Part 18: Argentine Tango and Jazz have a lot in common

Lidia and Hector Legrand

If you are interested in learning more about Argentine Tango and Argentine Tango events in SaddleBrooke, please visit our website where you can also read Parts 1 through 17 of this series.

Jazz and Argentine Tango share similar origins, history and characteristics.

Both were born practically at the same time; they were created and developed by the poor, destitute and discriminated sectors of society while they were simultaneously rejected by the rich. When they both expanded to new geographical areas they gradually climbed upwards in the social strata and eventually musical compositions in both genres were considered classical music. Operas were composed based on both musical styles.

Argentine Tango and Jazz were formally accepted as musical styles during the decade of the 1880s.

In the 1900s musical’s scores and artists representing Argentine Tango and Jazz arrived in Paris, both taking the city by storm.

In the decade of the 1910s, while trios and quintet ensembles that include the Bandoneón (see part 8 of this series) start playing in Buenos Aires, ragtime becomes the popular Jazz expression in the United States. It is interesting to note that both Argentine Tango and Jazz influenced each other with the exchange of musicians in 1913 (more on this in a future series). In 1914 James Reese Europe created a Jazz, Tango and Ragtime orchestra.

In the 1920s an Argentine musician, composer and director by the name of Osvaldo Fresedo (among others), creates a more refined form of Argentine Tango and takes it to the United States. Upon his return to Buenos Aires he forms an orchestra incorporating both Argentine Tango and Jazz instruments.

In the decades of the 1930s both countries suffer under the influence of the Great Depression. With the advent of the talkies people in great numbers distract themselves from their daily troubles going to the movies. Both Argentina and the United States exchange Tango and Jazz movies. Carlos Gardel (see part 11 of this series) is the crooner-star of at least 12 Tango themed movies and scores of musicals starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rudy Vallee and Bing Crosby, etc., end up in Argentina’s movie theaters.

We can safely state that, due to different circumstances, the 1940s were the most productive decade for both Jazz and Argentine Tango. Argentina during that decade was considered the “food pantry of the world” and became the fifth largest economy worldwide.

To be continued 1940-2010.

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