Building a Collection of Argentine Tango Music for Social Dancing


by Stephen and Susan Brown
© Copyright 2000-2013


tango cdsA comprehensive guide for getting started on building a collection of Argentine tango music for social dancing.

Introduction/Overview
Where to Buy
Getting Started in Building a Collection
    A Basic Collection (Annotated List)
    Expanding the Basic Collection (Annotated List)
    A Basic Collection on a Budget
Building a More Extensive Collection
    Principal Elements of a More Extensive Collection (Annotated List)
A Note on Fidelity
A Note on Changing Availability
Some of the Better Recordings
    The Old Guard—Firpo, Lomuto, Orquesta
        Tipica Victor, Carabelli, and Fresedo
    The Early Golden Age—Canaro, De Caro,
        and Donato
    Great Orchestras of the Golden Age—D' Arienzo,
        Di Sarli, Troilo, Pugliese, Biagi, Caló, Canaro,
        D' Agostino, De Angelis, Fresedo, Laurenz,
        and Tanturi
    Transition to New Tango
    New Tango
    Modern Tango Orquestas
    Neo-Tango Music
    Compilations
Recordings to Avoid
Some of Our Favorite Tango CDs (List)
Tango Montreal Top 25 (List)

bandoneon - back to top

Introduction/Overview

A person attempting to develop a collection of tango music faces two challenges: knowing which recordings are likely to be suitable for social dancing and finding a place to buy them. Most of the tango recordings available in U.S. music stores are not well suited for social dancing.  Mail ordering is often the best option.

In starting our collection of tango music for social dancing, we found the Tango Montreal website to be helpful.  Classics of Tango Dance Music and Mike Lavocah's recommendations at milonga.co.uk are other useful resources.  We also ask the DJs at milongas and practicas what they are playing when we hear something we particularly like. Our final guide has been our own ears, sense of rhythm, and the improving availability of recordings.

A purchaser can improve the odds of finding good dance music by watching for the four big names in tango social dance music: Juan D' Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli, Osvaldo Pugliese, and Anibal Troilo.  Their orchestras were among the most popular during the golden age of tango, and their music is still prominently featured at milongas in Buenos Aires.  A number of other orchestras from the golden age of tango—particularly those led by of Rodolfo Biagi, Miguel Caló, Francisco Canaro, Angel D' Agostino, Alfredo De Angelis, Pedro Laurenz, and Ricardo Tanturi—also produced music that is excellent for social dancing, and their music is still played at milongas in Buenos Aires.  The EMI Reliquias and Tango Argentino labels contain many of the best tangos recorded by the great orchestras of the golden age.

Some of the orchestras from the old guard that held sway prior to the golden age, such as Orquesta Tipica Victor and those led by Julio De Caro, Roberto Firpo, Osvaldo Fresedo, and Francisco Lomuto also produced excellent social dance music, but the available recordings are generally of lower fidelity.  Orchestras playing new tango, such as those led by Astor Piazzolla, Pablo Ziegler, and Juan-Jose Mosalini, typically recorded concert music that most tango dancers consider unsuitable for social dancing.  Orchestras recording during the transition from the golden age to new tango, such as those led José Basso, Carlos Garcia, Francini-Pontier, Alfredo Gobbi, and Horacio Salgan, played arrangements that ranged from concert music to social dance music.

There are a number of easy to find recordings that are probably best avoided when starting a collection of tango recordings for social dancing. Most prominent in this category are the recordings of Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzolla.  Although recordings by these artists are widely available and highly regarded for listening, they did not produce music intended for social dance.  Recordings for stage shows are also probably best avoided.  Although the music can be excellent and well recorded, most of the music is played at tempos that are too fast for social dancing.

bandoneon - back to top

Where to Buy

Despite a growing number of releases over the past few years, distribution remains limited, and availability is a constant issue in obtaining recordings of Argentine tango music suitable for dancing.  For purchases in the United States, keep your eyes open and visit lots of compact disc stores and be prepared to mail order.  Barnes and Noble bookstores occasionally have a few CDs of good tango music for social dancing—particularly on the Blue Moon and El Bandoneon and Harlequin labels—along with extensive stocks of tango music completely unsuitable for social dancing.  Some large local stores near universities also stock a fair number of tango recordings, some of which may be suitable for social dancing.

Of the dealers in the United States, TangoCD.com has the most extensive list of recordings.  Zival's Tango Store in Buenos Aires has the most extensive list of recordings and ships promptly.  Owing to the distance, Zival's shipping costs are high and are best spread across a big order.  In the United Kingdom, Mike Lavocah's milonga.co.uk, has an extensive list of available recordings.  In Germany, Danza y Movimiento has an extensive list of recordings.

bandoneon - back to top

Getting Started in Building a Collection

Most of the tango music used for social dance was recorded by the major orchestras that played during the golden age of tango, which extended from the late 1930s through the early 1950s.  Each of the major orchestras had a somewhat different sound.  One of the key elements of successfully building a collection is to obtain a core set of CDs that represents the diversity of these great orchestras with CDs that have well-recorded music that is suitable for dancing.  When starting a collection of of tango music for social dancing, our recommendation is to begin with the four great orchestras of the golden age—D' Arienzo, Di Sarli, Troilo and Pugliese. We also recommend expanding this collection with recording by some of the other major orchestras of the golden age, particularly Caló, Tanturi, DeAngelis, Laurenz and Biagi.

Recordings from other eras can be added later. The recordings of the old guard, which recorded prior to the golden era, are important historically, but the poor fidelity limits their usefulness for social dancing. Recordings of new tango or from the transition to new tango are of better fidelity than most recordings from the golden age, but most of the arrangements are less suitable for social dancing.

bandoneon - back to top

A Basic Collection

For a basic collection, we recommend one or two CDs from each of the four great orchestras. Taken together, the music of these four orchestras represent a good sampling of the variety of sounds that characterized the golden age.  For Juan D' Arienzo, the best CD to begin with is El Esquinazo 1937-1938 in the RCA series 70 Años.  Another excellent choice is Instrumental Vol 1 on the Solo Tango label.  Other possibilities are Sus Primeros Exitos vol. 1, or Sus Primeros Exitos vol. 2.  For Carlos Di Sarli, the best currently available CDs to begin with is Instrumental Vol. 1. on the Solo Tango label.  Alternatives are RCA Victor 100 Años or  Instrumental on the Tango Argentino label.  For Anibal Troilo, the best CDs for a basic collection are probably Instrumental, and Troilo/Fiorentino.  Some of the material found on these two CDs is available on Yo Soy El Tango (RCA) at slightly better fidelity, but the set of tracks is not compelling.  Some of the best material from the two CDs are available on El Inmortal Pichuco but at much lower fidelity.  For Osvaldo Pugliese, the best CD to begin a collection is Ausencia. If this Pugliese recording proves too difficult to find, Instrumentales Inolvidables would be a reasonable substitute.

  1. Juan D' Arienzo
        El Esquinazo 1937-1938 (RCA 70 Años - the best set of tracks in the best-sounding collection of D' Arienzo's classics
        Instrumental Vol. 1  (Solo Tango) - this CD has more of D' Arienzo's classic instrumentals than any other
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 1  (Tango Argentino) - many classic D' Arienzo tangos and a few milongas
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 2  (Tango Argentino) - many classic D' Arienzo tangos and a few milongas
  2. Carlos Di Sarli
        Instrumental Vol.1  (Solo Tango) - probably the best available CD of Di Sarli's instrumental tangos
        RCA Victor 100 Años  - many Di Sarli classics
        Instrumental  (Tango Argentino) - many classic Di Sarli instrumentals, but some tracks have too much reverb and processing
  3. Anibal Troilo
        Instrumental  (Tango Argentino) - his early rhythmic classics
        Troilo/Fiorentino  (Solo Tango) - with the great vocalist Francisco Fiorentino
        El Inmortal Pichuco  (El Bandoneon EBCD 1) - a lower fidelity alternative
        Yo Soy El Tango  (Troilo en RCA Victor) - some early instrumental classics and some vocals by Francisco Fiorentino
  4. Osvaldo Pugliese
        Ausencia  (EMI Odeon # 8 35886 2) - an outstanding collection with many of his best recordings
        Instrumentales Inolvidables  (EMI Reliquias) - many classic Pugliese instrumentals that are not found on Ausencia

bandoneon - back to top

Expanding the Basic Collection

To add depth to the basic collection, we recommend adding a few CDs by some of the other highly regarded orchestras of the golden age, particularly those led by Caló, DeAngelis, Laurenz, Biagi and Tanturi.  For Miguel Caló, the best CDs for a small collection are Al Compás del Corazon and Yo Soy El Tango. For Alfredo De Angelis, the best CD for a small collection is From Argentina to the World or Adiós Marinero. The former contains most De Angelis instrumental classics and his two best valses. The latter contains four great valses in addition to some excellent vocal tangos. For Pedro Laurenz, the CD Milonga a Mis Amores contains excellent valses and milongas in addition to some decent tangos. For Rodolfo Biagi, the best CD to expand a basic collection is Sus Exitos con Falgas y Ibanez (EMI Reliquias) or the somewhat lower fidelity Campo Afuera (El Bandoneon). For Ricardo Tanturi's Orchestra, the best choice would be with vocalist Alberto Castillo on the Solo Tango label, Tanturi/Castillo.  The other Tanturi/Castillo CDs have similar tracks; the El Bandoneon CD has noticeably lower fidelity.  Another great addition to any collection is the Carlos Di Sarli orchestra with vocalists Roberto Rufino, Sus Primeros Exitos vol. 1 or Jorge Duran, Porteño y Bailarin.

