Julio Nudler

e was born in Buenos Aires, in the neighborhood of Floresta. Later he moved and lived for 35 years in El Once. His mother, Elisa Balagula, had come from Ostrow, Poland. His father, Arie Goldfinger, was also from Poland, but from Lodz.

Arie worked at a raincoat factory owned by Leiser Madanes, a cousin of his. The latter also lodged him at a room on Rauch Street (today Enrique Santos Discépolo).

He gave Elisa a sum of money once a month which scarcely helped to feed and clothe their children. The whole family lived in a single room. Arie was fond of reading and spoke five languages but he was also a fan of horse races and used to go to the racing track very often.

José learned the craft of working with a mechanical lathe at an industrial school but what he really wanted was singing even though he neither studied music nor singing. He only studied vocalization. His voice and his ear would suffice for him. He used to sing in the neighborhood, always a capella, and always excerpts of tangos because he did not know complete lyrics by heart.

Once near his house, at the Cafe El Motivo, on Córdoba and Pueyrredón, he sang for some of his friends. There Ángel Gatti, the author of “Corrientes angosta” heard him. The following day he took him to the cafe located on Callao 11, on whose basement the singer Argentino Ledesma used to sing. The singer had become a soloist and Gatti introduced José to the former.

Ledesma then was appearing at the Maipú Pigall, accompanied by the Jorge Dragone’s orchestra and needed someone to perform at the first section. José auditioned for him bits of “Tomo y obligo” and “Lo han visto con otra” and they agreed he had to debut. On that Saturday he sang at the Wilde club and on Sunday at the Racing Club of Zárate. He only sang one or two tangos on that occasion.

It was in Wilde where his sobriquet was born. Ledesma had thought that that boy with Polish parents needed a nom de guerre and he decided that the name of a character he had impersonated in the movie El Asalto would fit him. The character had been a bully with a neckerchief and hat that sang a tango. Since then Goldfinger has been Aguirre according to an unwritten law which states that a Basque surname may have a tango flavor like a French, a Spanish or an Italian one. A quality that a Jewish name can never share. Anyhow, for the milieu which always is right, Carlos Aguirre was The Russian.

With Ledesma-Dragone it was a one-year tenure but he knew that with them he would always play second fiddle. The story changed when Mapera —Miguel Ángel Pepe—, the composer of “Un solo minuto de amor”, introduced him to Aquiles Roggero. The latter was the leader of the Orquesta Símbolo «Osmar Maderna» and was looking for a baritone voice as a foil for Adolfo Rivas. The audition was on Radio El Mundo. There were tens of contestants but the proceeding was brief: he sang and immediately he joined the orchestra.

Soon thereafter he recorded the milonga “Papá Baltasar” in the old RCA-Victor studios on Bartolomé Mitre Street. Later he would cut “Te llaman malevo”. But in the late 50s tango was in full decline and two years after he had joined them, the outfit was dismembered. He went to Montevideo, hired by the Teluria tango venue. There also appeared a scarcely known folk singer: her name was Mercedes Sosa.

To improve his income the singer got a job in a real estate agency. He lived at a tenement house on Eduardo Acevedo Street where the Negra Sosa and her husband were also lodged. On Aguirre’s recommendation she worked as a freelance household maid. Years later, when Mercedes was a consecrated figure, they met by chance in Tres Arroyos, a city of the province of Buenos Aires. It was an evening with hugging, weeping, memories but it was also the last time they met.

In the late 1962 he returned to Buenos Aires and the singer Carlos Aldao introduced him to La Guardia Nueva del Tango, an orchestra headed by the violinist Dante Yanel. The members of that aspiring group which played at the Grill Español, on Avenida de Mayo and Salta, were the pianist José Colángelo, the violinist Mauricio Marcelli and the bandoneon players Alejandro Prevignano and Raúl Oscar Salvetti, among others. They appeared in the 555 Club on Radio El Mundo, at the carnaval balls of ‘63 in the Rural, in the Sunday afternoons at the Centro Lucense and at the sumptuous Tabarís to great acclaim.

One evening an outstanding person turned up at the Tabarís. When he left he sent a message to Aguirre: «I’ll be waiting for you at home, Maipú 746», signed: Alfredo De Angelis. Was it a joke? At first he hesitated but finally he went. The composer of “Pastora” and “Pregonera” had clear objectives. The wanted to reissue his famous duos, especially Carlos Dante’s and Julio Martel’s. He had just included the singer Alberto Cuello and so he asked Aguirre if he was able to sing a second voice. The singer admitted he didn’t, he had never done it before. When he was almost hopeless, don Alfredo’s wife helped him: «Poor boy, it seems he’s willing, please teach him the second.», she begged to her husband. De Angelis agreed. He sat at the piano and patiently taught him.

With a great effort, Aguirre passed the audition and had a fifteen year tenure in the orchestra from 1964. He was in the three final years of the Glostora Tango Club, «a date with the successful youth».

Even though it was a difficult period for tango, the orchestra held out because of its popularity, either in the interior of Argentina or in several Latin American countries. However, the repertoire, influenced by commercial engagements, was gradually including foreign numbers. Aguirre had to stand this situation. He recorded from “Love story” to “Pobre mi madre querida”. Anyway, he as well recorded tangos: “De igual a igual”, “Volvamos a empezar”, “Paciencia”, “Las cuarenta”, hits by previous vocalists with De Angelis.

A curiosity of this orchestra, with which Aguirre recorded nearly a hundred tracks, is that many of the players that comprised it in 1979, when De Angelis decided to dismember it, were the same ones that had played in its debut in 1941. This year the bandleader put together a new aggregation with young players and so he sent the old ones back home. Because of that the vocalist began a new stage. He cut some recordings with the sextet led by Pascual Mamone (El Cholo), and with the orchestra fronted by the pianist Oscar Martínez. But the best period of his show business career was now only a memory.

The singer´s mother was always present. She used to follow him to dancehalls, and even shared the tours with Isabel, De Angelis´s wife. For Aguirre, his mother was like his sweetheart, a sweetheart only seventeen years his senior. Mother and son were very close together. She died at age 56 and he remained single.

His choice of singer was Floreal Ruiz and he always dreamed of singing with Horacio Salgán. With Floreal he shared the bill at El Abasto in the 60s, with the Trío Yumba at Ernesto´s on Corrientes and Gallo.

Aguirre always minded his voice, he was careful: he did not smoke, he did not drink, he did not lead a disordered life. But he hardly slept. He used to get up at seven to go to his job. He worked as a clothes salesman. It was a resource he had to turn to when gigs were but a few. But in the textile milieu happened the same as in tango: all of a sudden labor sources began to disappear and importation razed the market.

This is the story of a professional singer who had to face the most difficult times of our tango.