Yordano Revisits His Songs, With A Little Help From His Friends

Elisa Cardona

In 2014, Venezuelan/Italian singer/songwriter Yordano was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of blood cancer. At that point, the then 62-year-old Yordano put all his energies into the task of staying alive. At the same time, a group of artists took up the task of keeping his music alive.

On El Tren de Los Regresos (The Train of Returns), released last month, ten artists, including Franco De Vita, Ricardo Montaner and Carlos Vives duet with Yordano, covering his best known songs. But the project didn’t start that way.

“The initial idea was that each artist would pay tribute with an acoustic version of their favorite Yordano track,” says Alejandro Reglero, head of A&R for Sony Music U.S. Latin, who spearheaded the project. “It was initially going to be solo tracks. But then Yordano got better and he said he wanted to go into the studio. And it ended up being an album of duets.”

Yordano (real name Giordano Di Marzo Migani) rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s along with De Vita and Montaner, fellow Italian-Venezuelans who all wrote Italian-influenced, highly melodic and extremely well-crafted pop in Spanish. The sound was hugely successful and while Yordano didn’t achieve the international superstardom of Montaner and De Vita, he had major hits, particularly in Colombia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. In the U.S., Yordano had two charting tracks on Hot Latin Songs: “Locos De Amor,” which peaked at No. 36 in 1989 and “Madera fina,” which peaked at No. 12 in 1991.

In putting together the tribute, Reglero found an artistic community that started banding together when they heard about Yordano’s illness. “I went to Carlos Vives’ club in Colombia a while ago, and it so happened that he had organized a tribute show for Yordano," he said. "These kinds of tributes started popping up spontaneously.”

Inspired, Reglero flew to New York, where Yordano was undergoing treatment, and pitched him on an album where different artists would cover his songs in acoustic arrangements. The first one he approached was Vives. Then, the list of interested acts began to grow; it now includes fellow Venezuelans Los Amigos Invisibles and Servando y Florentino plus Colombians Andres Cepeda and Santiago Cruz and Peru’s Gian Marco.

Halfway through the process, Yordano felt well enough that he contacted Reglero and said he wanted to make it an album of duets. The final set of 10 tracks features an eclectic array of styles –all the artists involved were given creative liberty—and also finds Yordano recording for the first time ever with Montaner and De Vita.

“This project was done with much love,” says Reglero. “It was an effort from the artistic community to pay tribute to an artist we felt deserved it.”

Listen to our two selections here: