In the early 1940s, after being abandoned by his entire orchestra, Juan D’Arienzo had to start all over and define a new ‘sound’ with a completely different group of musicians. Comparing recordings from 1940 and earlier, one cannot help but notice that D’Arienzo is now leading a different orchestra, of course still a very rhythmical one, but the musical style is not quite the same, it’s actually something new, fresh.
However, I do think D’Arienzo struggled to replace Alberto Echagüe, his most prominent singer. The first singers of this 40s era were Alberto Reynal and Carlos Casares, who, I suspect, were trying to impersonate Echagüe’s voice, adapting a very similar ”macho”, ”tough guy” style. It’s hard to say whether they did that on purpose to get hired, or that perhaps D’Arienzo himself wanted them to do so. In any case, in 1944, the maestro was quick to reaccept Echagüe into his orchestra, despite the earlier betrayal, and, metaphorically speaking, they lived happily ever after.
As a strange exception in this pattern, Hector Mauré (on the left, photo below), his most recognizable singer of the early 40s, had both an entirely different, high voice and a much sweeter singing style. However, this should be put in the context of the simultaneous presence of singers like Reynal and Casares, who seem less important to tango dancers today, but figured in a nice output of recordings too. After the departure of Reynal, in 1942 and 1943 the macho spirit continues with the equally deep and strong voice of Juan Carlos Lamas, who again reminds me strongly of Echagüe’s tough, ”cool” sound in classic 1930s tracks like Nada más and La bruja. Doesn’t this prove my point of D’Arienzo’s ”ex issues”? (joking tone)
Yet, there is something quite special about JC Lamas. Sure, I just highlighted a solid continuity with his rough-sounding predecessors in D’Arienzo’s rhythm gangster club. But as far as I am concerned, Lamas has more emotional depth than whatever other singer D’Arienzo ever came up with (although Jorge Valdez is, for me, a close second). There’s something sensitive and heartfelt in his voice I have always admired, and his recordings are also somehow different than your usual D’Arienzo track. Lamas eventually quit the orchestra because he wanted to travel around and became an actor later. He was neither famous nor prolific as a tango singer, but at least we can remember him with a number of recordings and with this photo below, showing him (on the right) with his two famous colleagues.