For many tango dancers the first tango music they ever danced to was that of Carlos Di Sarli y su Orquesta Tipica. In particular his late instrumentals with their strong, clear beat are a favourite of tango teachers everywhere. But there is a lot more to Di Sarli than just these famous numbers.
Carlos Di Sarli was born on 7th January 1903, in Bahia Bianca in Buenos Aires. He began performing as a pianist at the age of 13. It was also at this time that an accident with a gun belonging to his farther left him with a disfigured eye, which is why he always wore dark glasses for the rest of his life. He played piano for a number of different orquestas before finally working as one of Fresedo’s pianists. Fresedo was extremely popular at this time, especially in the wealthier part of Buenos Aires, and ran a number of Orquestas to meet public demand!
In 1927 Di Sarli formed his first Orquesta, a sextet which made quite a number of recordings between 1928 and 1931. This music was very much Guardia vieja in style, showing some influences from Fresedo’s Orquesta of the time. Here you can here the number “Cicatrices” played by the sextet with the singer Santiago Devincenzi
Hør musik på Youtube: Cicatrices, Di Sarli og Santiago Devincenzi
In 1931the sextet stopped recording, they had survived by playing music for silent films, with the advent of talkies they lost their contract! After spending a number of years outside the capital, Di Sarli returned to Buenos Aires at the end of 1938 to put together a new orquesta. They started performing the next year, recording for the first time later the same year. The music they recorded over the next couple of years was fast and rythmic. A good example of this period would be the instrumental “El Estagiaro”
Hør musik på Youtube: El Estagiaro, Di Sarli
Over the years, as his music developed, the speed of the music slowed and more and more emphasis was placed on melody. But throughout his career his music had a number of elements in common: firstly it was always great for dancing, secondly the violins were arguably the most important element in the orquesta handling both the rhythm and melody (he added more and more violins over the years), musicians were never allowed solos - it was the sound of the orquesta as a whole that was important, and finally the distinctive clear, ringing tones of Di Sarli’s piano playing. He is a recording of “Nido Gaucho” with the singer Mario Pomar that illustrates the orquestas sound in middle of its career.
Hør musik på Youtube: Nido Gaucho, Di Sarli og Mario Pomar
Di Sarli was a great pianist, easily one of the most important in tango history, and he led his orquesta from this instrument. He was secretive about his playing technique, he played so that audience could never see his hands, it has been said that he never allowed himself to be filmed (although his lack of film work may also be because he was considered “bad luck” by some - Piazolla who was quite superstitious would not even say his name out loud), and on one occasion legend has it he walked out of a radio broadcast because one of the studio engineers was trying to watch him play. In his tangos, he had a very much “less is more” approach to his piano playing, but he would often show how good a pianist he was when playing milongas, just listen to “ Pena Mulata” he recorded with the singer Roberto Rufino:
Hør musik på Youtube: Pena Mulata, Di Sarli og Roberto Rufino
Unlike many lesser orquestas that standard of recordings remained very high right to the end of his career in the late fifties. Throughout his working life he always used great singers: Roberto Rufino, Alberto Podesta, Jorge Duran, Mario Pomar, Oscar Serpa and Roberto Florio are all well worth hearing. Although his famous late instrumentals such as Bahia Bianca, Indio Manso, Una Fija and many more are still amongst his more popular numbers, I would like to finish with the song “Adios Corazon” sung by Roberto Florio to give you an idea of the huge, stylish grandeur of late Di Sarli.
Hør musik på Youtube: Adios Corazon, Di Sarli og Roberto Florio
Carlos Di Sarli died on 12th January 1960 of cancer. Fittingly in his final concert a few months before his death, the last number he played was Bahia Bianca - named after the place of his birth. He had the reputation of being uncompromising and hard to work for, but he left a legacy of many of the most beautiful tangos ever recorded.
Læs også: Juan D'Arienzo