Oscar Zucchi

e is placed among the generation of tango players of 1910 and he kept this spirit and style up to the mid-fifties. During his very long career as musician he maintained a musical flavor similar to Juan Maglio’s (Pacho). He collaborated with Pacho, and continued and spread the oeuvre of the latter.

He led his orchestra so typical of «the old trend» until approximately 1957 when he disbanded it due to his health problems. His was the most genuine expression among the revivalist grous.

He was born in the neighborhood of Palermo, on 1456 Julián Álvarez Street on March 25, 1897. His parents were Spaniards, Alejandro Pérez and Dolores García.

In an interview in 1974 I asked him about colleagues and musicians: «Among the early bandoneonists I remember El Pardo Sebastián Ramos Mejía who played well and taught. I recall that I saw him on the street where I lived; his skin was not very dark. He was driver of streetcars pulled by horses.

«Another one I remember was the butcher Solari; he owned a bandoneon with gold valve and gold corners. But it was an old instrument without the customary ochavas. Also I remember El Mocho Alfredo Fattini who played by ear. He used to play with Natalín Felipetti, a very old bandoneonist. Also Ávila, Mamierca... Luisito Pérez, another one very well known who always played at cafés.

«José Arturo Severino, known as La Vieja, played very well with both hands; he was a musician. I also heard Alemán Arturo Bernstein, ; he did not play variations. Marino García who played guitar in my orchestra was as well guitarist in Bernstein’s group. Up to 1914 was the period of «la Guardia Vieja»; later came Eduardo Arolas, a good bandoneonist. Variations for bandoneon began around 1923... 1924...»

His first steps to learn how to play the instrument were with Domingo Cichitti, who worked as butcher. He was an intuitive musician who knew very little of music theory but who taught him the elementary notions of bandoneon playing.

Later he studied music theory with Alejandro Gutiérrez del Barrio, violinist, whose brother Ramón played piano. He made his debut when he was only 17 at a grocery store on Las Heras and Bulnes with a trio: Pocholo on bandoneon, Enrique Greco on violin and Elías De Lellis on guitar. The pay was for each one two pesos a night.

In 1915 they switched to a café in La Paternal and from there to cheap bars on Canning and Córdoba Streets and cafés run by «turks», because in that area an important community of Arab origin had settled.

By 1916 the outfit led by Pocholo, he had this nickname from an early age, moved his working area towards the Colón café of Flores, where he appeared with his group which had made an important change of structure: for the first time he substituted piano for guitar.

By joining Juan Maglio’s orchestra Pocholo's popularity increased, not only because he played with the former but also because Maglio, due to his generosity towards his peers, recorded several of his compositions.

«In 1918 I joined the orchestra led by Pacho, which in fact was a quintet: Maglio and i on bandoneons; on violins, Pepino Bonano with his violin-cornet and José Suino, and the pianist Luis Suárez Tapia. Pacho was who brought more taste to tango, he played legato very well. Arolas, instead, was more rhythmical and people liked him more».

«He began at the Bar Domínguez on 1400 Corrientes Street; next door, at the Iglesias Arolas played with the guitarist Camarano and I think that Tito Roccatagliata on violín. I heard Tito in 1924 at the Café ABC with the bandoneonist José Servidio. We used to cut recordings with Maglio in Max Glücksmann for the Nacional label».

They appeared as well at the Select Lavalle and Suipacha cinema theaters, and made a show in Tandil, province of Buenos Aires, where a big snowfall surprised them.

In 1924 he joined the Roberto Firpo Orchestra to play at the first Concurso de Tangos del Disco Nacional (tango contest), where “Sentimiento gaucho” and “Amigazo” were chosen. Probably Firpo’s orchestra then was lined up as follows: piano and conductor: Roberto Firpo, bandoneons: Adolfo Pérez, Francisco Della Rocca, Rafael Rossi, Juan Bautista Guido and possibly Ernesto Bianchi, violins: Elvino Vardaro, Cayetano and Emilio Puglisi and Octavio Scaglione Piscoto and on contrabass: José Puglisi.

