Archive for the ‘ Guitarist ’ Category

1926, July 19 – ROSITA QUIROGA RECORDS “PATO”

In lunfard0, the Buenos Aires dialect,  the word “Pato” means “poor”…the lyrics say, “I saw you pass by with a haughty air, your face all made up, in an elegant car with your rich woman…I said “Hi” and you pretended not to know me but I know you and you were poor and you will always be poor…one day that woman will leave you and you will be back to scrounge in our neighborhood !…the music and lyrics were composed by Ramon Collazo who was born in Montevideo in 1901 to a struggling Italian immigrant family…as a composer, he had a number of successes but non more than “Pato” which was also recorded by Carlos Gardel in Spain…Rosita Quiroga was the first female tango singer in the payador tradition…she grew up in a destitute family but in her life she would achieve fame and financial success even though she ended her career at the age of 35; she was not fond of public performances…

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She learned to play guitar from the legendary Juan De Dios Filiberto who was her neighbor in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires…in her singing, she unashamedly used the slang and the vulgar language she heard in her neighborhood from the dock workers and cart drivers…her first tango was “La Tipa” recorded around 1923…one journalist called her “the Piaf from the outskirts of Buenos Aires”…she continued to make occasional radio appearances; she was the first tango singer to be heard in Japan in 1938; she would return there 32 years later…in 1976 she was cajoled to appear in her only film “El Canto Quenta Su Historia” in which also starred Anibal Troilo, Tita Merello and Angel D’agostino…in 1984 she made her last recording “Campaneando Mi Pasado” for which she wrote the music; the lyrics were written by Luis Alposta who besides being a noted lyricist was also her personal physician…32 days later she would pass away at the age of 88

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1879, July 9 – EUSEBIO ASPIAZU IS BLINDED !

It had finally arrived, Independence Day and like most 14 year olds, Eusebio Aspiazu was excited…there were the festivities, the girls,the music and of course the fire works display…he lived with his mother, his father had passed away some years earlier…that evening as he was about to leave the house, she seemed more concerned than usual, “be careful tonight son”, “I’ll be ok mom” he answered as he rushed out…the fireworks had started and Eusebio was  thrilled…at a certain point, his curiosity got the best of him and he decided to get near the launching site where the technicians were lighting the rockets…he was very close now but all of a sudden something went wrong, one of the canisters hissed, flared and finally exploded engulfing Eusebio in a powder flash….Eusebio screamed in pain…at the hospital the doctors delivered the tragic news to his distraught mother; the optic nerve had been damaged beyond repair and he would be blind for the rest of his life

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His mother was his first guitar teacher and later he studied violin and piano and in his arduous recovery, he discovered that he had a special musical ability and it became his life…still a teenager he began playing in a variety of musical groups in the dance halls and cabarets of his day…he was part of the birth of the first tangos in history; tangos like “El Queco” which was composed by Eloisa De Silva, the first woman in histoy to compose a tango…in time “El Cieguito” (the blind boy)  began to develop a name for himself…the dawning of the new century was the dawning of tango; for “El Cieguito” the quality of the gigs were beginning to improve and he found himself playing alongside tango’s trailblazers like Luis Teisseire, Ernesto Ponzio, Juan Carlos Bazan, Enrique Saborido…he may have been the inspiration of Sebastian Piana for his celebrated tango “Viejo Cieguito”…eventually Eusebio  met a girl and married and had children…after a few years another tragedy befell him…a cholera epidemic which since 1867 had periodocally ravaged Argentina, took the life of his wife and in spite of his handicap, he took over the care of the family and continued working…little is know of his life other than that he was present at the birth of tango and that he was a descendant of slaves…non of his compositions or photos of him have survived

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1922, July 5 – BIRTH OF OSCAR LARROCA

Singer, Composer (Cancer) – One day his father, himself a musician, tried to warn young Oscar of the sacrifices that had to be made in pursuing a career in music but Oscar looked intently at his father and with youthful self assuredness said, “I know father but I want to become a singer“….in 1976 at the age of 54, basking in the rewards of a life of sacrifices; a beloved singer throughout Latin America he suddenly passed away…one of his last words was remembering the love and encouragement of his father…his father, an Italian immigrant was a guitarist and a gaucho style singer was Oscar’s first guitar teacher; he later enrolled Oscar in the conservatory from which he graduated as a certified guitar teacher at the age of sixteen…Oscar Larocca was born in the neighborhood of Almagro, Buenos Aires and years later his recording of a tango in honor of his neighborhood would be one of his major hits; in fact it would become part of his repertoire for the rest of his life…

