Rich History of the Beginnings of the Tango

Tango Voices Songs from the Soul of Buenos Aires and Beyond
Tango Voices Songs from the Soul of Buenos Aires and Beyond
Tango Voices Songs from the Soul of Buenos Aires and Beyond
Compiled and Edited by Donald Cohen
Wise Publications

New Yorker attorney, history and music professor, guitarist and music folklorist Donald Cohen explores the life of the tango canción and its propagation throughout the world in his book Tango Songs From the Soul of Buenos Aires and Beyond. With printed music and lyrics, photographs, reprinted songbook covers and accompanying CD, Mr. Cohen introduces readers to the music, lyricists, composers, performers and stories behind twenty-six tango cancións from all over the world, celebrating the worldwide seductive lure of the tango.

Mr. Cohen delves right into the rich history of the beginnings of the tango in the orillas of Buenos Aires and finally ends up exploring the Hon Ghen or Jalousie by Danish musician and conductor Jacob Gade and lyricist Vera Bloom as sung by Vietnam’s Khanh Ly. Mr. Cohen fills in the history of tango canción greats through life and music of Carlos Gardel and his truly exquisite Me Buenos Aires Querido and Francisco Canaro’s tango vals (waltz) You No Se Que Me Han Hecho Tus Ojos or the Algerian tango Ana El Owerka with music by Mustapha Skandrani and lyrics by Mustapha Kechokoul with not only a music professor’s sense of historical importance but with a personal passion for the music.

Readers of every stripe will love Tango Voices as it is no staid history, just as the tango is no polite, friendly hop. Juicy nuggets like the affair of tango maestro Francisco Canaro with songstress Ada Falcon or tales of Oh, Donna Clara lyricist Fritz Lohner Beda and his defense of African American dancer Josephine Baker are shot throughout the book, making it clear that the passion of the tango exceeds far beyond the music.

Tango Voices captures a modest selection of the tango canción’s history (a complete history would take volumes) in an easy fashion that will appeal to both the dedicated aficionado and the tango novice. Musicians are certain to take to the book with its printed music that includes melody line and chord boxes. Another draw is the lovely black-and-white photos and printed lyrics like those from A Media Luz:

"And all in half light
That is the sorcerer of love
At half light the kisses,
At half light the two of us
And all in half light,
Twilight within
As soft as velvet,
The half light of our lov

Tango Voices exists nicely with the text and photos, but the accompanying CD is worth its weight in gold with such plummy treats like Nelly Omar on La Cumparsita, Alberto Podesta’s version of El Bazar de Los Juguetes and the vocals of Roberto Goyaneche on Astor Piazolla’s Vuelvo Al Sur. Without a doubt the CD is filled with wonders like Mesanichta, Le Plus Beau Tango Du Monde, Ana El Owerke with vocals by Lili Boniche and my personal favorite Viejo Coche with vocals by Rosita Quiroga. Mr. Cohen takes readers and listeners around the world with Tango Voices and it’s a rich, sultry journey.

Buy the book:

Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.