There is not old tango and new tango: the tango is one.
Troilo is amongst the most enduringly popular of all tango musicians. More than any other orchestra Troilo placed great emphasis on the singer and the early sides with Francisco Fiorentino, with Orlando Goñi on piano, are timeless.
Troilo's bandoneón playing is widely considered the best ever. I am sure that the modern European listener would choose Pugliese's first bandoneón, Osvaldo Ruggiero. By contrast, Troilo's playing is understated and his subtle interventions do not call attention to themselves.
Another huge innovation was the piano of Orlando Goñi, who created a whole new way of playing that has been described as the antithesis of the sharp, nervous style of Biagi in the D'Arienzo orchestra. Goñi's rhythm is fluid and elastic, with wonderfully decorated base figures that we, in search of a name, nowadays describe as marcación bordoneada.
In general, Troilo's popularity in the tango revival is nowhere near what the quality of his music deserves. His music has more depth than, say, D'Arienzo or Tanturi and, like a good wine, takes longer to appreciate.
Troilo's output divides into five periods.
- 1938: Odeón sign Troilo and they record two sides, but Odeón aren't interested in developing their new artists and nothing more appears - ever. These two sides are available only on El Bandoneón
- 1941 - 1949: RCA (later RCA-Victor) - extensively re-issued by BMG
- 1950 - 1956: TK - re-issued by EURO records as Archivo TK
- 1957 - 1959: Odeón: re-issued on EMI (also licensed to DBN)
- 1960 - 1970: RCA-Victor again
Whilst remaining true to the traditions of tango Troilo was not afraid to innovate. His early 50s output in particular is really interesting for the connosieur. Piazzolla is the main arranger and Troilo experiments freely in a way that makes D'Arienzo from this period feel very backward-looking. There are some quite daring versions of Piazzolla compositions.
In 1963 Troilo became the second beneficiary of RCA's "Tango for Export" programme, using the new stereo technology to promote tango to an overseas market, recording the classic album Troilo for Export.
There are so many Troilo albums that it's impossible to get through them all in this brief review, but we'll try to point out the most important ones.
What sort of buyer are you?
- I only want one or two albums of Troilo
- I prefer instrumentals
- I'm a DJ or collector - I must have everything
- I don't want to have everything, just all the good stuff
I only want one or two albums of Troilo
Well, you must start with the 1941 sides with Fiorentino. The best place to get these is on BMG Argentina - volume 1 of their 26 volume reissue of Troilo's complete works on RCA-Victor is one of our essential cds. We can get you the other volumes in this series as well: have a look at this page.
If you live in or visit Spain, you can also get these sides quite cheaply on El Bandoneón. You can get EBCD-1 and then maybe EBCD-47 later on. El Bandoneón makes a poor platform for extending your collection later on because some of their other Troilo albums are a little poor but, if you're not planning on a big collection, this is not a problem. Even so I would advise anyone considering this route to get instead the 4 cd boxed set on El Bandoneón EBCD-305, which includes the two sides Troilo recorded for Odeón in 1938, Comme il faut and Tinta verde.