today than the early material. During this period the music Troilo made was still aimed at dancers, but it is rather overlooked by most dj’s today, mainly because the earlier stuff is so popular.

Listen to the song Margo to hear how the whole sound of the orquesta had changed:

Hør musik på Youtube: Margo, Anibal Troilo

No films that I know of exist of Troilo’s first great orquesta, but to give you a taste of a relatively young Troilo in action, here is a clip from a cinema film where he is playing with the great singer Alberto Castillo (perhaps best known today for his recordings with Ricardo Tanturi’s orquesta). Troilo and Castillo never made any records together, but they appeared together on film a number of times:

Se og hør på Youtube: Ninguna, Anibal Troilo

Later, in the mid 50’s and onwards, Troilo moved more and more towards a “concert” sound as less and less people were dancing tango at this time, and the musicians needed to appeal to a different audience in order to find work. He remained extremely popular in B.A., and with his partnership with Goyeneche  during the late 50s he again had one of the greatest voices in tango history in his audience, but his days of playing primarily for dancers were, by this time, over. Troilo remained an almost legendary figure in Buenos Aires, until he passed away in May 1975 at the age of 60.


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