Osvaldo Fresedo meets Dizzy Gillespie

The other day while looking at the later Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestra I found a very nice recording of Vida mía from 1956 where the voice of the singer is substituted with Dizzy Gillespie‘s jazz trumpet.  What a great recording! Most of the later recordings by Fresedo starting with the 1950s are to my taste not so well fitted for dancing in modern milongas (at least I haven’t found yet any usable tangos by Fresedo from this period). When Fresedo was performing in the USA at that time he even announced his music as jazz music.

In 1956 the famous north American jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie was on a visit to Buenos Aires and arrived one evening in Osvaldo Fresedo’s night club called Rendezvous Porteño. As the Fresedo Orchestra performed tangos from their repertoire, Dizzy Gillespie improvised on his trumpet. This was a historical meeting of two unique sounding musicians and a tangent between tango and jazz which mainly evolved separately, even concurrently at that time.

During my dj-set on the 31st of December in Amsterdam on a new year eve milonga at the Academia de Tango, I have been looking for a nice last tanda which could be happy, profound and marking the turn of the year. The trumpet voice is ideal for literally blowing away the old year, some musical onomatopoeia, I imagine that it’s the sound of the angel passing by and sweeping away the old year.

See here my tanda of the new year’s eve:

  1. Cordobesita, Osvaldo Fresedo : Roberto Ray, 1933, 2:34
  2. En la huella del dolor, Osvaldo Fresedo : Roberto Ray, 1934, 2:49
  3. Isla de Capri, Osvaldo Fresedo : Roberto Ray, 1935, 3:17
  4. Vida mía, Osvaldo Fresedo : Dizzy Gillespie (in vivo), 1956, 4:12
  5. La cumparsita, Osvaldo Fresedo (Instrumental), 1943, 2:20

In the 4th piece the voice of Roberto Ray, the sweet singer, is getting replaced by the heavenly trumpet of Dizzy Gillespie .


This version of Vida Mía is taken from the Acqua Records CD Osvaldo Fresedo Rendezvous Porteño con Dizzy Gillespie AQDP002.  This album contains four tangos together with Dizzy Gillespie, all live recordings. The other tangos are mainly recordings from broadcasted radio of theater shows and the ending track is an interesting interview with Osvaldo Fresedo from 1968.

One of the tangos, Adiós muchachos, is unadvised to be play when you have superstitious tangueros in the milonga. It is actually considered as the sung testament and farewell of Carlos Gardel who died in an aircrash in 1935 and playing it, or even worse, dancing it, would bring bad luck 😉

By the way, I use at least one other tanda with a trumpet voice, it’s very present in the Francisco Canaro CD album Candombe, EBCD 108, which holds a selection of his tangos from 1941-1949. Especially when you listen to En esta tarde gris, the trumpet voice is very present, it is in the background though and doesn’t replace the singer. Some of the tangos on this collection have a very jazzy touch and can make a nice fresh dancing tanda.


7 thoughts on “Osvaldo Fresedo meets Dizzy Gillespie

  1. Jens-Ingo, I have loved this version of “Vida mía” since I first heard it years ago. We even named our Vida Mía Dublin Tango Cafe after the song 😉

    I’m very interested researching in the parallel development of North American Jazz and South American Tango in the early 20th century – I need to educate myself about Jazz first though…

    One thing that I’ve noted is that early Tango and early Jazz were both targeted towards dancers, especially during the between-war years. And then both of them became more “academic” – targeting armchair listeners and musicians rather than dancers from the 1950’s onwards – the birth of cool and all that Jazz.

    I play the Fresedo-Gillespie version of “Vida mía” in a 3-song tanda consisting of only songs from that album: “Vida mía”, “Capricho de amor” and “Adios muchachos” (I don’t care too much for the superstition…)

    It makes for a very relaxed late-night tanda – perhaps as the last tanda even as you did, ending with “La cumparsita”- usually the same 1943 version that you chose, though I might consider the 1979 version as an experiment. Either way, it’s a lovely calm way to end a milonga.

    I wouldn’t mix it with any Roberto Ray though – his voice is just so charming (though I like Ricardo Ruiz even more) and it doesn’t blend well enough with the later Gillespie collaboration for me.


    • hello johan,
      this was a special last tanda for a special context, just for the ending of the evening. the tanda had a surprise effect as the dancers didn’t expect the trumpet part in the last song. i wouldn’t mix roberto ray and dizzy gillespie during a evening in an intermediate tanda. nor would i play just play the dizzy gillespie versions in one tanda but it’s interesting to know that other djs do 😉 one day i would like to be dancing in one of your milongas, sounds interesting.
      concerning the 1950s and 1960s, there are actually quite some interesting orchestras which remain very danceable like d’arienzo with jorge valdez or carlos di sarli with mario pomar.

  2. Hallo Jens-Ingo, danke für die Infos über den Tango, den ich Dank Dir am Samstag in Wuppertal tanzen konnte und mich dabei sehr über die (mir unbekannte) Version gefreut hab 🙂 Liebe Grüsse aus Wien Vero

  3. Pingback: Inspiración | Jens-Ingo's Tango DJ

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