  5. Miguel Caló
        Al Compás del Corazon  (EMI Reliquias) - great valses, milongas and tangos with the great vocalist Raul Beron
        Yo Soy El Tango  (El Bandoneon EBCD 34) - the more rhythmic side of Caló
  6. Alfredo DeAngelis
        From Argentina to the World  (EMI) - includes his instrumental classics
        Adiós Marinero  (El Bandoneon) - includes several great valses
  7. Pedro Laurenz
        Milonga a Mis Amores  (El Bandoneon) - great milongas and valses
  8. Rodolfo Biagi
        Sus Exitos con Falgas y Ibanez  (EMI Reliquias) - perhaps the most essential Biagi CD
        Campo Afuera  (El Bandoneon EBCD 40) - a lower fidelity alternative
  9. Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo
        El Tango es el Tango  (Tango Argentino) - the Tanturi/Castillo CD with most classic tangos
        Tangos de mi Ciudad  (Tango Argentino) - some classic tangos and milongas
        Tanturi/Castillo  (Solo Tango) - great sound but fewer of the classics
        Cuatro Compases (El Bandoneon EBCD 48) - a lower fidelity alternative
10. Carlos Di Sarli with vocalists
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 1  (Tango Argentino) - with vocalist Roberto Rufino
        Porteño y Bailarin  (Tango Argentino) - with vocalist Jorge Duran

bandoneon - back to top

A Basic Collection on a Budget

The two-CD compilation, Pa' Que Bailen Los Muchachos on the Blue Moon label is an attractive alternative for someone who wants to start on a smaller budget. This compilation contains social dance music played by some of the major tango orchestras of the golden age. Many tracks are the classics of tango. Most tracks are from the golden age, but some are from the old guard, and some are from the transition to new tango.

Compilation — Pa' Que Bailen Los Muchachos  (Blue Moon BMT 001/002)

bandoneon - back to top

Building a More Extensive Collection

For purposes of developing a more extensive collection of tango music, we find useful to think of the music in a number of categories.  Because the recordings of the golden age that are suitable for social dancing are so extensive, we categorize them as early golden age, harder rhythmic, softer rhythmic, smooth, lyrical and dramatic.  Including the tangos of the old guard, transition era, new tango, modern tango orchestras, and tango fusion, as well as milongas and valses we obtain 13 categories with which to classify recordings.  Each category has a different sound, and numerous CDs are available in each category.
 

Style of MusicAbout the Style of MusicOrchestras
Old GuardThe tangos of the old guard generally had less complex arrangements and simpler rhythms in comparison to tangos played during golden age and later eras.Orquesta Tipica Victor, Carabelli, Firpo, Lomuto, Fresedo, etc.
Early Golden Age The tangos of the early golden age represent a transition from the old guard to the golden age of tango.  They have clear, simple rhythms but show signs of the stronger orchestration and lyricism that characterize golden age tangos.De Caro, Donato, early Canaro
Golden Age Harder RhythmicStrong ric-tic rhythms characterize the harder rhythmic tangos.  For the tangos in this style that have vocals, the singer stays relatively close to the orchestra's rhythm.D' Arienzo, Biagi, Rodriguez 
Golden Age Softer RhythmicLess pronounced ric-tic rhythms characterize the softer rhythmic tangos.  For the tangos in this style that have vocals, the singer stays relatively close to the orchestra's rhythm.early Troilo, some Troilo/Fiorentino, Tanturi/Castillo, Caló instrumentals, Caló/Podesta, Federico, Laurenz, D' Agostino/Vargas, early Di Sarli
Golden Age SmoothA strong, slow walking beat and the near elimination of the ric-tic rhythms characterize the smooth tangos.most Di Sarli instrumentals, some Canaro instrumentals, some Fresedo instrumentals, some Troilo instrumentals
Golden Age LyricalDuring the golden age, sometimes the singer sang with orchestra, sometimes the orchestra played for the singer.  When the orchestra played for the singer, the result was a lyrical tango in which the singers often departs from a close adherence to the orchestra's rhythm.  The overall effect is to emphasize the lyrical nature of the musicCaló/Beron, Di Sarli/Rufino, Di Sarli/Duran, some Troilo/Fiorentino, some Canaro with singers, Fresedo/Ray, Tanturi/Campos, Demare with singers, DeAngelis with singers
Golden Age DramaticThe tangos in this category have the most dramatic arrangements with more rubato playing, greater dissonance, stronger climaxes, and (sometimes) tempo shifts.DeAngelis instrumentals, Pugliese
Transition EraThe tangos in this category were recorded during an era in which orchestras were shifting from dance music to concert music, but have a few tracks with sufficiently strong dance beat for social dance.Sassone, Gobbi, Varela, Francini/Pontier, Garello
New TangoBuilding on the work of Anibal Troilo, Osvaldo Pugliese and Horacio Salgan, Astor Piazzolla led a revolution in concert-oriented tango music in which drama was heightened through rubato playing, pauses, and tempo changes.  The combined effect works well for tango dance performances, but can be outside the comfort zone for social dancing.   For social dancing, the most useful new-tango recordings combine some of Piazzolla's sensibilities with a tango dance beat that is sufficiently strong for modern ears.Piazzolla, New York Tango Trio, Litto Nebia, Trio Pantango
Modern Dance OrquestasSeveral modern tango orchestras have returned to the dance beat that characterized the golden era of tango dance music.  The recordings made by modern dance orchestras typically have more intricate arrangements with a little more of a dramatic concert feel than those made during the golden era, but the dance beat is prominent and the fidelity is much better than on the golden era recordings.Color Tango, El Arranque, Sexteto Sur
Tango FusionTango fusion integerates traditional tango rhythms and instrumentation with other musical traditions, contemporary instruments and electronica to create a modern and culturally relevant world tango music with a dance-club sound.Gotan Project, Bajofondo Tango Club, Carlos Libedinsky
MilongasMilonga is a faster-paced dance music with a relentless driving rhythm from which tango music developed.Canaro, D' Arienzo, Troilo, Tanturi, Caló, Di Sarli, Pugliese, Biagi, Laurenz
ValsesVals music is based on the classic 1-2-3 waltz rhythm but is played at a much faster tempo than characterizes ballroom or Viennese waltz music.Canaro, D' Arienzo, Biagi, Troilo, Tanturi, Caló, Di Sarli, DeAngeles, Laurenz

bandoneon - back to top

Principal Elements of a More Extensive Collection

Our strategty for building an extensive collection of tango music for social dancing is to rely principally on those CDs that contain many classics and well represent the variety of tangos, milongas and valses from the golden age.  Selective additions of old guard and post golden-era recordings, as well as CDs with a limited number of useful tracks round out a more extensive collection.

Old Guard  (For a discussion of the recordings see Old Guard below.)
    Orquesta Tipica Victor
        1926-1940  (El Bandoneon EBCD 85)
        RCA Victor 100 Años - suprisingly good fidelity
    Roberto Firpo
        Milonga Orillera  (El Bandoneon EBCD 75) - a classic celebration of the old guard sound

Early Golden Age  (For a discussion of the recordings see Early Golden Age below.)
    Francisco Canaro
        La Melodia de Nuestro Adios  (El Bandoneon) - some great tangos and valses
        40 Grandes Exitos  (Las Grandes Orquestas del Tango Blue Moon) - some great milongas and valses and some good tangos

Golden Age Harder Rhythmic
    Juan D' Arienzo  (For a discussion of the recordings see Juan D' Arienzo below.)
        El Esquinazo 1937-1938 (RCA 70 Años) - the best set of tracks in the best-sounding collection of D' Arienzo's classics
        De Pura Cepa 1935-1936 (RCA 70 Años) - the first disc in the best-sounding collection of D' Arienzo classics
        Instrumental Vol. 1  (Solo Tango) - this CD has more of D' Arienzo's classic instrumentals than any other
        Grandes del Tango Vol. 1 (Instrumental)/5 (Lantower) - an attractive disc with coverag to fill in holes
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 1  (Tango Argentino) - many classic D' Arienzo tangos and a few milongas
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 2  (Tango Argentino) - many classic D' Arienzo tangos and a few milongas
    Rodolfo Biagi  (For a discussion of the recordings see Rodolfo Biagi below.)
        Sus Exitos con Falgas y Ibanez  (EMI Reliquias) - perhaps the most essential Biagi CD
        Sus Exitos con Jorge Ortiz - some great tangos and a great vals
        Sus Exitos con Jorge Ortiz, Vol. 2 - some good tangos and great valses
        Sus Exitos con Alberto Amor  (EMI Reliquias) - hard edged rhythm with vocals that have a romantic touch
        Campo Afuera  (El Bandoneon EBCD 40) - a lower fidelity alternative with good milongas
    Enrique Rodriguez  (For a discussion of the recordings see Enrique Rodriguez below.)
        y Su Orquesta Tipica  (El Bandoneon) - most of the Rodriguez classics

Golden Age Softer Rhythmic
    Anibal Troilo  (For a discussion of the recordings see Anibal Troilo below.)
        Yo Soy El Tango  (Troilo en RCA Victor)
        Instrumental  (Tango Argentino)
        Troilo/Fiorentino  (Solo Tango)
    Miguel Caló  (For a discussion of the recordings see Miguel Caló below.)
        Yo Soy El Tango  (El Bandoneon EBCD 34) - some of Caló's best music, but of uneven fidelity
        y Su Orquesta de Estrellas  (El Bandoneon EBCD 92) - some of Caló's best music, but repeats tracks on other CDs
    Pedro Laurenz  (For a discussion of the recordings see Pedro Laurenz below.)
        Milonga a Mis Amores  (El Bandoneon) - great valses and milongas
    Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo  (For a discussion of the recordings see Ricardo Tanturi below.)
        El Tango es el Tango  (Tango Argentino) - the Tanturi/Castillo CD with most classic tangos
        Tangos de mi Ciudad  (Tango Argentino) - some classic tangos and milongas
        Tanturi/Castillo  (Solo Tango) - great sound but fewer of the classics
        Cuatro Compases (El Bandoneon EBCD 48) - a lower fidelity alternative
    Angel D' Agostino and Angel Vargas  (For a discussion of the recording, see Angel D' Agostino below.)
        Tangos de Los Angeles, Vol. 2  (Tango Argentino) - one of the great pairings of an orchestra and vocalist
        Tangos de Los Angeles, Vol. 4  (Tango Argentino) - one of the great pairings of an orchestra and vocalist

Golden Age Smooth
    Carlos Di Sarli  (For a discussion of the recordings see Carlos Di Sarli below.)
        Instrumental, vol.1  (Solo Tango) - probably the best available CD of DiSarli's instrumental tangos
        RCA Victor 100 Años - many Di Sarli classics
        Instrumental  (Tango Argentino) - many classic Di Sarli instrumentals, but with a strange overlay of reverb

