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Osvaldo Fresedo: tango for the upper classes

If proof were needed that tango appealed to all sections of society, then listen to the smooth, elegant, tango of Osvaldo Fresedo.

Born in the barrio of La Paternal in the upper class Barrio Norte (north side), far from the poverty of the river areas such as La Boca on the south side, known and immortalised simply as Sur, Fresedo developed a style that would appeal to high society.

Fresedo had a long career, his recordings being punctuated only by the great depression. This hiatus is accompanied by a change in style, and when he returned to the studio in 1933 it was to record the polished salon tangos - perfect for a tea dance - which is today associated with his name. However, if I had to choose, then without hesitation it is the last of the earlier recordings which I would take to my desert island. They alloy the charm which he always has with more rhythm and more feeling than is present in his later work. This is reflected in his popularity. Whilst in the 1930s and 40s he was certainly successful, in the late 1920s he ran four orchestras simultaneously. Even at the height of his success, D'Arienzo only managed three.

I'm on a budget - I only want I only want one album of Fresedo

Osvaldo Fresedo - Tangos de salón

BMG 41287

From his return to the studio in 1933 - long before the legendary fame of Troilo and Fiorentino - Fresedo had already introduced a singer into his orchestra who was more than just an estribillista. This was Roberto Ray, perhaps the greatest of his singers, who remained with him until 1938. Together they had a strong of hits, many of which are regularly played today. They effortlessly evoke the elegance of an upper class tea dance, complete with waiters in evening dress and potted palms.

Track list

  1. Vida mía
  2. Niebla del Riachuelo
  3. Aromas
  4. Pampero
  5. Sollozos
  6. Siempre es carnaval
  7. Volver
  8. No quiero verte llorar
  9. Yo no sé llorar
  10. Isla de Capri tango-fox
  11. Como aquella princesa
  12. Angustia
  13. Media vuelta
  14. En la huella del dolor
  15. Cordobesita
  16. Recuerdos de bohemia
  17. Te juro madre mía
  18. Canto de amor
  19. Dulce amargura
  20. El mareo
Canta
  • Roberto Ray (1-20)

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Fresedo in the 1920s

BMT 024 You must hear Fresedo's guardia vieja recordings from 1926-1928. Fresedo recorded prolifically at this time - almost 400 recordings - and the quality is uniformly high. This is a very different Fresedo to the sugary late recordings: strongly rhythmic, almost crisp, this is outstanding dance music.

It's not so easy to hear this music. For many years, there was nothing available on an Argentine label. This changed in 2012 with the release of this CD:

Tango Collection - Osvaldo Fresedo

RGS 1643

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Here it is: a completely different Fresedo to the one you think you know. Strong beats and a base that almost growls at times make this just irresistible for dancing. The interpretation of La cachila is astounding, Lorenzo is delightful - you can find something good to say about every track on this CD.

Track list

  1. Arrabalero
  2. Felicia
  3. El espiante
  4. Frases de amor
  5. La cachila
  6. Tinta verde
  7. Victoria
  8. Caminito
  9. Noches de Colón
  10. Paternal
  11. Saturnia
  12. Tradición
  13. Di Di
  14. El once
  15. El entrerriano
  16. Rivas
  17. Re fa si
  18. Noche de reyes
  19. Lorenzo
  20. Milonga con variación

The 1940s and 50s

At the beginning of 1939, Roberto Ray quit Fresedo's orchestra, dissolving their hugely successful partnership. Fresedo would never again find a singer that suited him so well. His replacement was Ricardo Ruíz, whose recordings range from the sublime (Buscándote) to the ridiculous (Plegaria, which is so bad, I gave away the FM Tango cd with it on. I know, what was I thinking).

Carlos Mayel joins as second singer to try and plug the gap left by Ray. Both Mayel and Ruiz leave in 1942 and Fresedo hires a young Oscar Serpa who would eventually be hired by Carlos Di Sarli. There is an album of Fresedo with Oscar Serpa on Reliquias, but the fidelity is disappointing.

1950 inaugurated a big change for Fresedo - as it did for many orchestras. Fresedo recruited Roberto Pansera as his arranger, and he made big changes, with some fast paced milongas and a few arrangements of Piazzolla numbers. If you want more of the 50s instrumentals you can find them on on the Fresedo album in the series From Argentina to the World. However, first take a look at this CD:

The Masters of Tango - Osvaldo Fresedo - Una gota de rocío

LCDM 2742309

This compilation ranges from 1942-1957, in mostly chronological order. The first part of the disc is outstanding, with some nice Oscar Serpa vocals in good fidelity. 1948's Cafetín de Buenos Aires is especially surprising.

However from here on we are in the 1950s: Roberto Pansera's strong instrumental arrangements mixed with the sugary vocals of Héctor Pacheco. As they say in football, definitely a disc of two halves.

The extensive sleeve notes feature an excellent essay on Fresedo although this has little to do with the material featured on the disc. There is a lot of information about Fresedo's early years. They then switch to focus on his development in the 1950s, with some nice anecdotes about Fresedo's musical encounter with Dizzy Gillespie in 1956.

Track list

  1. Rodríguez Peña
  2. Al cerrar los ojos
  3. Cosas viejas
  4. Uno
  5. En cada puerto un adiós
  6. Noches largas
  7. Cafetín de Buenos Aires
  8. Para lucirse
  9. A la parilla
  10. Vamos vamos Zaino viejo
  11. Prepárense
  12. Contratiempo
  13. Pero yo sé
  14. Ninguna
  15. Adiós muchachos
  16. La casita de mis viejos
  17. Una gota de rocío
  18. El once
  19. Triunfal
  20. Preludio N°3
  21. Apasionado
  22. Divina
  23. Por que?
  24. En mis noches
  25. La viruta
Cantan:
  • Oscar Serpa (2-6)
  • Osvaldo Cordó (7)
  • Armando Gorrindo (10)
  • Héctor Pacheco (13-14,16-17)
  • Carlos Barrios (22)


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