Part 18-2, continued: Argentine Tango and Jazz commonalities

Lidia and Hector Legrand

So far we’ve reviewed the similarities between Argentine Tango and Jazz from their beginnings in the late 19th Century to the 1940s.

To read the start of Part 18 published last month and Parts 1 through 17 of these series, please visit our website You can also visit this website if want to know what’s going on with Argentine Tango in SaddleBrooke.

Due to different circumstances, the 1940s were the most productive decade for both music genres. Argentina was then considered the food pantry of the world and became the fifth largest economy worldwide. It was a good time to be associated with Tango. The repertoire from that decade is still popular all over the world today. The situation in the U.S. was quite different. People wanted to forget the worries and drama of WWII going to dance halls, giving birth to the greatest arrangements and scores of the Jazz Decades, also popular with the general public nowadays.

In the 1950s, Jazz and Argentine Tango start to diverge. Jazz is impacted by several factors that started in the ‘40s: The partial post-war demilitarization; the massive job search by former military personnel; the new responsibilities of newly formed families and their baby boomers; the switch from live music to more affordable radio, incipient TV and recordings made many orchestras economically nonviable. Stan Kenton, Jerry Mulligan, Dizzy Gillespie and others redirect live Jazz to small night clubs and concert halls. The Argentine Tango orchestras are greatly affected by the unstable political environment. Tango composers and performers are under pressures to take political sides that seriously damage its popularity. Add to that the advent of TV in Buenos Aires generating the demand for more affordable small guitar trios accompanying a crooner. Héctor Varela and Horacio Salgán give birth to an environment of Argentine Tango listening rather than dancing.

In the ‘60s Jazz and Argentine Tango continue to diverge. The political divisions within the Tango community started in the prior decade allow the invasion of other genres, broadcast via radio and TV: rock ‘n roll and Latin rhythms from other Latin American countries. Argentine Tango hibernates with the popularity of new crooners such as Roberto Goyeneche. If you want to include rock ‘n roll as part of the Jazz scene in the ‘60s, this decade was defined by Elvis Presley and his many imitators and followers. In 1964 the Beatles emerge to captivate most audiences. This music can be now considered separate from classic traditional Jazz, now a small fraction of what it used to be in terms of popularity.

(To be continued: 1970 – 2010)

About the authors: 2015 is Lidia and Hector’s twelfth year as SaddleBrooke Argentine Tango Dance Instructors of both group and private students. They have been teaching Argentine Tango dancing for seventeen years. They also offer seminars and workshops on Argentine Tango music, history, culture and cuisine. Please visit their website