Posted by Marcos Detry in the Tango Mailing list (Tango-L) on Tue, 23 Jul 1996
The day when Piazzolla met Gardel
When Astor's father, Nonino, found out that Gardel was in the USA, he made a wood carving to pay him tribute. He asked his twelve year old son, Astor, to take it to him. (IMAGE) When the boy reached the building where Gardel was living, he met Alberto Castellano (IMAGE) who worked for NBC and led the boy to the room where Gardel was. From that moment, everything turned to confusion. Castellano had left the key inside the room. So, they climbed the fire ladder, opened the window and entered Gardel's room. When they were inside, Astor Piazzolla made a mistake and awoke Le Pera to give him the present. Le Pera reacted violently until he realized that he was a boy and not a thief.
Finally, Astor found Gardel and gave him his father's present. Carlos Gardel and the Piazzollas, who lived in Brooklyn, precisely in Little Italy, became good friends. He not only visited the family because of the good cuisine, but also because Latin musicians used to meet there, making Gardel feel comfortable in a warm and bohemian atmosphere that reminded him of Buenos Aires. It was Fate that made Nonino, Astor's father, refused to allow him to travel in the plane that took Gardel and his musicians to their death. Astor referred to this in a TV show in 1969. (IMAGE) Testimony of Astor Piazzolla Gardel and Astor are still the most perfect image of the tango. It is impossible to avoid them when trying to understand the evolution of Argentine popular music. It is said that Saint Romualdo's soul (something similar to what happened with Sinatra) links the best Latin American artist, the singer, Gardel, and the musician, Astor Piazzolla. There is a key fact to understanding them: their avant garde attitudes toward music, the feeling they had to understand the importance of their music at a certain artistic moment. Perhaps the difference between them is that Gardel, when he decided to sing tango, attracted the public who felt represented by the message and who turned him into an idol. "Popular" currents were growing in Latin America and Gardel, perhaps without being conscious, was able to represent them through his music. He sang for all social classes. In contrast, Piazzolla was not able to reach the people. Perhaps the reason was that tango was not widely accepted by the general public. Apart from this, he had to fight against his colleague's prejudices and the dogmas, of tango based on gloom and the cult of past years, built a phenomenon that was able to destroy any desire to change. But the incredible talent and the outstanding training of Astor were able to succeed and, as Gardel, he lived for the tango. Furthermore, the life of the concertino player coincided with the decline of the tango and the apogee of the jazz , in the fifties, and the pop of the sixties that completely eclipsed the tango. Gardel, with his perception, talent and strong energy opened the door to the sensitivity and musical refinement of Astor. If Gardel granted the tango a one hundred year life, Piazzolla guaranteed its continuity for at least one hundred years more.
Garrit Fleischmann 24.Jul.96