Juan Manuel Peña

orn in Junín, son of a railroad worker and a housewife, he fell for bandoneon and began to study it with maestro Balduzzi.

Once that Héctor Artola arrived in his town, his father persuaded the great musician to listen to him and, finally, the former recommended him to study with the bandoneonist Calixto SaLLago who lived in the neighborhood of Parque Chacabuco, in the city of Buenos Aires, where he went to take classes.

He had appeared in his town —when he was very young— along with the poets Juan Carlos La Madrid, Alfredo Carlino and Juan Bautista Devoto. When he was twenty-one years old, already a capable bandoneon player, he met Alfredo Gobbi. “Camandulaje”, that incredible tango composed by Gobbi, was in his repertoire. Thereafter he had to serve in the Navy for two years to comply with the military service and afterwards he was employed in a bank.

He played with Dino Saluzzi, Osvaldo Tarantino, Mario Abramovich and Hamlet Greco. He furthered his bandoneon studies with Marcos Madrigal. He came back to Buenos Aires at age 36 to only follow one path: his, that led him to the musical world of tango.

He worked indefatigably; in the Horacio Salgán orchestra with which he traveled to Japan in 1981. He was musical director for Raúl Lavié and, in the same role in Tu cuna fue un conventillo which starred Lolita Torres, Beba Bidart, Eva Franco, Tincho Zabala, Raúl Lavié and Luis Medina Castro.

In 1983, when he was appearing at the famous venue Michelangelo of San Telmo, he was requested to travel to Japan again. It was 1983. He went to the eastern country with his trio which included Guillermo Ferrer (double bass) and Aníbal Berraute (piano) and it became a quintet with the addition of two Japanese violinists in order to back up Ranko Fusijawa on a tour from Tokyo to Osaka.

Later, back in Michelangelo, he accompanied a large number of artists: Claudia Mores, Jorge Sobral, Raúl Lavié, Guillermo Fernández, María Graña, the dancers Nélida and Nelson, the guitarist Cacho Tirao until 1992 when he worked with Horacio Ferrer and Adriana Varela and 1993 with Polaco Roberto Goyeneche.

In 1986 he joined the orchestra led by Mariano Mores with which he traveled to New York and appeared at the Waldorf Astoria as bandoneon soloist. Thereafter, in 1990, as musical director for Libertad Lamarque he went on tour to Brazil, Puerto Rico; in 1992 to Expo Sevilla and Huelva, San Sebastián, Madrid and Valencia. In 1996 they came back to Buenos Aires and appeared in Montevideo.

He was also director at the Club del Vino, the renowned venue on Cabrera Street in Palermo Viejo. The players there used to be Néstor Marconi and his trio that included Leonardo Marconi (piano) and Oscar Giunta (double bass). Others were the singer Luis Cardei with his bandoneonist Antonio Pisano and Las Guitarras Argentinas.

On that venue also artists like Atilio Stampone, Salgán and de Lío, Hugo Marcel, Néstor Fabián, Raúl Lavié used to appear. Furthermore, Buono replaced Daniel Binelli at the latter’s request at the Miguel Ángel Zotto’s show Tango por dos in the United States where they appeared in Tucson, San Diego, Saint Louis and Chicago.

He was also musical director of Una noche en Buenos Aires (August 2001, at the Olimpia of São Paulo) in which Alberto Podestá, Atilio Stampone, Hugo Marcel and Amelita Baltar were guest artists.

Due to José Libertella’s advice, he debutted in Frankfürt with the WDR (German Radio and TV) Orchestra as soloist in the premiere of the Jorge Zulueta’s and Jacobo Romano’s opera Che Buenos Aires. He also appeared with the Red Funk Orchester of Köln and played “La cumparsita”, “El choclo”, “Tres minutos con la realidad”, “Oblivion”.

He was hired by Caño 14, in its third stage, on Vicente López Street of La Recoleta. On that occasion the group led by Buono included: Sonia Possetti (piano), Guillermo Ferrer (bass), Matías Grande (violin).

He appeared in the movie directed by Raúl de la Torre Funes, un gran amor. He impersonated the leader of the group that played in the film. He also wrote the music for the movie Plata quemada.

He worked with the Atilio Stampone’s outfit in Montevideo at the Teatro Solís. With Stampone, Buono has kept a long association. Several tours of Europe, the opening of the Teatro Argentino de La Plata, with Oscar Aráiz and the play Tango en gris, directed by maestro Pedro Ignacio Calderón featuring Julio Bocca. He was with him several times in New York, in Barcelona, Bilbao and other places of Spain, in several cities of Brazil and at the Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires.

As you can see, he is a great tango globetrotter with a long and respectable international experience. Besides the above places he was in Washington, Serbia, Caracas, Stockholm, Curitiba, Nicaragua, Chicago, Panamá, Rome, Mexico, São Paulo, Fortaleza, Manaos, Tel Aviv, Chicago, Montreal, Costa Rica, Colombia and at the Tango Festival of Granada.

He composed the following tangos: “Angelo”, “Retrato de Nana”, “Dos imágenes” recorded by Eduardo Rovira, “Milonga para Batato” dedicated to Batato Barea, “Cuando me visto de negro”, “Rubitango”, co-written with Ernesto Baffa, “Taranta”, dedicated to maestro Osvaldo Tarantino, the milonga “Cafferata”, dedicated to his neighborhood; “Los tontos felices”, “Los dueños del Caño”.

He has recorded several albums: De tangos, fueyes y cuerdas, Orquesta Carlos Buono (in Japan), Eternos tangos (in Brazil), Una noche en Buenos Aires (in Brazil), Rambla de madera, Cuando me visto de negro, 70 veces 7 (in Buenos Aires), all the above with his orchestra. With his sextet: Amigos (with Roberto Goyeneche), Maquillaje and Grandes éxitos (both with Adriana Varela).

Buono, Carlos: Yo... soy músico. Mesa Editorial, Buenos Aires, 2012.
Peña, Juan Manuel. El tango en España, el romance de un siglo. Editorial Abrazos, Buenos Aires, 2010.
Peña, Juan Manuel. El tango en el Teatro Colón. Marcelo Olivieri Editor. Buenos Aires, 2004.
Vargas Vera, René. La noche de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, La Nación newspaper, March 14, 1987.
Zucchi, Oscar D. Una historia del bandoneón. Volume 1. Editorial Corregidor, Buenos Aires, 2002.