Golden Age Lyrical
    Miguel Caló  (For a discussion of the recordings see Miguel Caló below.)
        Al Compás del Corazon  (EMI Reliquias) - great valses, milongas and tangos with the great vocalist Raul Beron
        y Su Orquesta de Estrellas  (El Bandoneon EBCD 92) - some of Caló's best music, but repeats tracks on other CDs
     Carlos Di Sarli  (For a discussion of the recordings see Carlos Di Sarli below.)
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 1  (Tango Argentino) - with vocalist Roberto Rufino
        Porteño y Bailarin  (Tango Argentino) - with vocalist Jorge Duran
    Anibal Troilo  (For a discussion of the recordings see Anibal Troilo below.)
        Troilo/Fiorentino  (Solo Tango) - with the great vocalist Francisco Fiorentino
        Troilo/Fiorentino vol. 2 (Solo Tango) - more with the great vocalist Francisco Fiorentino
    Osvaldo Fresedo con Roberto Ray  (For a discussion of the recordings see Osvaldo Fresedo below.)
        Tangos de Salon (Tango Argentino) - with the vocalist Roberto Ray
    Ricardo Tanturi con Enrique Campos  (For a discussion of the recordings see Ricardo Tanturi below.)
        Una Emoción (Tango Argentino) - with the vocalist Enrique Campos
    Francisco Canaro
        Desde el Alma  (EMI Reliquias) - some great tangos and a great vals

Golden Age Dramatic
    Osvaldo Pugliese  (For a discussion of the recordings see Osvaldo Pugliese below.)
        Ausencia  (EMI Odeon # 8 35886 2) - an outstanding collection with many of his best recordings
        Instrumentales Inolvidables  (EMI Reliquias) - many classic Pugliese instrumentals that are not found on Ausencia
        Instrumentales Inolvidables, Vol. 3  (EMI Reliquias) - great dramatic transition era music
        From Argentina to the World  (EMI) - great dramatic transition era music
    Alfredo DeAngelis  (For a discussion of the recordings see Alfredo De Angelis below.)
        From Argentina to the World  (EMI) - includes many of his instrumental classics including Pavadita
        Instrumentales Inolvidables (EMI Reliquias) - many of his instrumental classics including Pavadita
        Adiós Marinero  (El Bandoneon) - includes several great valses

Transition Era  (For a discussion of the recordings, see Transition to New Tango below.)
CDs with the music of transition-era orchestras typically only have one or two tracks that we consider outstanding for social dancing.  A number of dancers like the music of Alfredo Gobbi and Florindo Sassone.  Others may consider the rhythms a bit complex or too indistinct.
    Alfredo Gobbi
        Instrumentales Inolvidables (Tango Argentino) - this CD has a number of tracks that are considered classics.
    Florindo Sassone
        Bien Milonguero Vol. 1  (EMI Reliquias) - more than several tracks on this CD are considered classics.

New Tango  (For a discussion of the recordings see New Tango below.)
CDs with the music of orchestras playing new tango typically only have a few tracks that we consider outstanding for social dancing.  Consequently, we have no specific recommendations in this category, even though we like a number of the available recordings.

Modern Tango Orquestas  (For a discussion of the recordings see Modern Tango Orquestas below.)
    Color Tango
        Con Estilo Para Bailar  (Techno Disc) - derivative of the Pugliese sound with greater fidelity
        Con Estilo Para Bailar, vol. 2  (Techno Disc) - derivative of the Pugliese sound with greater fidelity
        Con Estilo Para Bailar, vol. 3  (private label) - derivative of the Pugliese sound with greater fidelity
    El Arranque
        Tango  (Vaiven) - derivative of the Pugliese sound with greater fidelity

Tango Fusion  (For a discussion of the recordings, see Neo-Tango Music below.)
    Carlos Libedinsky
        Narcotango
    Gotan Project
        La Revancha del Tango
    Bajofondo Tango Club
        Bajofondo Tango Club

Compilations  (For a discussion of the recordings see Compilations below.)
    Pa' Que Bailen Los Muchachos  (Blue Moon BMT 001/002)
    Los 100 Mejores Tangos, Milongas y Valses del Milenio, Vol. 3  (El Bandoneon 303) - milongas
    Los 100 Mejores Tangos, Milongas y Valses del Milenio, Vol. 4  (El Bandoneon 304) - valses
    Valses Inolvidables  (EMI Reliquias) - valses

bandoneon - back to top

A Note on Fidelity

Fidelity is a major issue facing someone building a collection of tango music for social dance.  The recording technology during the golden era was somewhat limited, and the quality of the restoration varies considerably across labels.  For most of the material, we generally rate the sound quality on the major labels reissuing tango music from the golden age as follows (starting with the best):

1.  RCA Victor 100 Años and other special RCA releases (limited titles)
2.  Solo Tango/FM Tango (limited titles)
3.  RCA, EMI, EMI Reliquias, Euro
4.  Lantower, Tango Argentino
5.  Music Hall, Danza y Movimiento (limited titles)
6.  Blue Moon, El Bandoneon
7.  Magenta, Harlequin, Club Tango Argentino

bandoneon - back to top

A Note on Changing Availability

Over the past ten years, the availability of recordings of Argentine tango music for social dancing has generally improved as the number of tango dancers has increased.  Some CDs and labels have gone out of production, only to be replaced by others.  EMI sharply reduced its tango catalog.  The EMI Pampa, Music Hall and FM Tango labels discontinued production.  The Solo Tango label has released many of the CDs once available on the FM Tango label.  A few years ago The EMI Reliquias and Tango Argentino labels picked up much of the slack by issuing material licensed from EMI and RCA, respectively.  More recently, RCA has been  releasing much of the material from its vaults in special collections with impressive sound quality.  The Lantower, Blue Moon and El Bandoneon labels also contributed with growing catalogs of vintage recordings from the golden age and earlier.

bandoneon - back to top

Some of the Better Recordings

Below are our descriptions and assessments of some of the better recordings for social dancing.  We concentrate on the classics of tango dance music and other recordings that have caught our attention, making no attempt to create a comprehensive listing of tango recordings.  Information is organized by style/epoch: Old Guard, Golden Age, Transition to New Tango, New Tango, Neo-Tango and Compilations.

 * indicates CDs listed in the basic and/or extended collection
 ½ indicates a half or less of the songs on each disc are suitable for dancing.
 ¼ indicates a fourth or less of the songs on each disc are suitable for dancing.

bandoneon - back to top

The Old Guard—Orquesta Tipica Victor, Carabelli, Lomuto, Firpo, and Fresedo

After it achieved acceptability in Europe, tango dancing became a popular social event among middle- and upper-class porteños (citizens of Buenos Aires) during the 1920s and 1930s. Most of the music from the era is relatively simple rhythmically, which makes it somewhat easier to hear and learn the rhythm of the music.

Orquesta Tipica Victor was a studio orchestra led by Adolfo Carabelli and made up of some of the finest tango musicians of the day. It was one of the first old guard orchestras to adopt the 4x4 style of the golden age of tango.

*Orquesta Tipica Victor — 1926-1940 (El Bandoneon EBCD 85)
This CD contains a classic set of instrumental tracks with strong rhythms for dancing.  On some versions of the CD, the tracks are completely mislabled.  The correct listing is Negro, Retintin, Pato, Hilos de Plata, La Payanca, Puente Alsina, Chuzasos, Re Fa Si, De Mi Barrio, Fumando Espero, Julienne, Adios Muchachos, Carta Brava, Che Papusi Oi, Ensueño, Domino, Viento Norte, Cardos, Como Tigre Cebao, and Tango Milonguero.

*Orquesta Tipica Victor — RCA Victor 100 Años
This surprisingly well-recorded CD contains a classic set of intrumental tracks with strong rhythms for dancing.

Adolfo Carabelli was the leader and pianist of Orquesta Tipica Victor.  He later led a studio orchestra indentified by his own name.

Adolfo Carabelli — Cuatro Palabras (El Bandoneon EBCD 87)
This CD contains fantastic vocal music with great rhythm for dancing.

Francisco Lomuto led one of the better tango orchestras of the 1930s.  Many well-known tango musicians apprenticed in his orchestra.

Francisco "Pancho" Lomuto — y Su Orquesta Tipica (El Bandoneon EBCD 09)

Roberto Firpo led orchestras during the 1930s and 40s, but he retained the classic 2x4 sound of the old guard.

*Roberto Firpo — Milonga Orillera (El Bandoneon EBCD 75)
This CD is a classic celebration of the Old Guard rhythm.

Roberto Firpo — Sentimiento Criolllo  (El Bandoneon)
More classics with Old Guard Rhythm

Roberto Firpo — De la Guardia Vieja (EMI Reliquias)
This CD contains a classic set of tracks in 2x4 rhythm along with several valses.

Osvaldo Fresedo was an innovator who led one of the great tango orchestras during from the 1920s into the 1950s. His playing bridged eras from the old guard through the golden age and into the concert era.  His old guard sound presaged the early golden age, and many musicians apprenticed in his orchestra.  Unfortunately, the album most representative of Fresedo's old guard instrumental sound, Tigre Viejo, is not currently available on CD.

*Osvaldo Fresedo — Serie de Oro (Sonido)
Many instrumental classics with Fresedo's old guard sound.

*Osvaldo Fresedo con Roberto Ray — Tangos de Salon (Tango Argentino)
A CD of incredible vocal music that is lyrical, softly romantic and at the same time rhythmic.  The tracks should be classified as old guard, but they play as wonderfully lyrical.

Osvaldo Fresedo — 40 Grandes Exitos  (Las Grandes Orquestas del Tango BMT)
This CD contains instrumental and vocal tracks primarily from early incarnations of Fresedo's orchestra, but it opens with "El Once" which epitomizes Fresedo's smooth golden era style.

Los Tubatango is a modern-era orchestra that plays in an old-guard style.  Their use of a tuba in place of the bass creates a unique sound.

