Archive for the ‘Cafe de los Maestros’ Tag

CHULA CLAUSI   2 comments

For more than seventy years the neighborhood in the Agronomy district has not changed much. The familiar sight of ladies washing the sidewalk and cats playing on top of the cars parked on the street are a common daily occurrence. Then there is that house where Chula Clausi lived surrounded by piles of musical scores on the table, on shelves, on chairs. Close to 500 of his own published works. Where visitors grew accustomed at being received by a man dressed like he was going to a concert.

On February 17, 2010 something changed. Don Gabriel, the 98 year old neighbor, known by many as the bandoneon player, composer and arranger Chula Clausi, died of respiratory complications. With his departure, he took with him a fascinating and mysterious centennial history that includes a major swath of the evolution of the tango. His life trajectory includes a active role in the fostering of the Guardia Vieja all the way to a late rediscovery of his talent way into the 21st century. A mixture of religious man and modest person, he preferred to say that his trajectory and the general recognition he obtained in the last few years were “a gift of God”.

Actually it was a hot and humid summer night that God chose to work His mysterious ways via rock and roll band Los Piojos (The fleas). Already into his nineties in 2003 Clausi surprised the standing room only 70,000 plus crowd at River Plate Stadium when he slowly walked with an old time elegance across the stage, totally dressed in white as a guest of Los Piojos. He got an thunderous ovation as he pulsed the always austere and confessional sound of his bandoneón.

Something similar happened a couple of years later at the Teatro Colon. He walked slowly on stage, delivered an intimate interpretation and received the unanimous applause of the audience. Of course, that was the Cafe de los Maestros CD Release Party night. His presence among other glories of the tango stood out not only for his longevity conjugated with vitality but also by his subtle style and his rich history. And with the launching of Gustavo Santaolalla and Gustavo Mozzi’s project, the journalistic curiosity and the attention of a public not necessarily tanguero were focused on him.

It’s not unusual for Argentines to venerate dead people with fanatical passion while being blase about those still alive, but Clausi was already playing at Teatro Astral at age 15 with the Francisco Pracánico orchestra along side Miguel Calo. In 1928 he was part of the Roberto Firpo orchestra, recorded and played with Pedro Maffia during five years, was one of the main members of the orchestra of Julio De Caro in 1936, knew Carlos Gardel, composed with Celedonio Flores, Enrique Cadícamo, Francisco De Caro and Jose Maria Contursi.

Strictly speaking, he had known them all. He was part of the representative ensembles of the Guardia Vieja led by Juan Maglio “Pacho” and Roberto Firpo. But its main influence was Pedro Maffia, the father of a whole stylistic school of bandoneón playing. For Clausi, the golden decades of the tango had been the 20’s and 30. Later he missed the definitive consecration: during the 40’s and part of the 50’s he lived and worked in several countries of Latin America, mainly in Chile. Peculiarly – and also, unfortunately, he returned to the country when the tango began to wane.

Gabriel Clausi always played the same since the beginning, trying to do what he felt. His artistry didn’t reside in the virtuosity, it was in his expression. “Chula” never touched with his fingers nor with his brain. He played with his heart.

He has now graduated of immortal, and his name has become synonym of legend.

Posted February 18, 2010 by Alberto & Valorie in IN MEMORY OF

Tagged with ,

CARLOS LAZZARI   Leave a comment

Carlos Lazzari, bandoneon player, composer and arranger passed away Tuesday night, June 9, 2009 in Buenos Aires.
He was born on December 9, 1925. He began his professional career playing under the guidance of Pedro Maffia.

He later shared with other alumni of the 1940’s generation, the rise to fame of the Miguel Calo orchestra. He alternated as a member of a prestigious bandoneon line up that included the likes of Armando Pontier, Juan Cambareri, Eduardo Rovira, and others.

In 1945, he followed Osmar Maderna when the pianist left Miguel Calo to form his own orchestra, then moved on to play with Francisco Canaro until 1950 when he joined the Juan D’Arienzo orchestra where he spent 25 years as 1st bandoneon, soloist, arranger, and composer. He was instrumental in the transformation of the traditional sound of the early D’Arienzo orchestras writing with more interesting melodic and harmonic ideas that contributed to the longevity of the D’Arienzo brand.

Indeed, in addition to being a dynamic bandoneon player, Lazzari, in his later years, demonstrated his capabilities as an arranger. Of particular note is the way in which he continued to create fresh, rich sounds that gave a contemporary air to the broad-boned style of the D’Arienzo orchestra. It is because of Lazzari’s extensive behind the scenes efforts that the so-called D’Arienzo style never showed any signs of aging.

Carlos Lazzari, Miguel Varvallo, Julio Esbres, Hector Silva (bandoneon), Raul Latorre, Raul Rodriguez, Jose Votti, Emilio Gonzalez (violin), Osvaldo Cambon (piano), and Hector Gury (contrabass)

The "Juan D'Arienzo Orchestra" with Carlos Lazzari, Miguel Varvallo, Julio Esbres, Hector Silva (bandoneon), Raul Latorre, Raul Rodriguez, Jose Votti, Emilio Gonzalez (violin), Osvaldo Cambon (piano), and Hector Gury (contrabass)

Carlos Lazzari eventually took over on the responsibilities of a business manager. As D’Arienzo’s trusted heir he was the one and only person authorized to use the “Juan D’Arienzo Orchestra” brand name after the King of the Rythm’s death in 1976. After D’Arienzo’s death, Lazzari made four trips to Japan. In 1982 he led his orchestra on an immensely successful performance tour around Argentina.

He later went on to direct and arrange for Los Solistas de D’Arienzo with whom he played for many years for dancers at the Nuevo Salon La Argentina.

Until the time of his death he has played nearly every night a La Ventana in San Telmo. But his celebrity status rose to rock star dimensions when he was featured as bandoneonista y arranger in producer’s Gustavo Santaolalla’s traditional tango project Cafe de los Maestros, released as a documentary, a book and a series of recordings of great exponents like Leopoldo Federico, Lagrima Rios, Carlos Lazzari, Aníbal Arias, Alberto Podesta, Horacio Salgán, Ernesto Baffa, Virginia Luque, Mariano Mores and Emilio Balcarce.

On a clear Buenos Aires evening in late February of this year, Lazzari may not have known that he was making one of his last public appearances as a member of the Cafe de los Maestros cast during a free concert sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the city of Buenos Aires. That fateful Palermo by the Panetarium evening was also a dream come true for British blogger and two year Buenos Aires resident Sallycat. She witnessed a fading page of history unfold before her eyes. We share her feelings as she wrote,

Gabriel ‘Chula’ Clausi’s hands are 97 years old, but they can love the bandoneon on his knee into a solo melody exquisite enough to silence a crowd of thousands. And for two hours it was the hands of Maestros that mesmerised me from the big screen. Clausi’s, Leopoldo Federico’s, Carlos Lazzari’s (who must have been granted a night off from La Ventana), Ernesto Baffa’s. Some of these men needed assistance to walk from the wings to their seat on the stage. Some of their bodies stooped. Some were unsteady on their feet. Their bandoneons were carried to them by youthful stagehands. Each man waited while a black cloth and then their ‘musical box’ was placed across their thighs. Then hands that have touched time for almost a century, pressed and pulled and created beauty.