Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Podestá Godoy, cantores

This is the trailer for a recent 50-minute documentary with English subtitles, featuring conversations with two great singers of the golden age, Alberto Podestá and Juan Carlos Godoy. I saw it recently in London. Of course, sadly Podestá died just a few weeks ago, so a film in which he recalls his life, the music he made and how it was made is timely, and a great tribute to a very remarkable voice. He's extraordinary in this film, with a clear memory for the details of his recordings. & one moment he's a warm, friendly 91 year-old man and then suddenly, apparently without even drawing a breath, this voice emerges from him, as if it doesn't physically come from his lungs and larynx but directly from his heart. In the film it's recognisably the voice of Podestá, and the strain of singing complete tangos for recent public performances may not have been easy on his voice.

Godoy's conversations focus less on his music and singing, and more on some of his escapades, including an invitation to the ranch of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar. But these two interviews give a great insight from the heart of tango at its greatest time.

It's a beautifully made film, well directed and well edited, and it's great that films like this are made while these people are still with us. It came from the Buenos Aires company laisladigital, a prolific producer of short films and commercials, including a number of tango films. One of the first Laisladigital films was the film on Tete Rusconi, A volar señores, un vals para Tete, a shortened version of which they've uploaded to YouTube.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Muma teaching Ricardo Vidort's legacy in California this October

Jantango very kindly passed on a link to some videos of Muma's visit to the US in October. There's a long radio interview, and several tracks of performances with Rafael Galante from LA. It's such a pleasure to watch Muma dance. There's nothing rushed or over-eager about her dance: it's as if she tries to step at the last possible moment. It adds a particular energy to her movements, and to me this langorous, unhurried way of stepping makes her dance more sensual. Sadly, there's been nothing at all from Ojai or Seattle, where she gave workshops. She also taught in LA, so we can only hope that videos of some of her 2015 teaching in the US will emerge.

There's just one video I can find of Muma teaching: it's during her visit to Vancouver in 2009. There's a short account of her teaching on posture (with a very helpful exercise) from her visit to Seattle in the same year.

The radio interview is nearly two hours, although the first ten and the last 20 minutes are 'filler', and it's split up with music tracks. It's also long because translation is sequential, but it's fascinating and brilliant to listen to. Muma's family background was 'golden age' tango, and it's wonderful to listen to her recollections of the musicians and the dance she grew up with.

This is a general summary. The interview begins with general family background.

00:35 She talks about Tanturi's Asi se baile el Tango and says it describes exactly how tango was danced when she was growing up. (There's a translation of the song here.) Then she talks about d'Arienzo, then Di Sarli. (A real insight into tango as it's heard in Buenos Aires. Essential.)

01:01 She talks about the importance of codigos in Buenos Aires, but implying that courtesy and respect should be followed generally. Cabaceo as a 'seductive game'. Respecting the dance floor, not barging into the line of dance, etc.

01:11 Talking about Ricardo Vidort, a great description of how he danced. Importance of perfecting the walk. As to the 'eight classes', ' all the years I spent working with Vidort I never heard him mention to me that he had eight classes'. How his classes actually were. 'It's a lifetime of practice.'

01.24 Other people she danced with.

Of course, there's more. Ojai's advance advertising highlighted the '8 lessons' as the topic of Muma's workshops, but Muma herself says in the interview that they didn't exist in a precise form, and their later publicity toned it down to the teaching of 'La esencia of Ricardo Vidort'. She explains that he believed in teaching walking and some basic material, which could be taught in six, eight, ten classes. After that it was up to those who learned from him to go out and create their own tango from these fundamentals. She also says that he wasn't the kind of teacher who wanted to claim students and get them coming back to him again and again. You need to be pointed in the right direction, but after that it's up to you to work on it.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Alberto Podestá

Sad news that the great singer died a couple of days ago. Aged over 90, he sang with Caló at age 16, then for Di Sarli, Fancini-Pontier and Laurenz among others, and he was still singing until recently. I heard him in Porteño y Bailarin a few years ago. He performed with two guitars, a format going back to the early tangos of Gardel. Of course his voice had changed, but his emotional directness was intact. It was an astonishing evening. I have a rather poor video of the event, but it does give a flavour.

I'll have his Percal with Caló on a loop all day.

P.S. There's short clip of Podestá talking about singing and his life here.