Los Tubatango — Una Noche de Garufa  (Music Hall  10044-2)
The music on this CD has a steady beat that is a bit on the fast side.  For dancing, we like to play one or two on occasion, but most dancers do not want to hear Los Tubatango regularly.  (This novelty CD is discontinued, but still may be available through some vendors.)

bandoneon - back to top

Orchestras of the Early Golden Age—Canaro, De Caro, and Donato

The orchestras of the early golden age helped create a a transition from the old guard to the golden age of tango.  Their music has clear, simple rhythms but show signs of the stronger orchestration and lyricism that characterize golden age tangos.

Francisco Canaro had a career that spanned many decades, and his orchestra was one of the most recorded.  Much of his recorded music is in the classic salon style of the 1940s, but he is also considered a member of the old guard, and some of his later recordings contributed to the transition to concert tango.  For our tastes, his early golden age recordings are the best.  Some of his later recordings have a glossy pop sound that quickly grows tiresome.

*Francisco Canaro — La Melodia de Nuestra Adios (El Bandoneon EBCD 30)
This CD contains older recordings of great music that has a slow, simple and clear beat for dancing.  It contains tangos that are among the best for learning the walking rhythm of tango along with many valses.

*Francisco Canaro — 40 Grandes Exitos  (Las Grandes Orquestas del Tango Blue Moon)
This double CD contains many of classics from the early part of Canaro's career, as well as a few from the golden age.  Many tracks have a slow, simple and clear beat.

Francisco Canaro — Tangos  (EPM 995322)
This CD contains older, historic recordings from the 1920s, and the sound quality varies.  (discontinued)

See Canaro's golden age recordings below.

Julio De Caro.  Sometimes considered a member of the old guard, Julio De Caro was an innovator who helped develop the 4x4 sound prominent during the golden age of tango.  His arranging inspired Osvaldo Pugliese, Anibal Troilo and Astor Piazzolla.  His recording are of greater historical interest than they are for dancing.

Julio De Caro — Las Grandes Orquestas del Tango (Blue Moon 604)
This two CD set has many De Caro classics and is of much better fidelity than some other De Caro recordings.

Edgardo Donato was an innovator that helped create the transition to the golden age of tango.

Edgardo Donato — y Su Muchachos 1932 - 1939  (El Bandoneon)
A classic set of Donato tracks.

Edgardo Donato — A Media Luz  (El Bandoneon)

bandoneon - back to top

Orchestras of the Golden Age—D' Arienzo, Di Sarli, Pugliese, Troilo, Biagi, Caló, Canaro, D' Agostino. De Angelis, Demare, Fresedo, Laurenz and Tanturi

The great orchestras of the golden age of tango produced most of the music that is played for social dancing today.  During the golden age of tango, the most popular orchestras were led by Juan D' Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli, Osvaldo Pugliese, and Anibal Troilo, and their music is still prominently featured at milongas in Buenos Aires.  A number of other great orchestras from the golden age of tango—like those led by of Rodolfo Biagi, Miguel Caló, Francisco Canaro, Angel D' Agostino, Alfredo De Angelis, Lucio Demare, Pedro Laurenz, Enrique Rodriquez, and Ricardo Tanturi—also produced music that is excellent for social dancing, and their music is still played at milongas in Buenos Aires.

Juan D' Arienzo
Carlos Di Sarli
Anibal Troilo
Osvaldo Pugliese
Rodolfo Biagi
Miguel Caló
Francisco Canaro
Angel D' Agostino
Alfredo De Angelis
Lucio Demare
Osvaldo Fresedo
Pedro Laurenz
Enrique Rodriquez
Ricardo Tanturi

bandoneon - back to top

Juan D' Arienzo was known as "El Rey del Compas" (King of the Beat).  Departing from other orchestras of the golden age, D' Arienzo returned to the 2x4 feel that characterized music of the old guard, but he used more modern arrangements and instrumentation.  His popular group produced hundreds of recordings.  His music is played often at milongas in Buenos Aires, and the instrumentals are the classic harder rhythmic tangos with a strong staccato dance rhythm.  He also recorded many great milongas and fast valses.  (For those interested in developing an extensive collection of D' Arienzo's recordings, a large catalog of RCA releases is now available as the 70 Años series.)

*Juan D' Arienzo — De Pura Cepa 1935-1936 (RCA 70 Años)
Many D' Arienzo's older classics are found on the first disc of the best-sounding collection of his recordings.

*Juan D' Arienzo — El Esquinazo 1937-1938 (RCA 70 Años)
The best set of tracks on the best-sounding collection of D' Arienzo recordings

Juan D' Arienzo — El Rey del Compas 1941-1943 (RCA 70 Años)
A good source for the classic D' Arienzo/Maure pairing.

*Juan D' Arienzo — Instrumental Vol. 1 (Solo Tango)
This CD has more of D' Arienzo's classic instrumentals than any other.  It includes El Flete, Felicia, Don Juan, Indepencia, El Irresistible, El Internado, El Enterriano, Jueves, La Puñalada and La Cumparsita.

*Juan D' Arienzo — Grandes del Tango Vol. 1 (Instrumental)/5 (Lantower)
A very good ollection of tracks with considerable overlap with other CDs, but an unbeatable source for some tracks.

*Juan D' Arienzo — Grandes del Tango Vol. 2 (Con Sus Cantores)/6 (Lantower)
A very good ollection of D' Arienzo vocal tracks but considerable overlap with the better-sounding RCA 70 Años series.  An unbeatable source for some tracks.

*Juan D' Arienzo — Sus Primeros Exitos vol. 1 (Tango Argentino)
This CD is one of a two CD set that contains many of D' Arienzo's most famous instrumental recordings.

*Juan D' Arienzo — Sus Primeros Exitos vol. 2 (Tango Argentino)
This CD is one of a two CD set that contains many of D' Arienzo's most famous instrumental recordings.

Juan D' Arienzo/Alberto Echuage — Joyas del Lunfardo  (Tango Argentino)
A classic set of vocal tracks with great rhythm for dancing.

Juan D' Arienzo — El Rey del Compas  (El Bandoneon EBCD 43)
This lower-fideltiy CD contains older tracks with a very clear, steady beat for dancing.

Juan D' Arienzo — La Cumparsita (El Bandoneon EBCD 84)
This loer fidelity CD contains an older set of tracks with a very clear, steady beat for dancing.

Juan D' Arienzo — La Puñalada (Blue Moon 011)
This lower fidelity CD contains tracks from the early 1950s with slower rhythms than is typical of D' Arienzo, and it is excellent for dancing.

Juan D' Arienzo — Cambalache (El Bandoneon EBCD 109)
Most of the tracks on this CD are great for dancing.  About half contain vocals by the great Alberto Echague.  Some of the tracks with Echague have a bit softer rhythm than is typical of D' Arienzo.

Juan D' Arienzo — Tangos Orilleros (Tango Argentino)
This CD features the vocals of Mario Bustos, who sang in a compelling rhythmic style.  Some people find the pairing a little too schmaltzy.

Juan D' Arienzo — Tangos Para El Mundo (Tango Argentino)
Imported from Argentina, this CD captures some of the D' Arienzo orchestra's later recordings, after it shifted toward concert music.  Many tracks are suitable for dancing and fidelity is great.  This CD contains a great stereo recording of La Cumparsita.

Juan D' Arienzo — Tangos Para El Mundo, vol. 2 (Tango Argentino)
Imported from Argentina, this CD captures some of the D' Arienzo orchestra's later recordings, after it shifted toward concert music.  Many tracks are suitable for dancing and fidelity is great.  This CD contains a great stereo recording of La Puñalada.

Orquesta Juan D' Arienzo — La Cumparsita  (Phillips 832 799-2)
On this recent high-quality recording, the orchestra is led by a former D' Arienzo side man.  The orchestra plays in D' Arienzo's style but takes many of the songs at a bit faster tempo.  (likely discontinued)

Los Solistas de D' Arienzo — Lo Mejor de  (Music Hall)
This CD contains a relatively recent set of recordings of classic tangos played in D' Arienzo's style. The music does not have quite the playful energy of authentic D' Arienzo recordings, but the recording is of much higher fidelity.  (discontinued)

bandoneon - back to top

Carlos Di Sarli developed smooth, clean-sounding, powerful arrangements which his orchestra played the walking beat of salon tango. His music is widely used by beginning dancers for practice and is played with regularity in milongas. His instrumental numbers are the most well known, but some of his recordings with vocalists are also among the classics of lyrical tango.  He also recorded interesting milongas and valses.  The first three CDs listed have similar track listings.

*Carlos Di Sarli — Solo Tango: Instrumental Vol.1  (Solo Tango)
Previously released as de FM Tango para Usted: Instrumental vol. 1, this CD has a classic set of instrumental tracks with a slow, clear beat for dancing.  This is probably the best available CD of DiSarli's instrumentals.

*Carlos Di Sarli — RCA Victor 100 Años
A mostly instrumental CD with a classic set of tracks that have a slow, clear beat for dancing.  The tracks have a very clear sound, but some are recorded with decidedly bright sound that is quite apparent in high-quality stereo equipment.  The CDs Solo Tango: Instrumental Vol 1 and Lo Mejor de Carlos Di Sarli have similar track listings.

*Carlos Di Sarli — Instrumental (Tango Argentino)
Originally recorded in the 1950s, some of the tracks on this CD have too much reverb and processing, but the music is classic Di Sarli with a slow, clear beat excellent for dancing.  The CDs Solo Tango: Instrumental Vol 1 and Lo Mejor de Carlos Di Sarli Milonguero Viejo have similar track listings and much better sound quality.

*Carlos Di Sarli/Roberto Rufino — Sus Primeros Exitos Vol.1  (Tango Argentino)
A well-recorded disc with an outstanding set of classic vocal tracks that have wonderful lyrical quality and a slow, clear beat that is excellent for dancing.

*Carlos Di Sarli/Jorge Duran — Porteño y Bailarín (Tango Argentino)
Some classic vocal tracks with a slow, clear beat excellent for dancing and that are well recorded.

Carlos Di Sarli — Milonguero Viejo  (Music Hall 10018-2)
Our favorite Di Sarli CD, this disc contains fantastic music with a slow, clear beat desirable for dancing.  (Would be among our recommendations if not discontinued)

Carlos Di Sarli — Instrumental vol. 2 (Tango Argentino)
In the early 1940s, Di Sarli played in a much quicker soft rhythmic style.  Of the tango music he recorded in the early 1940s, this CD contains 20 tracks that are regarded as among the best for social dancing.

