Sonntag, 11. Februar 2024

Gardel in New York - Prologue


by Terig Tucci with annotations by Camilo Gatica and José Manuel Araque

Terig Tucci is an old and beloved fellow that Colombian fans of popular music, and even those who specialize in typical Colombian music, always have present in their memories.

His name appeared frequently in the phonographic records that became popular in the years corresponding to the thirties. Many times as director of a "estudiantina" that revived the glories of the great authors of the beginning of the century in the country. Pedro Morales Pino and Luis A. Calvo, Emilio Murillo and Alejandro Wills, Fulgencio GarcÌa and Jorge Rubiano.

They and others, equally appreciated by the romantic public of that time, created in the Colombian capital the golden age of the "estudiantinas".

The "estudiantinas" were typical orchestras formed by Creole instruments, guitars, bandolas and tiples, mainly and occasionally, violins and cellos.

The "estudiantinas" enlivened the atmosphere of the "piqueteaderos", where they shared space between verses and liquors and the poets of that time, when the poets of vogue had the category of popular idols, and were then what the champion cyclists of the Vuelta a Colombia, or the soccer "craks" are today. In their bohemian strings frolicked the Creole melodies and romantic songs that laid the foundation of the Colombian musical heritage.

The most famous of the "estudiantinas", the "Lira Colombiana" of Morales Pino, traveled through the countries of Central America to the United States, and disintegrated in New York. Wills and Escobar, the most famous interpreters of bambucos at that time, also went to New York to record discs accompanied by their own tiple and guitar and by a sweet, sweet violin played by Miguel Bocanegra, who stayed there and later became one of Tucci's main collaborators.

Terig Tucci's records picked up the lost breath of those distant years, already with the status of a memory. And based on those sentimental tunes, its director composed other songs that were added to the Colombian repertoire as their own thing and that are still performed and even danced when there is a sentimental and lively couple in the room.

The Estudiantina Tucci's way of playing. Its strange "flavor" of "cosa nuestra" - he spoke in Colombian before arriving at the continental Tucci -, created a school, and surpassed, if you will, the elementary orchestration inherited from yesteryear.

Many years later, around 1954 or 1955, some Colombian phonographic houses, when reviving the fashion of the pasillos and bambucos in "estudiantina" versions, copied with more or less accuracy the orchestrations and arrangements of Terig Tucci and even re-recorded some titles that became famous in his records.

Automatically then, Terig Tucci joined the most beloved group of "Colombian" musicians, of those who distinguished themselves as interpreters and authors of the music of the interior, and they were named together with BriceÒo and AÒez, Sonia Dmitrowna -MarÌa Betancourt de C·ceres, resident today in Mendoza (Argentina)-, the Hermanos Hern·ndez, Sarita Herrera and Federico Jimeno, Ladizlao Orozo and Alejandro Giraldo, who by the way recorded as vocalists of his group on some occasions. And his instrumental versions were identified with the best moments of the pasillo and bambuco.

This is how his name became a beloved companion in festivities and parrandas. In friendly get-togethers, in dances and summer parties.

And with the tangos.

Because also with tangos Terig Tucci made an era, in Colombia and in America.

His orchestra accompanied AgustÌn Irusta in a series of songs that were a whole epoch of the Argentine song, after Carlos Gardel's death, and when Irusta had just left the TrÌo Irusta-Fugazot y Demare and started as an independent vocalist.

Precisely a tango song by Gardel and Lepera, posthumous, was recorded by the "RuiseÒor rosarino" with the backing of Tucci's orchestra, definitely "Gardeliana". That one tha said "La llama alienta la chimenea...".

And it was also because of the cafetines de tango that Terig Tucci's name was known in these regions.
The legend enveloped him. His growing importance in the musical world of the United States was ignored. Some supposed that Terig Tucci was really a pseudonym that covered some of the great musicians that collaborated in the American radio stations in the first years of the broadcasting of radio, when the auditions in Spanish abounded or when the State Department, in time of war, sponsored programs destined to elevate the morale of the democratic countries.

Later, small biographies of him began to be published.

And with the arrival of the long play records, and the rebirth of the record industry, almost completely nullified in the golden days of radio and in the collapse of the Second World War, Terig Tucci once again returned to the record charts as a relevant figure. And his gigantic orchestrations sounded triumphant again with that luxurious coating he gave to Latin melodies. To the tangos, to the pasodobles, to the pasillos, to the songs of his Argentine pampas, to the Peruvian and Ecuadorian airs.
His career is extremely brilliant.

