Nicolás Foti

ince an early age he was introduced into the world of music by his father that played bandoneon; Pepe at the beginning played that instrument and the accordion as well. But later the piano would be the instrument which allowed him to stand out as one of the most talented players in the history of tango.

In 1955, he made his debut with the orchestra led by Alberto Dávila at a program on Radio Argentina. He was member of juvenile aggregations and joined outfits together with Mauricio Marcelli, Fernando Suárez Paz and Mauricio Svidosky. With some of them he met again in another juvenile ensemble led by Luis Salvadeo (Marcusito) (who was Cátulo Castillo's godchild).

Already in 1956, (at the carnival season) he joined the group Las Nuevas Estrellas del Tango (The New Stars of Tango) and, he also accompanied the singer Eduardo Solano at some dancing rendezvous. By the same time he played at ballrooms known as milongas bravas, such as El Dardo Rojo, in the neighborhood of Constitución, at the Palacio Güemes, and at others with the same features, where , like in the 20s , it was nearly a rite that everything ended up in dreadful bustles.

In 1957, he debuted on Radio Splendid with the orchestra of Ángel Genta, and in 1959, with the one led by Ángel Domínguez, with the singers Osvaldo Ribó and Carlos Almagro, on Radio Splendid as well. He also appeared at the Dragón Rojo, in the neighborhood of Congreso and at the cabaret known as El Avión de la Boca.

In the late 1959, with the outfit Los Embajadores he performed on Radio Belgrano. The members of that group belonged, mainly, to the Horacio Salgán orchestra. Also in 1959 he recorded an LP with the Juan de Dios Filiberto orchestra, in which the female singer Patrocinio Díaz was featured.

Between 1960 and 1962, he played in the orchestras of Ángel Domínguez, Lorenzo Barbero, Emilio Orlando and also on radio El Mundo with Enrique Alessio, with the singer José Berón (Raúl's, Adolfo's, Rosita's and Elba's brother).

Even though his stay at those aggregations made him polish his technique and style, his great chance to be showcased as an excellent player came when Julio Sosa and Leopoldo Federico required him as pianist —in 1962—, to complete with them an unforgettable cycle until November 1964 when Julio Sosa died tragically.

After he recovered himself from the pain, Leopoldo Federico resumed his shows (with Colángelo on piano) and the singers Roberto Ayala and Carlos Gari. Colángelo performed for two years with that group, although he alternatively accompanied Ricardo Malerba on Radio Splendid and also put together a quartet, Cuatro Amigos Para el Tango, which works on Radio El Mundo.

Undoubtedly, Colángelo himself acknowledges that his stay at Federico's orchestra was influential to strengthen his confidence as player and that, surely, he was as well influenced by the great musical quality of his mates: Antonio Príncipe, Osvaldo Montes, Juan José Mosalini, Román Arias, Mauricio Mise, Roberto Rota, Emilio González and Alberto del Mónaco. Nearly all them, principally Montes and Mosalini, lined after what was called the avant-garde movement headed by Astor Piazzolla, and to which Colángelo, undoubtedly belongs to, like Mederos, Binelli, Buono and others.

Even recognizing —as Colángelo himself does—, the influence of Orlando Goñi, because he was the one who played the best piano bass lines, and Francisco De Caro for the change he meant for his time, by the different use of the instrument within the ensembles; the one who writes these lines thinks that Osmar Maderna and Horacio Salgán are those who most contributed to the definitive consolidation of his style that —in my opinion—, blends the high flight of the fantasies by Maderna in “Lluvia de estrellas”, “Concierto en la luna” and “Escalas en azul” with the swing of Salgán in “A fuego lento”.