Carlos Di Sarli — Lo Mejor de Carlos Di Sarli  (Music Hall 246509)
This is an all instrumental CD with a slow, clear beat for dancing.  Some versions of the CD list only 12 of the 14 tracks.  The correct listing of tracks is A la Gran Muñeca, Milonguero Viejo, Recodo, El Choclo, La Cachila, Bar Exposicion, El Incendio, Don Juan, El Pollito, Quejas de Bandoneon, Didi, Marianito, Re Fa Si, and Los 33 Orientales.  (Discontinued)

Carlos Di Sarli — Bahia Blanca (Polydor)
This long discontinued CD contains 14 tracks from the 1958 Philips session.  The five instrumental tracks are considered classics: Bahia Blanca, Champagne Tango, Indio Manso, El Abrojo and Una Fija.  The movie soundtrack for the Tango Lesson contains the 1958 version of Bahia Blanca.  The other four instrumental tracks are on the Susana Miller CD #1.

Carlos Di Sarli — El Señor del Tango  (El Bandoneon EBCD 38)
This disc contains many tracks with a slow, clear beat excellent for dancing.  Many tracks include vocals.  The sound quality is a bit muddy.

Carlos Di Sarli — La Gran Muñeca   (Blue Moon 003)
This CD is typical Di Sarli with a slow, clear beat excellent for dancing. Many tracks include vocals.  The sound quality is a bit muddy.

bandoneon - back to top

Aníbal Troilo was the bandoneon player who defined the instrument for his generation.  His orchestra was among the most preferred by social dancers during the golden age, but he shifted to an intellectualized concert sound by the 1950s.  The Troilo orchestra is best known for its instrumentals, but it also recorded with many vocalists.  The Troilo orchestra recorded tangos with softer-rhythmic, smooth, lyrical and transition era sounds.  The softer-rhythmic instrumentals and the recordings with vocalist Francisco Fiorentino are the most well regarded for social dancing.

For those interested in developing an extensive collection of Troilo's recordings, a catalog of 26 CDs is now available in the series Troilo en RCA Victor.  These releases have somewhat better fidelity than their predecessors.  Using the Troilo en RCA Victor catalog for coverage of Troilo's dance classics requires purchasing more CDs.  For instance, the dance classics that are pulled together on Instrumental and the two Troilo/Fiorentino CDs are spread out over the first five CDs of the Troilo en RCA Victor series.  The reward is a little bit better sound quality and a more extensive collection of Troilo's music.

*Anibal Troilo — Instrumental (Tango Argentino)
This CD contains a classic set of instrumental tracks in the softer rhythmic style from one of the great masters of the bandoneon.

*Anibal Troilo con Francisco Fiorentino—Troilo/Fiorentino (Solo Tango)
Francisco Fiorentino with the Anibal Troilo Orquesta is one of the classic matches of singer with a tango orchestra.  They recorded in both a softer rhythmic style and a lyrical style.  This CD is very well recorded and contains many of the songs for which the pairing is known, including the classic Malena.

*Anibal Troilo con Francisco Fiorentino—Troilo/Fiorentino vol. 2 (Solo Tango)
More from this great pairing with a greater emphasis on the lyrical sound.

*Anibal Troilo — Yo Soy El Tango  (Troilo en RCA Victor)
This CD has some of Troilo's early classic instrumentals and some of his more rhythmic recordings with the great singer Francisco Fiorentino.  This CD is a good introduction for someone who wants an introduction to some of Troilo's early classics.  It is also the first disc in the 26 disc series Troilo en RCA Victor.

Anibal Troilo—El Inmortal Pichuco  (El Bandoneon EBCD 1)
This CD features excellent softer-rhythmic tangos with a clear beat for dancing.  It contains instrumentals and vocal tracks that are among the most frequently played for social dancing in Buenos Aires.  Most of the tracks on this CD duplicate those found on either Instrumental or Troilo/Fiorentino but with considerably lower fidelity.

Anibal Troilo—Quejas de Bandoneon (El Bandoneon EBCD 67)
This CD is one of many different Troilo CDs that are titled Quejas de Bandoneon.  It contains some classic smooth instrumentals that are frequently played for social dancing in Buenos Aires.  Most tracks are marred by a muddy sound.

Anibal Troilo con Francisco Fiorentino—Del Tiempo Guapo (El Bandoneon EBCD 47)
This CD contains the vocal classic "Malena" but most tracks are marred by a muddy sound

Anibal Troilo—Sus Ultimos Instrumentales (Tango Argentino)
This CD contains a classic set of instrumental tracks recorded during the transition era by one of the great masters of the bandoneon.

bandoneon - back to top

Osvaldo Pugliese developed dramatic arrangements that retained strong elements of the walking beat of salon tango but also heralded the development of concert-style tango music. Some of his music is used for theatrical dance performances. In Buenos Aires, Pugliese is often played later in the evening when the dancers want to dance more slowly, impressionistically and intimately. Pugliese is a great choice for slower dance music, but the arrangements can be a bit more rhythmically challenging than those played by other orchestras.

*Osvaldo Pugliese — Ausencia (EMI Odeon # 8 35886 2)
This CD contains so many classics from Pugliese's career that if we could have only one CD of tango music, we would pick this one.  It also contains the wonderful vals Desde el Alma.

*Osvaldo Pugliese — Instrumentales Inolvidables  (EMI Reliquias)
A CD with many of Pugliese's most highly regarded instrumentals.

Osvaldo Pugliese — Instrumentales Inolvidables, Vol. 2  (EMI Reliquias)
A CD with more of Pugliese's dance instrumentals, but most tracks are not quite as memorable as those found on volumes 1 and 3.

*Osvaldo Pugliese — Instrumentales Inolvidables, Vol. 3  (EMI Reliquias)
This CD contains Gallo Ciego, Pata Ancha and a number of other outstanding instrumentals that the Pugliese orchestra recorded in its transition from dance orchestra to concert orchestra.  Many would be suitable for late-evening dancing.

*Osvaldo Pugliese — From Argentina to the World (EMI)
This CD contains contains a number of instrumental tracks that the Pugliese orchestra recorded in its transition to concert orchestra.  About half of the tangos are outstanding reperesentations of dramatic tango music that challenges dancers.  The others are better suited for listening.

Osvaldo Pugliese — De Caro por Pugliese  (EMI Pampa)
This CD contains outstanding music without the throbbing beat and dramatic pauses than is typifies much of Pugliese's work.  Some casual listeners might not recognize the recordings as Pugliese.  (It would be a recommended purchase if it had not been discontinued.)

Osvaldo Pugliese — Recuerdo  (El Bandoneon EBCD 71)
This CD contains many well-regarded tracks, but most are of limited fidelity.

Osvaldo Pugliese — La Yumba (Blue Moon BMT 10)
This CD contains some classic tracks from one of the great masters of tango, but it is dominated by other offerings.

Osvaldo Pugliese — Coleccion  (EMI)
Imported from Argentina, this CD contains many tracks excellent for dancing, but it is dominated by other offerings.

¼ Osvaldo Pugliese — y Su Orquesta Tipica (El Bandoneon  EBCD 5)
This poorly recorded disc is dominated by other Pugliese CDs.

bandoneon - back to top

Rodolfo Biagi was the pianist in Juan D' Arienzo's orchestra during its most popular period and helped create the rhythmic drive that characterized D' Arienzo's sound .  Leading his own orchestra, Biagi kept the harder rhythmic style and added striking rhythmic elements to the music.  Biagi's music is particularly popular with those who dance the close-embrace styles of tango.  Biagi also recorded some of the very best valses.

*Rodolfo Biagi — Sus Exitos con Andres Falgas y Teofilo Ibanez (EMI Reliquias)
This disc contains nearly all vocal music recorded with two of Biagi’s great singers.  It also contains the classic instrumental "Union Civica."

*Rodolfo Biagi — Campo Afuera  (El Bandoneon EBCD 40)
The tracks on this CD exhibit strong 2x4 rhythms highly valued by practitioners of milonguero-style tango. It also contains some excellent milongas.

*Rodolfo Biagi — Sus Exitos con Alberto Amor (EMI Reliquias)
The tracks on this CD are all vocal music that show the more sensual and romantic side of the Biagi orchestra.  Includes the great vals "Paloma."

*Rodolfo Biagi — Sus Exitos con Jorge Ortiz (EMI Reliquias)
This disc contains nearly all vocal music with some very popular tangos, as well as an excellent instrumental vals, "Lagrimas y Sonrisas."

*Rodolfo Biagi — Sus Exitos con Jorge Ortiz vol 2. (EMI Reliquias)
This disc contains nearly all vocal music with some very popular tangos, as well as an excellent instrumental tango, "Racing Club."

Rodolfo Biagi — Racing Club (EMI Pampa)
This CD is a classic, and would be the one Biagi CD to have if it were not out of production and very difficult to find.  (discontinued)

bandoneon - back to top

Miguel Caló led an orchestra that became known as "the orchestra of the stars" because it was one of the best ensembles of tango musicians ever assembled. Osmar Maderna, Domingo Federico, Enrique Francini, and Armando Pontier all played together in the Caló orchestra and then fanned out to form three new and respected tango orchestras.  Many experienced tango dancers love to dance to the music recorded by the Caló orchestra because it played with a wonderfully romantic feel without being too sweet while maintaining a good solid rhythm for dancing.  Dancers enjoy the instrumentals, as well as the vocal tracks sung by nearly every singer who recorded with the orchestra.  Caló recorded many great valses and milongas, as well as tangos in the softer rhythmic and lyrical styles.  Watch for overlap between some of the listed CDs.

*Miguel Caló — Al Compás del Corazon (EMI "Reliquias")
This disc contains tango music so unbelievably romantic, it seduces both you and your dance partner.  It also has an incredible vals and two great milongas.  All the tracks feature the great Raul Beron on vocals.  If we could have only two CDs of tango music, this would be one of them.

*Miguel Caló — Yo Soy el Tango  (El Bandoneon EBCD 34)
This CD contains tracks that have a simple and clear beat for dancing.  It is contains some classic vocals sung by the great Alberto Podestá and is one of the best choices in tango music, as well as for learning the walking rhythm of tango.  The CD contains some great valses.

