Most important Tango Orchestras

Igor Polk, November 27, 2006

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Here is a practically complete list of tango orchestras. But you have to know that there are periods: 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1952-1960s, 1970-present. Music and dancing styles were distinctively different in each period. Take 2-3 CDs of each period, listen to it, and here you are - you are an expert. Well, at least, you will know what we are talking about. Especially I would suggest it for tango musicians. Believe me, it is amazing discoveries are waiting for you! You can not be a tango musician if you have not become an expert in tango music of all periods. This relates to classical musicians too. And that is doable !

Here are all important tango dance orchestras in random order from my CD-shelf:

Again, this is a random order.

This is it. But give me a favor, to become familiar to tango music you actually should hear at least 20 pieces of each of these orchestras of every available period. Even if it sounds unusual for you. Sometimes they played in older musical style in later periods, but you will figure it out. Ok?

More material of what CDs are good samples of an orchestra is in the table below.

I buy my CDs from, former Towerrecords. You should search for a composer or orchestra name. Most of them do not have samples. There are quite a lot of poor quality CDs ( not to speak about music. Most modern music or collections are of very poor quality musically-wise ). EMI consistently produces good quality old record CDs. Good luck assembling your collection!

Here is the table of the CDs I could recommend as samples of a particular orchestra:


CD. ( A year at the end shows the CD release date, not the time the music was recorded. Almost all music I advise is recorded before 1952. )


Francisco Canaro

"La cumparsita" Tango Argentino, from Living Era CD AJA5456, 2003


This is the best Canaro CD. Orillero style mostly. Very rhythmic music.


Carlos Di Sarli


"Colleccion 78 RPM, 1928/1931", from Sony/BMG, EU 17022, 2005


Great examples of Salon of 20s.


Carlos Di Sarli


"Colleccion 78 RPM, 1940/1943", from Sony/BMG, EU 17016, 2004


Great examples of Salon of 20s and Apilado of 40s tango styles.


Juan D'Arienzo


"De pura cepa 1935-1936", from Sony/BMG, 82876693302


Great examples of Salon 20s, orillero, and Canyengue. A lot of valses.


Roberto Firpo


"Tangazos de Antano", Reliquias series, from EMI, 7243 5 41727 2 4, 2002


Great quality records in old styles


Osvaldo Fresedo


I do not have his best CD, so I can not recommend it - I do not know the numbers.



Orquesta Tipica Victor


"Colleccion 78 RPM 1929/1944", from Sony/BMG, EU 17021, 2005


Great selection of music in all styles


Ciriaco Ortiz


"Colleccion 78 RPM", Los Provincianos 1931/1934, Trio Ciriaco Ortiz 1931/1955, from Sony/BMG, EU17024, 2005


Ciriaco Ortiz is a bandoneon player. That is the way to play tango dear bandoneonists and guitarists!


Angel D'Agostino


"Colleccion 78 RPM 1942/1953", from Sony/BMG, EU 17027, 2005



Julio De Caro


"Bien Jaileife", from EMI, 7243 5 41697 2 4, 2002


Nice, more in the rhythms of 40s.


Astor Piazzolla


in the series "Las Grandes Orquestas del Tango", 40 grandes exitos ( 2 CD set), BMT 611


I like old staff, 40s. It is danceable music.


Alberto Castillo


"Candombes y Milongas", EMI, 7243 499974 2 4, 1999


Alberto Castillo is a singer promoting style of black Candombe dancing.


Edgardo Donato


"Colleccion 78 RPM 1933/1941", from Sony/BMG, EU 17019, 2004



Francisco Lomuto


"Francisco Lomuto y su Orquesta Tipica, 1927-1940", from El Bandoneon, EBCD 138, 2001



Rodolfo Biagi


"Sus exitos con Alberto Amor", from EMI, 7243 499968 2 3, 1999


Apilado tangos with pulsating rhythm


Pedro Laurenz


"Creaciones inolvidables con Podesta y Bermudez", from EMI, 7243 5 29110 2 8, 2000



Osvaldo Pugliese


"Cantan Alberto Moran y Roberto Chanel", from EMI, 7243 5 41703 2 4, 2002


Great night time Apilado tangos


Enrique Rodriguez


"Tangos con Armando Moreno", from EMI, 7243 5 29105 2 6, 2000


simpler music, but nice. Good for practice


Anibal Troilo


"La Cumparsita - 1943", from BMG Ariola Argentina, 82876594402, 2004


More complex music, but danceable.


Lucio Demare


"Sus exitos con Miranda, Beron y Quintana", EMI, 7243 5 29132 2 0, 2000



Alfredo De Angelis


"Ruiz, Martel, Dante Sus primeros vocalistas", EMI, 7243 5 29106 2 5, 2000



Ricardo Tanturi


"Colleccion 78 RPM 1940/1950", BMG, EU 17003, ( 8287 660252-2), 2004



I consider Canaro, Di Sarli, and D'Arienzo most important tango directors, since they recorded music for many dancing styles: orillero, salon, canyengue, apilado. Pugliese and Troilo are most important, but they recorded only for advanced Apilado dancing. Frankly, I can not give preferences to anyone. They all come together as chapters in the math book, they all interconnected.

* * *
There are plenty of videos on YouTube with life performances of musicians and singer, for example: Angel D'Agostino / Angel Vargas. See and listen for yourself ! Thank you, Chris !

* * *
Imploring in desperation.

I beg you, dear musicians, do not try to play music of 40s which really requires outstanding abilities of musicians, arrangers, and directors. Do not try to be Piazzollas.

Be able to play simpler music of early 1920s and 1910s !! Get the right rhythm and feel on simpler examples !!! No fancy stuff, just tango ! Bam-Bam-Bam. Keep the rhythm and variations! Learn what creates this tension ( swing ), why razor-edged notes are so important, and more complex stuff like how performers exchange rhythmical lines. And it has to be danceable: it has to have "figures" inside. Once you are able to do it, and we say yes, it sounds almost like Arolas, then you may move.

In tango we learn: simple things done well are much better than loads of elements done wrong. It relates to you too.

You are at advantage in this historical period !!! It is definitely not other musicians you can learn from, but only old scratchy records on CDs. Available. Get interconnected with the giants ! You deserve it.

2008, August 4

Listen to these tango musicians ! Yes !


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