The definitive consecration came when he joined the orchestra of Aníbal Troilo (replacing Osvaldo Berlingieri), he was his last pianist. With a story Colángelo recalls his debut with Pichuco on November 8, 1968 at the local placed on Diagonal Norte and Florida, Relieve:

«When I arrived with my tuxedo at my hand, Fats came closer, gave me a hug and a kiss, he asked me a coin, and gave me a hand-made Swiss handkerchief. At the end of the show someone from the audience came to give me a very warm salute but also to tell me that he preferred the former pianist, what I told the maestro and he replied: «Boy, I have much confidence in you and you can't let me down». Time later I understood that that attitude in Troilo was coherent with his proverbial paternalism that he exerted with great wisdom».

Three days later they performed at a recital at the Teatro San Martín and that was the tour de force for Colángelo. They played twelve instrumental numbers and Troilo gave him the chance to play the solos according to his feeling. He had passed the most difficult exam of his career.

At his stay at the orchestra of Fats Pichuco, he was also member of the famous quartet that was completed by Ubaldo De Lío and Rafael del Bagno, (later Aníbal Arias replaced De Lío).

Like all the musicians and singers that passed through the ranks of Troilo's orchestra, Colángelo admired and had a respect for Troilo, and he regards Pichuco as the founder of a school of very peculiar and personal characteristics. A different school, which brought to tango values of an enormous magnitude that still today keep that Troilean line (Garello, Baffa, Berlingieri an so many others).

When the television channel 7 made a homage to the late maestro, Colángelo publicly said: «I think that a quite big sun has died down, I hope he has left some scattered beams among us, those who were his friends, mates and admirers».

In 1971, he put together his unforgettable quartet to record a long playing record, here he was with Néstor Marconi (bandoneon), Omar Murtagh (bass) and Aníbal Arias (guitar).

Colángelo joined as well the group Los Solistas del Tango, led by Reynaldo Nichele and which included Eduardo Rovira as bandoneon player and arranger.

Since 1967, he accompanied, with different settings, several male and female singers: Roberto Goyeneche, Alberto Marino, Mario Bustos, Roberto Florio, Héctor Maure, Raúl Berón, Néstor Fabián, Alba Solís, Elba Berón, Carmen Duval, Nelly Vázquez, Susana Rinaldi and others.

In 1971, he played with Troilo's quartet at the Hunter Hall of New York, and also in Washington. In 1972, at the Teatro Colón with the orchestra of Pichuco and in 1973, on the film Esta es mi Argentina in which the orchestra plays “Quejas de bandoneón”, conducted by Leo Fleider. In 1975 he returned to the Colón, at a homage to Carlos Gardel with the Héctor Artola's orchestra.

His first orchestra, put together in 1979 was lined-up with: Lisandro Adrover and Antonio Príncipe on bandoneons; Hugo Baralis, Alberto del Bagno and Mario Arce on violins, and Héctor Console on double bass (on some occasions Enrique Lannoo on cello joined them); his vocalists were Guillermo Galvé and Ana Paula.

Among his compositions, the best numbers were: “Te das cuenta”, “Plazeando”, “Todos los sueños”, “Duende y misterio”, “Fortín cero” (with Ernesto Baffa), “Un piano en la noche” (with Víctor Braña) and “Mamembá” (with García Dávila). They are all instrumentals.

His compositions to be sung were: “Puerta de barrio” and “Mi tormenta”, with Eugenio Palazzo; “Las del humilde querer” with Edgardo Ayala; “Tenía razón”, with Braña and Roberto Casinelli; “Caras del pasado” and “Pa' que me voy a apurar” with Víctor Lamanna; “Cristo”, “Matraquín”, “Aníbal Fuelle” (poem-tango ), “Milonga que canta el pueblo”, “Luna morena”, “Juana Barullo”, “Las rondas de Enero”, “De minuto a minuto” and “Aunque tú me lo niegues”, all with lyrics by José María Tasca. “Una cita en el 2000” a ballad composed by Ricardi, “Me lo diste todo enamorada”, with Ferrari.

The instrumental numbers were recorded, mainly, by his quartet and “Fortín cero” by Ernesto Baffa and by Lorenzo Barbero.

We cannot finish this biography of José Colángelo without remembering his successful prolongued stay at El Viejo Almacén, where he delighted porteños and tourists with sensational renditions.