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Still barely a teenager, Oscar began singing  in the neighborhood bars and cafe accompanying himself on the guitar to the delight…an early break came when he was invited to sing on the highly popular “La Famosa Matinee de Juan Manuel” on Radio Mitre…in 1945 the journalist Carmelo Santiago heard him sing and recommended him to the orchestra leader Domingo Federico; it is for Federico that he made his first recording, “Pasaje de Mi Vida”…along with the great pianist Osvaldo Manzi he formed an orchestra in which he and the legendary Roberto Ray were the vocalists; they were immensely successful on Radio Blegrano…In the 40s the renown Carlos Dante left the Alfredo De Angelis Orchestra and violinist Victor Brana recommended Oscar to De Angelis who summoned him for an audition; out of hundreds of candidates he was hired…on April 1, 1951 they debuted on the celebrated Glostora Tango Club; his first recording for De Angelis was “Flores De Fango”….as a composer, he best piece was the waltz “Enganandonos” which was recorded by several Latin American singers

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1881, June 16 – BIRTH OF MODESTO OCAMPO

Composer, Guitarist, Violinist (Gemini) – his paternal gandparents Agustin Ocampo and Angela Vilaza came to Argentina in leg irons; they were slaves from the Congo…although Modesto Ocampo was brought up in extreme poverty in Montevideo’s tough “Barrio Sur”, where two other tango pioneers of African descent Lagrima Rios and Carlos Olmedo also grew up, he was also given the gift of a loving family which would manifest itself in kindness and generosity as an adult…this, along with his musical ability, would earn him the respect of his community and in his mature years the honorary, “Don Vito”….out on the streets the young Modesto learned to defend himself and he was renown for his courage…in a famous incident, Modesto was the bandoneon player with a trio auditioning at the Cafe Boedo in Montevideo whose owner reportedly said “I like you guys very much except for black guy; he is too black for this place“, where upon the leader of the trio responded, “he is a good musician and has a big heart and so if he leaves we all leave”

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As a child his teachers began to notice two talents, music and drawing…in fact he would pursue studies in violin, guitar and painting…in 1903 he moved to Buenos Aires to work as an apprentice in the laboratory of Bixio Photo Shop; in time he would become the manager…at the age of twenty-four he married his childhood sweetheart Paula Perez and it was in between the birth of his two daughters that he composed his two tangos  “Queca” and “Te Amo Con Delirio”…”Queca” was recorded first by Vicente Greco and later by Francisco Canaro…he played for many years with the Famiglietti Orchestra with whom he became celebrated for his impassioned virtuosity with the Bandoneon; later he opened his own photo shop…in his later years he would lock himself away in his attic to paint; in 1946, in Buenos Aires, he organized the only exhibition of his work…true to his nature, he gave away his paintings to admirers and friends….at the age of seventy-nine, with his beloved wife and daughters at his side, he passed away in the same house that his grandfather Agustin Ocampo, African slave, had lived in

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1944, June 1 – ROBERTO CHANEL RECORDS “TORTAZOS”

“I am not as bad as people think, I am actually getting better”… Roberto Chanel kept up a courageous front…he began having trouble with his eyes at the age of 45 and at the age of 50 he was almost blind and then he had a stroke which greatly diminished his physical capacity…until the end he played his guitar everyday but now he could only hum the tangos which had made him famous and for a while wealthy…but now he was struggling and his fellow musicians held a fund-raising event for him which helped him survive but at the age of fifty-seven, with his guitar next to him, he passed away…the poor boy, son of Neapolitan immigrants had come a long way…he was born in the neighborhood of Caballito, Buenos Aires the youngest of five siblings…their father, an accomplished accordion player, encourage his children to play guitar and sing….they put together an adolescent musical group and played in the local festivals and cafes for donations…

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They began to make appearances on the local radio stations including Radio Paris and Radio Splendid…Roberto dreamed of being a singer and he continuously entered talent contests non of which he won but he was determined…he made friends with pianist Armando Cupo who recommended him to “El Ciequito” Tarantino with whose band he debuted as a singer at the well-regarded Cafe Nacional…Osvaldo Pugliese also happened to be performing at the Cafe Nacional and when one day he was looking for a singer, the manager recommended Roberto Chanel; upon hearing him, Osvaldo hired him immediately…his first recording in July of 1943, “Farol” with lyrics by Homero Exposito was a hit; his second hit was the milongas “Tortazos” by Jose Razzano which he recorded on June 1, 1944…when he separated from Pugliese he went to sing for Florindo Sassone with whom he would record 16 tracts after which commenced his period as a soloist…as a composer his best hit was “Oracion Rante” which Carlos Yanel had much success with his recording of it in 1954