After that event, Pocholo led again his own group and appeared during the period between 1924 and 1926 at different venues: Café Colón of Flores, where he had been before, Café Las Orquídeas on Artigas and Yerbal and the Palacio de los Billares on Rivadavia and Pedernera.

In 1924 he started his career on radio with a trio comprised by the violinist Alpidio Fernández, pioneer of our broadcasting, who had begun in 1923 on Radio Cultura —The First Broadcasting of South America— and the bandoneonist Alejandro Scarpino.

In 1927, according to Juan Silbido, the variation of the famous tango composed by “Pacho”, “Sábado inglés” was played for the first time. It was written by Pocholo.

That same year with the pianist Ricardo Olivera he founded the team Olivera-Pocholo that performed on Radio Nacional until 1929.

«Thereafter I split with him and put together a new orchestra that was lined up as follows: in the bandoneon section, Francisco Bonafina, Luis García and I. On violins: Elvino Vardaro, Roberto and Teodoro Guisado, Osvaldo Schelotto on piano and A. Corletto on string bass».

Subsequently he joined the outfit of the female singer Virginia Doris, who had begun on Radio Nacional and switched later to Radio Del Pueblo and Radio Callao.
They appeared on Radio Nacional in 1930 and 1931 accompanying singers and playing many balls. Later they performed on many radio stations: La Voz del Aire, Prieto, Del Pueblo and Porteña. They made some shows at the Luna Park and the Rialto theater on 4287 Córdoba Street, also at the Teatro Nacional on 960 Corrientes Street and at the Smart on the same street.

By 1933 he again played revivalist tango, in the old style. The orchestra was lined up by: Pocholo, Víctor Angulo and Luis García on bandoneons, Roberto Guisado, José Bibiloni and Gerónimo Bongioni on violins, on guitars Marino García, Alfredo Pirilo (sometimes Ismael Gómez and Héctor Acosta), Francisco Russo on flute and the female singer Virginia Doris.

This outfit began to make recordings on August 16, 1934 opening its Odeon series with the release “Lejos de mi bien amado”, waltz by Gerardo Metallo and the tango composed by Arolas “Una noche de garufa”, disc 9130, a series that continued until December 1936.

On the second recording session, dated 20 September that same year, Virginia Doris on vocals appears only on this occasion in her rendition of the waltz “Loca de amor (La loca de amor)”, that on the other side has Bevilacqua's tango, “Independencia”.

In 1935 Virginia Doris split with them to continue her career as soloist with guitar accompaniment. The group led by Pocholo, made a stop in its recordings until 1948 when it began in Odeon, opening the series with the disc nº 30304 that on one of its sides had the tango “Las siete palabras”, of dubious author, but here Maglio is credited as composer, and the waltz by Pocholo, “Gritos del alma”. This second period will last up to May 28, 1956.

At this stage of his career, his orchestra was comprised by the following musicians: on bandoneons, Víctor Angulo and Luis García; violins, Roberto Guisado, Teodoro Guisado and J. Bibiloni; piano: Nicolás Vaccaro; flute, José Casanellas and on contrabass, Miguel Tafuri. In the recordings, the pianist on some tracks was Ismael Alloco and on others, the Potrillo César Zagnoli.

In 1956 the singer Virginia Doris returned and with her he cut his last record, n° 41224. On one side, the tango written by Juan Carlos Cobián and Pedro Numa CórdobaUn lamento”, and on the other side, the waltz “Violetas” by Juan Maglio and Francisco Brancatti.

Besides recording, they appeared on Radio Splendid, Radio Belgrano and Radio Del Pueblo and played at some balls in San Pedro and Junín, province of Buenos Aires.

With his health already in decline, Pocholo disbanded his orchestra around 1957. He died in Buenos Aires, twenty years later.