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El Choclo (“Kiss of Fire”)

Digital Sheet Music

By F. Leslie Smith

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Brass Quintet - Intermediate - Digital Download
Arranged by F. Leslie Smith. Score, Set of Parts. 28 pages. Published by Sweetwater Brass Press (H0.837223-SC001195920).

Item Number: H0.837223-SC001195920

    That most sensual of ballroom dances, the tango, originated during the 1880s along the Río de la Plata, the confluence of the Uruguay and Paraná rivers. It got started among the enslaved peoples and the lower classes, became popular and eventually spread to other countries.  
    The tango is closely identified with Argentina, and Argentine musician Á.G. Villoldo was instrumental in developing the music of the dance. He supposedly wrote this particular tango to celebrate the proprietor of a nightclub, a gentleman whose nickname was “El Choclo” (in English: “The Corn Cob”!).
    “El Choclo” premiered in Buenos Aires in 1903 and became one of Argentina’s most popular tangos. Dance orchestras recorded instrumental versions of "El Choclo." It achieved widespread popularity in the United States in 1952 when Lester Allen and Robert Hill provided it with English-language lyrics and a new name: “Kiss of Fire.” A number of singers made recordings of “Kiss of Fire” that year, the most popular of which was that of Georgia Gibbs; her “Kiss of Fire” disc reached the top spot on the Billboard chart.
    The melody for “El Choclo” is exciting, stirring, stimulating, electrifying; in other words, perfect for a brass group. In this arrangement Horn in F has the melody throughout much of the piece, but Trumpets, Trombone and Tuba also take turns with the lead. The piece opens in the key of D minor, switches to D major (for the part of the melody that was not in the Georgia Gibbs version) and finally goes back to D minor for the recap of the main melody and a dramatic conclusion. The suggested tempo is 120 but may certainly be played faster. All notes are within the normal playing range of the five instruments. However the Tango rhythm lies mostly in the bass line, so Tuba and sometimes Trombone have frequent octave and octave-plus jumps.
    Completed in 2020, performance time for “El Choclo” runs about 2 minutes, 50 seconds. The arranger, Les Smith, will be happy to provide substitute parts (for example, treble clef baritone for trombone) at no charge; contact him directly at For more arrangements by Les, enter "Sweetwater Brass Press" (without the quotation marks) in the SheetMusicPlus search box.

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