*Miguel Caló — y Su Orquesta de Estrellas  (El Bandoneon EBCD 92)
This disc contains some of Caló's best music, but it repeats many tracks found on the EMI and EMI Reliquias discs, and with slightly lower fidelity.

*Miguel Caló — Sus Exitos con Alberto Podesta, Jorge Ortiz y Raul Beron (EMI Reliquias)
Some overlap with Yo Soy el Tango, but of greater fidelity.  The CD has some great valses.

Miguel Caló — Sus exitos con Raul Iriarte (EMI Reliquias)
This disc features Raul Iriarte on vocals and contains many excellent tracks.

Miguel Caló — Sus exitos con Raul Iriarte, vol. 2 (EMI Reliquias)
A wonderful collection of music that features Raul Iriarte on vocals.  Contains the fabulous vals Flor de Lino.

Miguel Caló y su Orquesta Típica — Stock Privado de la Casa Odeon (EMI Odeon)
This disc contains some of Caló's better known instrumentals, as well as some classic vocals tracks.  (It seems to be discontinued and is difficult to find.)

Miguel Caló — Sus Exitos con Raul Arrieta (EMI Reliquias)

Miguel Caló — 15 Exitos Grandes (EMI)
This disc features Alberto Podesta and Raul Beron on vocals.  (It seems to be discontinued and is difficult to find.)

Miguel Caló — Los Grandes Orquestas del Tango (Blue Moon 605)
This double CD has a variety of recordings from various incarnations of Caló's orchestra.

Miguel Caló — And His Orchestra of the Stars, 1942-1950  (Harlequin)
This disc features many of the Caló Orchestra's most well-known recordings, but the recording is of substantially lower fidelity than is found on the EMI Reliquias discs.

bandoneon - back to top

Francisco Canaro had a career that spanned many decades, and his orchestra was one of the most recorded.  Much of his recorded music is in the classic salon style of the 1940s, but he is also considered a member of the old guard, and some of his later recordings contributed to the transition to concert tango.  For our tastes, his early golden age recordings are the best.  Some of his later recordings have a glossy pop sound that quickly grows tiresome.

*Francisco Canaro — Desde el Alma  (EMI Reliquias)
This CD has very good sound quality and some great material, but some of the arrangements have a glossy pop sound.  Includes the wonderful vals "Desde el Alma" sung by Nelly Omar.

Francisco Canaro — Tangos Inolvidables del '40  (EMI Reliquias)
This CD has very good sound quality and a few good tangos and valses, but most arrangements have a glossy pop sound.

Francisco Canaro y su Quinteto Pirincho — Nobleza de Arrabal  (El Bandoneon EBCD 90)
In addition to an orchestra, Canaro led a legendary quintet that had a less full but very musical sound.  This CD has a classic sound with a walking beat great for dancing, but the tempo is a bit quicker than is found on the Canaro orchestra recordings.

Quinteto Pirincho/Francisco Canaro — Tangos del Tiempo Viejo (EMI Reliquias)
This CD contains has some classic tracks with a walking beat for dancing

Francisco Canaro — Tiempos Viejos  (Blue Moon BMT 18)
Classic sound with walking beat great for dancing.  Some tracks have a glossy pop sound.

See Canaro's early golden age recordings above.

bandoneon - back to top

Angel D' Agostino is best known for his recordings with singer Angel Vargas in the 1940s.  Together they recorded softer-rhythmic tango music with a playful magic that is still loved by milongueros.  All four of the CDs in the Tangos de Los Angeles contain great tangos, but volumes 2 and 4 have the most recordings that are considered classics.

Angel D' Agostino y Angel Vargas — Tangos de Los Angeles vol. 1 (Tango Argentino)

*Angel D' Agostino y Angel Vargas — Tangos de Los Angeles vol. 2 (Tango Argentino)

Angel D' Agostino y Angel Vargas — Tangos de Los Angeles vol. 3 (Tango Argentino)

*Angel D' Agostino y Angel Vargas — Tangos de Los Angeles vol. 4 (Tango Argentino)

Angel D' Agostino y Angel Vargas — RCA Victor 100 Años
Good fidelity but surprisingly few of the classics.  (Reported as de facto discontinued)

Angel D' Agostino — y su Orquesta Tipica (El Bandoneon EBCD 44)

bandoneon - back to top

Alfredo De Angelis was not considered a great innovator of tango, but his arrangements created solid dance music that has a feel between the smoothness of Di Sarli and the drama of Pugliese. His valses are among the very best.

*Alfredo DeAngelis — From Argentina to the World  (EMI)
This CD contains some classic tangos for dancing including the great Pavadita.

*Alfredo DeAngelis — Instrumentales Inolvidables (EMI Reliquias)
This CD contains many great instrumentals for dancing including Pavadita.

*Alfredo DeAngelis — Adiós Marinero  (El Bandoneon)
This CD contains four great DeAngelis valses with vocals, as well as some great tangos.

Alfredo DeAngelis — Fumando Espero  (EMI Reliquias)
This CD features singer Carlos Dante and has many solid, if unmemorable, tracks for dancing.

bandoneon - back to top

Lucio Demare was a pianist with a unique sound who led an orchestra during the golden age that was known for its smooth rhythm and lyrical sound.

Lucio Demare — Sus Exitos con Raul Beron (EMI Reliquias)
A classic pairing of one of tango's greatest singers with an orchestra that played well with singers.

Lucio Demare — Tango Guapo (El Bandoneon EBCD 081)
This CD contains a lovely version of the classic tango "Malena" and several other classics.

bandoneon - back to top

Osvaldo Fresedo was an innovator who led one of the great tango orchestras during from the 1920s into the 1950s. His playing bridged eras from the old guard through the golden age and into the concert era.  Many musicians apprenticed in his orchestra.  His later music was smooth and lyrical.

*Osvaldo Fresedo con Roberto Ray — Tangos de Salon (Tango Argentino)
A CD of incredible vocal music that is lyrical, softly romantic and at the same time rhythmic.  The tracks should be classified as old guard, but they play as wonderfully lyrical.

Osvaldo Fresedo — 40 Grandes Exitos  (Las Grandes Orquestas del Tango BMT)
This CD contains instrumental and vocal tracks primarily from early incarnations of Fresedo's orchestra, but it opens with "El Once" which epitomizes Fresedo's smooth golden-era style.

Osvaldo Fresedo — Nostalgias (EMI Reliquias)
A CD devoted largely to music with vocals and more representative of the Fresedo's recordings from the later golden era.

¼ Osvaldo Fresedo — El Pibe de la Paternal  (El Bandoneon  EBCD 48)
This CD contains the classic "El Once" which epitomizes Fresedo's smooth golden-era style.  Many other tracks suffer from poor fidelity, and this CD is dominated by the others available.

bandoneon - back to top

Pedro Laurenz was regarded as a great bandoneon player, but his orchestra did not record much.  His valses and milongas are among the very best.

*Pedro Laurenz — Milonga de Mis Amores (El Bandoneon)
This CD contains excellent valses and milongas, as well as a number of fairly good tangos with a 2x4 feel well suited for dancing in the close-embrace style.  The valses and milongas make this a must-have CD.

bandoneon - back to top

Enrique Rodriquez led an orchestra that played with a harder rhythmic sound and featured the singer Armando Moreno.

*Enrique Rodriquez — y Su Orquesta Tipica  (El Bandoneon)
This CD contains a classic set of tracks representing the Rodriquez sound.

bandoneon - back to top

Ricardo Tanturi led an orchestra that recorded with two highly regarded singers that had very different styles, Alberto Castillo and Enrique Campos. Although some debate which singer was better with the orchestra, the choice is more dependent upon whether the moment calls for the more softer rhythmic style of the great Castillo or the more lyrical style of Campos. With either singer, the music is quite popular for close-embrace or more open-embrace dancing.  Tanturi and Castillo also recorded some memorable milongas.

*Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo — Tanturi/Castillo (Solo Tango)
This CD captures some of the best worik that Tanturi and Castillo produced together and with very good sound quality.

*Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo — El Tango es el Tango (Tango Argentino)
This CD has many of the classic tangos recorded by Tanturi and Castillo.

*Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo — Tangos de mi Ciudad (Tango Argentino)
This CD has several classic tangos and milongas recorded by Tanturi and Castillo.

*Ricardo Tanturi con Enrique Campos — Una Emoción (Tango Argentino)

Ricardo Tanturi con Enrique Campos — Encuentro (Tango Argentino)

Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo — Cuatro Compases (El Bandoneon EBCD 48)
Most of the tracks on this CD duplicate those found on either Tangos de mi Ciudad or El Tango es el Tango but with somewhat lower fidelity.

Ricardo Tanturi con Enrique Campos — Una Emoción (El Bandoneon EBCD 081)
Most of the tracks on this CD duplicate those found on one of the Tango Argentino releases, Encuentro or Una Emoción but with much lower fidelity.

bandoneon - back to top

Transition to New Tango

At the end of the 1940s, tango orchestras began to shift from dance music toward a concert sound. The Pugliese, Troilo and D' Arienzo orchestras led the way.  The following CDs feature the music of arranger/conductors who followed the example set by Pugliese and produced recordings that retained a dance beat but also developed the dramatic tension of concert tango that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s.  The music can be more challenging for social dancing than that produced during the golden age or by early dance era orchestras.  We have not included the music played by the orchestras led by Jose Basso, Mariano Mores, and Horacio Salgan because we have found very little of it suitable for social dancing.   Those wanting to collect transition-era recordings to use for social dancing may want to look at A DJ's Guide to Post-Golden-Age Recordings.

*Florindo Sassone — Bien Milonguero, Vols. 1 and 2  (EMI Reliquias)
Florindo Sassone was heavily influenced by his instructors, Roberto Firpo and Osvaldo Fresedo.  He also played in the DiSarli orchestra.  As a leader, his music combined the smooth rhythmic feel of DiSarli and the lyrical sound of Fresedo with the fuller, stronger and more dramatic ochestration that characterized the transistion era.