Orchestrator, Orchestra Conductor and Advisor of Latin American music for eleven years, beginning in 1930, at the National Broadcasting Company.

He alternated then as conductor of the orchestra of the International General Electric of Schenectady, N.Y., the radio band that fulfilled such a transcendental task when radio broadcasting was born. And as such he was between the 1930s and 1940s.

From 1930 until 1959, he was intimately involved in the recording of Latin music records for RCA Victor and Columbia.

Between 1939 and 1941 he was in charge of transcriptions of radio programs for the World Broadcasting Company. And in 1941 he was appointed Music Director of the Americas Network of the Columbia Broadcasting System, when the voices of Arviz˙, Elsa Miranda, Charro Gil y sus Caporales, Néstor Mesta Chayres, Eva Garza and Reinaldo HenrÌquez were reaching us like messages of peace, fervently wished for, as well as the voices of NÈstor Mesta Chayres, Eva Garza and Reinaldo HenrÌquez. He was there until 1947. And for one year he was the Musical Director of Macy's Latin American Fair (1941-1942).

Then, for ten years, until 1957, he did commercial work in the National Export Advertising Service, and then he was linked to Coca Cola, directing between 1948 and 1949 its famous Latin American programs that arrived in big records, with consecrated voices, to the most important radio stations of the new world.
Between 1951 and 1959, he was Music Director of the Latin American division of La Voz de AmÈrica. And between 1953 and 1957, he was a commentator and music critic for World Wide Broadcasting, in addition to having collaborated intensely with musical backgrounds for documentary films about Latin America, commissioned by the United Nations.

Of all that work, very extensive and meritorious, there is something that Terig Tucci remembers with specialty due to the circumstances in which it was developed and the transcendence that had the fact itself and all the unexpected matters that would follow.

The accompaniment for Carlos Gardel's records, the last ones, the ones he recorded in New York between the late 1934 and early 1935.

Gardel turned his artistic career around.

During more than twenty years of performances in Europe and in his country, he had reached a privileged place in the world of m˙sica ligera. He "made" the tango song. He "created" it at the very moment in which one distant night in the year 17 he decided to sing at the Esmeralda Theater, "Mi Noche Triste", turning around the opinions that were held about those half sad, bitter, and frivolous lyrics that came like sinful echoes from Palermo and La Boca to the asphalted center of old Buenos Aires. And then he took him by the hand, personally, amidst acclaim, all over the world.

But he wanted to expand his radius of influence. And he wanted to dress him in a more universal costume - even though he insisted on a gaucho costume, which had nothing to do with his songs - with more ambitious and universal accompaniments.

With his trip to the United States, that dream began to become a happy reality. He changed recording companies and made 22 recordings that definitively consolidated his prestige as the "number one" and that, even for those who consider his era and his influence closed for years, are considered as an example, as a model of interpretative elegance and musical success.

Tangos, romantic songs, foxes, rumbas, jotas, provincial airs of Argentina, almost all of them specially composed for him; versified by the immense talent of Alfredo Lepera, turned Carlos Gardel into a "chanssonier" of world projection, on par with Chevalier and Al Jolson, without ceasing to be himself, and in this point lies the greatest merit of those who advised and directed him, an exquisite and very complete tango artist.

Those recordings had Terig Tucci's collaboration. He was the one who was by the singer's side. Who directed and "intoned" him. Who gave that mark of immortality to such records that left behind, as something ancient and valuable simply for its historical performance, what Gardel had done in recording material.

And what was behind them. The environment in which they were created. The life that the artist lived when he made them. The framework that accompanied their realization, is now opened to the knowledge of Gardelistas around the world, in this book written precisely by Tucci, passionate and passionately.

When Gardel finished those records, he started again on his American voyage. And he went to South America in search of his final fate.

The trip ended tragically, at the MedellÌn airport, a few meters from where we finish writing these lines. Where a stroke of fatality united, in a tremendous hatching that still dazzles the memory, on June 24, 1935.

And the names of those personalities had shared their hearts for months to create a small world of delightful songs until ending with "Apure Delantero Buey", they go together in the nostalgia of the night music. They linger in the dawning laments of sad tangos and playful pasillos. They live in the friendly get-togethers. They walk hand in hand through the streets of the popular songbook, and ignite with the light of the burnt airplanes, the longing and the anecdote that spawn the evocation and the legend.

Carlos Gardel and Terig Tucci.

The two together. As in this book that is a tribute to the absent. The payment of a debt with a public eager for details about everything that was the professional intimacy of the unforgettable zorzal.
And a gospel about the things of yesteryear.