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.


The mysterious Emilio Pellejero

Some years ago I attended a tango marathon and while I was dancing a never heard milonga has been played: Mi vieja linda. It has been an unforgettable moment of dance. Even though I never heard this tango before it sounded familiar to me. That might sound paradoxal but it confirms that well dancable tangos you might play for the first time form some kind of exception when it comes to acceptance by the audience. Generally people I have been talking to, don’t like too much to dance to music they don’t know very well. When I played this milonga for the first time at a local milonga in Brussels, it had the same déjà vu effect on the most recalcitrant dancers.

As I later was told, this milonga has been performed by the Orquesta Emilio Pellejero in 1941. I found a recording at the Uruguayan record label Sondor the CD is called El Tango de los 40, Inéditos de Sondor, Sondor catalogue number 8.200 – 2.

According to Todotango.com Emilio Pellejero recorded some other tangos with Sondor but to my knowledge none of these recordings seem to be reissued on CD. The person record on Tango.info is even more limited and states that the overall performances of this orchestra is estimated to 4. All these performances point to the two Sondor CD samplers El Tango de los 40, Inéditos de Sondor and Tangos para la Historia (1944 – 1948) with reissued tangos mainly recorded in Uruguay. Curiously Tango.info just shows a birth date for Emilio Pellejero, as he was born the 1st of January 1911, he might party his 100th birthday in a couple of days if he is still alive.

So, unless I know better this person’s work, I suppose there are a lot of lost works around on some vinyl records or 78 RPMs waiting to be discovered. Let’s start to search for it 😉 Here is the tanda how I play it:

  1. Milonga oriental, Ángel Sica (Instrumental), 1942, 1:57
  2. Mi vieja linda, Emilio Pellejero : Enalmar De Maria, 1941, 2:26
  3. Rebeldía, Ángel Sica : Romeo Gavioli, 1942, 2:20

As this milonga tanda is quite short or if you like to play 4 milongas, you could add the following milonga at the beginning of the tanda:

  1. Flor de milonga, Rogelio Coll : Enrique Campos, 1942, 2:11

They all work perfectly well together and are on the same Sondor CD. It is also worth to note that Sondor’s masters seem to be in a bad condition or that they have grabbed these tangos from a damaged 78 RPM. I would really love to get hold on better quality recordings.