*Alfredo Gobbi — Instrumentales Inolvidables  (Tango Argentino)
Much of the music recorded by the transition-era orchestra led by violinist Alfredo Gobbi is poorly suited for social dancing.  The music on this CD is a real exception.  It is similar in sound and feel to the golden age smooth recordings of Carlos Di Sarli.

Hector Varela — Instrumentales (EMI Reliquias)
Hector Varela was the first bandoneonist in Juan D' Arienzo's orchestra for many years.  He later led a popular transition era orchestra that retained elements of D' Arienzo's dance beat while taking on a spacious concert sound somewhat reminiscent of Di Sarli.

Juan Cambareri — y su Quarteto 1952-1957  (Disco Latina)
Juan Cambareri was a virtuoso bandoneon player who played with Roberto Firpo.  His playing style had a very strong and unique vibrato and he played very fast fills.  He led his own formation in the early 1950s.  This discontinued and now difficult to obtain CD from Japan contains some well-regarded recordings, but some of the music is played at a very fast tempo.

½ Carlos Garcia and Tango All Stars — Tango II  (JVC)
This CD includes versions of several Piazzolla tangos that are suitable for dancing.  Everyone seems to love the versions of La Cumparsita and Adios Nonino on this CD.  (would be recommended if not discontinued)

½ Orquesta Francini/Pontier — Tango I  (JVC)
Francini and Pontier both played with the Miguel Caló orchestra before striking out together to form their own orchestra.  In some ways, their orchestra represents a continuation of the Caló sound into the concert era—but with a much fuller concert orchestration instead of a dance-band sound.  This CD has many tangos suitable for dancing, but the overblown orchestral arrangements can grow tiresome if played too often.  (would be recommended if not discontinued)

Francini/Pontier — A Los Amigos  (El Bandoneon  EBCD 28)
Although well-regarded for the music it contains, this CD does not really appeal to us because the muddy sound detracts too greatly from the arrangements.

bandoneon - back to top

New Tango

Astor Piazzolla led a revolution in tango by integrating jazz and classical influences to create a concert form of tango. This style of tango is often the first that audiences outside of Argentina hear, and that has led to confusion among dancers and DJs. None of this music is considered suitable for social dancing in Buenos Aires, and it is never played at milongas. Theatrical dancers often use it for performances, and some is popular for dancing outside of Buenos Aires.  In addition to the late Astor Piazzolla, Pablo Ziegler and Juan-Jose Mosalini are well known for their recordings of new tango. Although new tango can be challenging for social dancing, we find some new tango suitable for social dancing, and we list it below.  Those wanting to collect new tango recordings to use for social dancing may want to look at A DJ's Guide to Post-Golden-Age Recordings.

Litto Nebia Quinteto — Tangos Argentinos de Enrique Cadicamo  (Iris 980)
In small doses, we enjoy this recording with guitar, bandoneon, piano, bass and violin. The CD is very well recorded and generally has the slow, clear beat most desirable for dancing. It was previously released in Argentina as 12 Tangos Argentinos Para Bailar: La Musica Inedita de Enrique Cadicamo (Melopea Discos CDMSE 5074).  (likely discontinued)

¼ New York Tango Trio — Cabarute  (Lyrichord 7428)
Some of the rhythm changes can be a bit tricky, and one or two numbers get a bit manic toward the end, but we find the music great, and some of it can be used for social dancing.  (likely discontinued)

¼ Hugo Diaz (harmonica) — Hugo Diaz en Buenos Aires  (Santuario del Tango Victor Japan)
The sound of Hugo Diaz' harmonica rendition of Milonga Triste sets the mood as the movie, The Tango Lesson, opens. His harmonica sound combined with piano and guitar provides a real change of pace.  The rhythms on some tracks can be a bit challenging for social dancing, but we find them wonderful for listening and occasionally for dancing.  (discontinued)

¼ Trio Hugo Diaz — Classic Tango Argentino  (ARC  EUCD 1327)
This CD features great playing on the bandoneon, guitar, and bass. Several cuts can be used for social dancing. Some of the dance music has a dreamy feel, which can be fun for a change of pace. On most tracks, the rhythm changes are not suitable for social dancing.  (not generally available through usual tango music channels)

¼ Trio Pantango — Tango Argentino  (ARC  EUCD 1257)
This CD features solid playing on bandoneon, guitar, and bass. Some of the music has a dreamy feel, which can be fun for a change of pace in dancing. Sometimes the music just floats away.  (not generally available through usual tango music channels)

¼ Sexteto Mayor — Quejas de Bandoneon
This CD contains studio and live material.  Most of the music is better suited for stage dancing than social dancing.

½ Sexteto Mayor — Trottoirs de Buenos Aires
Most of the music is better suited for stage dancing than social dancing.

¼ Quinteto Francisco Canaro — Quinteto Francisco Canaro  (Melopea Discos)
Under the direction of Antonio Alessandro, this quintet plays classics of tango in a modern style. Some of it is suitable for social dancing. Most is not.  (likely discontinued)

bandoneon - back to top

Modern Tango Orquestas

Some modern orchestras, most notably Color Tango, have returned to the dance beat that characterized the golden era of tango dance music.  The recordings made by modern dance orchestras typically have a little more of a dramatic concert feel than those made during the golden era, but the dance beat is prominent and the fidelity is much better than on the old recordings.  Those wanting to collect recordings by modern tango orchestras to use for social dancing, may want to look at A DJ's Guide to Post-Golden-Age Recordings.

¼ Color Tango — Timeless Tango  (EMI Odeon)
Founded by members of a later Pugliese orchestra, Color Tango plays with the "La Yumba" beat that characterized much of Pugliese's dance music.  Recorded before tango dancing really underwent a revival, a few of the tracks on this CD are suitable for social dancing.  Most are not.  The CD may be discontinued on the EMI Odeon label, but it has been released as Antologia de Tango Vol 2. (Mariposa).

*Color Tango — Con Estilo Para Bailar  (Techno Disc)
This CD contains music that has the drama of Pugliese's concert style, and yet most tracks can be used for social dancing.  Many people feel that Pugliese's own recordings dominate those found on this disc.

*Color Tango — Con Estilo Para Bailar, vol. 2  (Techno Disc)
If you love Pugliese but wish that his recordings of dance music were recorded with more fidelity, this phenomenonal CD is for you.  It contains music that has the drama of Pugliese's concert style, and yet most tracks are suitable for social dancing. Many people feel that Pugliese's own recordings dominate those of Color Tango, but the glorious sound found on this disc has much to recommend.

*Color Tango — Con Estilo Para Bailar, vol. 3  (private label)
This CD contains music that has the drama of Pugliese's concert style, and yet most tracks are suitable for social dancing.  Most of the tracks are in the Pugliese style, but few duplicate classic Pugliese recordings.  The sound quality has much to recommend.

*El Arranque — Tango  (Vaiven)
This CD contains several tracks that can work well for late-night dancing.

El Arranque — Clasicos  (espa)
Given the title, it is surprising that the music on this CD is more oriented toward jazz than dancing.

El Arranque — Cabulero (espa)
The music on this CD is not particularly well suited for social dance.

The Tango Camerata — Live at Stanford University  (Rio Plata Institute)
Bandoneonist Dan Diaz conceived The Tango Camerata as a tango ensemble using different musicians and instrumentation in various cities.  In this incarnation, The Tango Camerata is an ensemble comprising bandoneonist Dan Diaz, guitarist Paul Binkley, and bassist Chris Coultier with the addition of vocalist Roberto Forte on some tracks.  The CD presents music recorded in concert as well as at a milonga.  The guitarist's rhythmic drive contributes to a light but very danceable sound on most of the instrumentals.  The tracks with vocals are less suitable for dancing.  Despite the fact the recording was made live, the sound quality is excellent, and there is no crowd noise.  May be available from The Rio Plata Institute.

Sexteto Sur — Libertango  (Victor Japan VICP 60923)
This orchestra plays beautifully, and a few tracks on this CD can be used for late-night dancing.  (available in Japan only)

Los Reyes del Tango — La Ventana  (espa)
A contemporary orchestra that has revived the sound of Juan D' Arienzo.  (Discontinued, but has been fairly widely available.)

bandoneon - back to top

Neo-Tango Music

Neo-tango consists of two genres of music: tango-fusion and "alternative" tango music.  Tango fusion integerates traditional tango rhythms and instrumentation with other musical traditions, contemporary instruments and electronica to create a modern and culturally relevant world tango music with a dance-club sound.  Alternative tango music is tango music from other traditions or non-tango music that some dancers find interesting for dancing Argentine tango steps.

At its best, tango-fusion music combines traditional and electronic instrumentation to bridge the gap between the golden-age recordings and the 21st century.  At its worst, tango-fusion music is just another type of music to which people can execute tango steps.  Tango-fusion music is quite popular with tango dancers in Europe, North America and Buenos Aires who are under 30 years of age.  Older dancers steeped in tango traditions often question whether it is tango music.

We list a few CDs with the most played tango-fusion recordings.

*Carlos Libedinsky — Narcotango
Of the available tango-fusion recordings, this one probably most closely adheres to tango sensibilities.  Less traditionally minded dancers consider all the tracks suitable for social dancing.

*Gotan Project — La Revancha del Tango  (discgraph)
This Argentine/French ensemble helped create tango-fusion music by layering tango music with other dance rhythms.  Once regarded as containing the best tango-fusion music available, the CD was played frequently at many milongas, and some dancers have grown tired of it.  Less traditionally minded dancers consider all the tracks suitable for social dancing.

*Bajofondo Tango Club  (Universal Music)
This Argentine/Uruguayan ensemble plays dance-club music with a tango rhythm.  The combination does more to freshen the dance club sound than it does to freshen tango.  Less traditionally minded dancers consider all the tracks suitable for social dancing.

Juan Carlos Caceres — Toca Tango (Discos CNR de Argentina)
Juan Carlos Caceres has a wonderful, deep singing voice and plays piano with jazz voicings and a perfect rhythmic touch.  He is recorded here with a decidedly non-traditional ensemble, but little of the electronica that is found on some neo tango recordings.  The result is tango and candombes that have overtones of cabaret, jazz, dance club and theatrical music.  The tangos are decidedly slow, but a few of them may be the perfect change of pace late at night.  Two of the candombes—"Tango Negro" and "Toca Tango"—are absolutely stunning.