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1912, May 14 – BIRTH OF ALFREDO GOBBI

Leader, Composer, Violinist, Pianist (Taurus) – through his unique way of feeling and expressing tango, this shy and sensitive violinist was to a major influence on legendary figures who followed him….the great Astor Piazzolla idolized Gobbi speaking frequently of his influence and dedicating to him his renown “Retrato de Alfredo Gobbi”…Alfredo Gobbi was born in Paris; his father Alfredo Eusebio Gobbi, originally from Uruguay, was himself a celebrated singer and composer and one of the early pioneers of tango….along with his wife Flora they formed a celebrated duo “Los Gobbis” who were a hit in Paris…working with them there was the legendary Angleo Villoldo who would also become Alfredo’s godfather…in time the couple returned to Buenos Aires and Alfredo grew up in the neighborhood of Villa Ortuzar…Alfredo began studying violin and it soon became evident that he was a gifted musician…his father dreamed of seeing his son as a great classical violinist but against his father’s strenuous opposition, Alfredo began to gravitate toward tango…

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Alfredo began working as a “canillita” on the streets selling oranges to raise money to get into the Select Lavalle Cabaret to see the Julio De Caro Orchestra…at age thirteen he made his professional debut playing in modest sidewalk trios…his first break occurred when the legendary Juan Maglio “Pacho” asked him to join his orchestra and later he joined the  Elvino Vardaro Quartet where his two young companions, Anibal Troilo and Osvaldo Pugliese, would one day would be legends…at the age of thirty, he formed his own orchestra which debuted at the San Souci Cabaret and soon after that, they headlined on the influential Radio El Mundo….Alfredo had composed his first tango “Perro Fiel” (Faithful Dog) at the age of 14; many more were to follow including the hit, “Un Tango Para Chaplain”…many singers would form their careers with Alfredo Gobbi including Tito Landò, Alfredo Del Rio and Carlos Yanel…he appeared in three films “Barranca Abajo” in 1937, Loco Lindo in 1936, and Amalia, also in 1936, and directed Luis Moglia Barth who three years earlier had premiered the first sound film in Argentina,  “Tango”

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1902, May 10 – BIRTH OF JEVEL KATZ, “THE JEWISH GARDEL”

Singer, Poet, Comedian (Taurus) – lying in his hospital bed, weak and emaciated he was nevertheless jovial and continued  singing even parodying his own situation…Jevel Katz was in fact “the happiest of all jews”…unexpectedly, he finally passed away at the age of thirty-seven from post op infection…when news of his untimely demise spread, people were incredulous, how could someone who had brought so much joy be dead…at his funeral, the out pouring of love from 40,000 people was unexpected; it was surpassed only by the funeral of Carlos Gardel five years earlier; in fact posthumously Jevel became known as “the Jewish Gardel”…Jevel Katz was born in Vilna Lithuania to a struggling family…as a young boy he began working in a print shop where he was soon entertaining his fellow workers…at the age of twenty-seven he decided to follow his brother to Buenos Aires; just a few years later most of Vilna’s sizable and influential Jewish community would perish in Nazi death camps

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From the moment of Jevel’s arrival in Buenos Aires he fell in love with the city and the country and he decided he would pursue a career in show business….he developed a character, “a street singer”,  who, with spontaneity and grace, parodied everyday life…he was sometimes dressed in a tuxedo or as a gaucho or even as a woman…like Walter Yonsky, he was part of the Jewish theater tradition in Buenos Aires…he would take popular songs and sing them in a dialect of his own invention “castidish” which was a mixture of Yiddish and Spanish and lunfardo…he performed mainly in jewish neighborhoods but also on special programs on Radio Belgrano…he composed over 5oo songs in diverse genres including rancheras, tangos, and fox trots…he was self-taught in a number of musical instruments and used others which he had personally invented…he had signed a contract to perform in the United States, a dream come true…he entered the hospital to have a tonsils related type operation but in recovery he apparently suffered a post op infection resulting in a coma from which he never awoke

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