For a more extensive list of neo-tango CDs, see A DJ's Guide to Neo-Tango Music.

bandoneon - back to top

Compilations

Compilations are ways to get music from a variety of orchestras on a single CD.  Unfortunately for the lazy DJ, there is no commercially available compilation that can be taken from the box and played straight through for social dancing at a milonga.  (Many privately produced compilations are available on a limited basis.  We do not list such compilations.)

*Compilation — Pa' Que Bailen Los Muchachos  (Blue Moon BMT 001/002)
This two CD compilation contains social dance music played by some of the major tango orchestras of the golden age.  Many tracks are the classics of tango. Most tracks are from the golden age, but some are from the old guard, and some are from the transition to new tango.  The sound quality varies by the era in which the music was originally recorded.

*Compilation — Los 100 Mejores Tangos, Milongas y Valses del Milenio, Vol. 3  (El Bandoneon 303)
This disc contains many great milongas along with a few others that are not so great.  It seems to be the best commercially available compilation of milongas.

*Compilation — Los 100 Mejores Tangos, Milongas y Valses del Milenio, Vol. 4  (El Bandoneon 304)
Among the best commercially available compilations of valses, this disc contains many great valses along with a few others that are not so great.

*Compilation — Valses Inolvidables (EMI Reliquias)
Among the best commercially available compilations of valses, this disc contains many great valses, including some played by the Caló, De Angelis and Biagi orchestras.  This disc is the only commercial source of the classic Biagi vals "Amor y Vals."

*Compilation — Valsecitos de Antes (Danza y Movimiento)
Great sound quality on a good collections of valses.

Compilation — Valsecito Amigo  (Danza y Movimiento)
Great sound quality on an average collection of valses.  A must have for djs looking for the best sound quality.

Compilation — Milonga Vieja Milonga (Danza y Movimiento)
Great sound quality on an average collection of milongas.  A must have for djs looking for the best sound quality.

½ Compilation — The Tango Lesson (Movie Soundtrack)  (Sony)
This CD contains a variety of excellent material, including Pugliese, D' Arienzo and difficult to find Hugo Diaz harmonica. Nearly all the tangos are excellent for social dancing. Half of the tracks are movie background music or worse.

Compilation — The Assassination Tango (Movie Soundtrack) (RCA)
This CD contains ten tracks of tango music from the golden age including that recorded by Gobbi, D' Agostino y Vargas, Di Sarli and Tanturi.  The sound quality is not particularly good.

Compilation — Great Bands of Tango's "Golden Age" 1936-47  (Harlequin HQCD 89)
This CD contains some outstanding dance music from the old guard as well as orchestras from the golden age, but some of it is relatively dull.  (Some copies of this CD are unplayable on some CD players.)

Compilation — Instrumental Tangos of the Golden Age  (Harlequin  HQCD 45)
This CD is a nice compilation of older dance music representing both the old guard and orchestras of the golden age.  It has generally good sound quality but some of tracks sound a bit muddy.

Compilation — Antologia del Tango (DMA 5014)
This CD contains all vocal music primarily from the golden age, but also from a few transition era orchestras.  (likely discontinued)

½ Compilation — Buenos Aires by Night  (EMI)
This CD contains a wide variety of material. Some of it is excellent for social dancing, including a Raul Garello recording of the Piazzolla tango, "Verano Porteño."  (likely discontinued)

½ Compilation — Grandes del Tango Instrumental (Music Hall 246553)
This CD is a decent compilation of music primarily from orchestras that played during the transition to new tango.  (discontinued)

½ Compilation — Grandes del Tango Instrumental, vol. 2  (Music Hall 236531)
This CD contains many classics of tango dance music from the golden age and the transition era to new tango. A few tracks are clinkers.  (discontinued)

¼ Compilation — 16 Grande Tangos for Export  (RCA)
This RCA compilation that was once widely available in the United States (but may be discontinued) has only a few pieces that are enjoyable for social dancing..  It does contain the same D' Arienzo recordings of La Cumparsita and La Puñalada that are found on the D' Arienzo Para El Mundo discs.

bandoneon - back to top

Recordings to Avoid

The vast majority of recordings used to dance Argentine tango socially were made by the big name orchestras that recorded during the golden era.  Recordings of other orchestras, particularly those made during other eras, are much less likely to be suitable for social dancing.  Unfortunately, the tango recordings that are most easily found in stores are not usually the best for dancing Argentine tango socially.  For the many tango recordings we do not list above, critical listening before purchasing would be wise.  We also recommend being very careful about purchasing the recordings listed below when starting a collection of tango recordings for social dancing.  They may be excellent for listening and may contain a few gems for dancing that make them good additions to an extensive collection.

Recordings by Carlos Gardel
Although Carlitos is widely regarded as the greatest tango singer of all time, his recordings were not intended for dancing, and some Argentines consider it offensive to his memory to do so.


Recordings by Astor Piazzolla, Pablo Ziegler and Juan-Jose Mosalini
Recordings by these artists are widely available and highly regarded for listening, but they did not record tango music with social dancing in mind. When we first wrote this guide, we made a blanket recommendation against the use of their recordings for social dancing, but those who dance the nuevo and liquid styles of tango are beginning to use these recordings for social dancing.  Dancers of other social styles may dismiss such dancing as largely theatrical.


Recordings from tango stage shows.
Although the music can be excellent, at best one to three tracks on a CD are suitable for social dancing. Some recordings have no pieces suitable for social dancing. Usually the tempos are much too fast. Some DJs who mine obscure recordings may play an exceptional piece from a tango show at a milonga, but these DJs are often drawing upon a much larger collection of tango music than is described here.


Recordings of Ballroom Tango
Ballroom tango music is not generally accepted for dancing Argentine tango, but it is typically found in the same bins at the store as Argentine tango music.  For tipoffs that the CD is likely to be ballroom tango watch for cover art that suggests ballroom dancing and song titles listed in English, such as Blue Tango, Hernando's Hideaway or Jealousy.  None of the online sources listed above in Where to Buy carry ballroom tango music.


Tango Recordings by Opera Singers
Enough said!!

bandoneon - back to top

Some of Our Favorite Tango CDs

  1.  Osvaldo Pugliese — Ausencia  (EMI Odeon # 8 35886 2)
  2.  Miguel Caló — Al Compás del Corazon  (EMI Reliquias)
  3.  Juan D' Arienzo — El Esquinazo 1937-1938 (RCA 70 Años)
  4.  Carlos Di Sarli — Milonguero Viejo  (Music Hall 10018-2)
  5.  Rodolfo Biagi — Sus Exitos con Alberto Amor (EMI Reliquias)
  6.  Anibal Troilo con Francisco Fiorentino — Troilo/Fiorentino (Solo Tango)
  7.  Orquesta Color Tango — Con Estilo Para Bailar, vol. 2  (Techno Disc)
  8.  Ricardo Tanturi con Enrique Campos — Una Emoción (Tango Argentino)
  9.  Osvaldo Fresedo con Roberto Ray — Tangos de Salon  (Tango Argentino)
10.  Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo — Tanturi/Castillo  (Solo Tango)
11.  Carlos Di Sarli con Jorge Duran — Porteño y Bailarín (Tango Argentino)
12.  Osvaldo Pugliese — DeCaro por Pugliese  (EMI)
13.  Juan D' Arienzo — De Pura Cepa 1935-1936  (RCA 70 Años)
14.  Pedro Laurenz — Milonga de Mis Amores  (El Bandoneon)

bandoneon - back to top

Tango Montreal Top 25

In early 1997, Tango Montreal conducted a survey of the top tango recordings, and about 75 individuals responded. Although RCA, Solo Tango, EMI Reliquias, Tango Argentino, Lantower, El Bandoneon and Blue Moon have released many good tango CDs since the survey was conducted, it may remain a useful source of information. Below are the dance titles rated in the top 25.

  1. Miguel Caló, Yo Soy el Tango - El Bandoneon EBCD 34
  2. Francisco Canaro, La Melodía de Nuestro Adiós (1932-38) - El Bandoneon EBCD 30
  3. Juan D' Arienzo, El Rey del Compás - El Bandoneon EBCD 43
  4. Carlos Di Sarli, Milonguero Viejo - Music Hall 10018-2
  5. Anibal Troilo, El Inmortal Pichuco (1941) - El Bandoneon EBCD 1
  6. Ricardo Tanturi, Cuatro Compases - El Bandoneon EBCD 48
  7. Carlos Di Sarli, El Señor del Tango - El Bandoneon EBCD 38
  8. Osvaldo Pugliese, Recuerdo (1944-1945) - El Bandoneon EBCD 71
  9. Alfredo De Angelis, Adiós Marinero - El Bandoneon EBCD 35
10. Rodolfo Biagi, Campo Afuera (1939-42) - El Bandoneon EBCD 40
11. Anibal Troilo, Del Tiempo Guapo (1941-43) - El Bandoneon EBCD 47
12. -- not social dance music
13. Anibal Troilo, Quejas de Bandoneón - El Bandoneon EBCD 67
14. -- not social dance music
15. Litto Nebia Quinteto, Tangos Argentinos de Enrique Cadicamo - Iris 980
16. Compilation, Instrumental Tangos of the Golden Age - Harlequin  HQCD 45
17. Julio De Caro, El Inolvidable (1926-1928) - El Bandoneon EBCD 6
18. Juan D' Arienzo, La Cumparsita (1935-39) - El Bandoneon EBCD 84
19. Lucio Demare, Tango Guapo (1942-1944) - El Bandoneon EBCD 10
20. Orquesta Tipica Victor (1923-1934) - El Bandoneon EBCD 41
21. Francini-Pontier, A los Amigos (1946-50) - El Bandoneon EBCD 28
22. Compilation, Historia del Tango - (label uncertain)
23. Osvaldo Fresedo, El Pibe de la Paternal (1950-53) - El Bandoneon EBCD 49
24. Angel D' Agostino, Y su Orquesta Típica (1940-45) - El Bandoneon EBCD 44
25. -- not social dance music

bandoneon - back to top

Tango Argentino de Tejas

Home   Video Resources   Tango Music   Other Topics   Dallas Tango   Links


Type your paragraph here.