Interview to the violinist Reynaldo Nichele
was born on June 1st, 1918 in Argentina, in the city of Zárate. It was by chance, my birthplace ought to have been in Montevideo because my family lived there. My father was Italian and Mom was Uruguayan. Dad worked as technician in refrigeration and the enterprise unexpectedly sent him for a few days to Argentina and I was born before the expected time. Some days later I was back in Montevideo.
I only attended grammar school, I didn't go to secondary school. My instruction is primary school and "cabaret". Grade school was mixed with music studies. Imagine that at age thirteen I started professionally. It was on the Christmas eve of 1931 at the Casino of Carrasco with the Carlos Warren's orchestra.
I studied with a virtuoso violinist whose name did not become well known because he was a shy man. His name was Carlos Giucci. Edgardo Donato studied with him as well, but he used to dismiss Edgardo very often because the latter liked to play the fool and played pizzicato when it was not expected and other similar things, but he later accepted him again.
My early years were spent in cabaret, tango and even jazz groups. I was with Juan Baüer, we became friends with "Quico" Artola... He looked like a blown out match, he was slim, tall and dark, but one day he went to Buenos Aires. Soon thereafter and affairs with "women"... well, a woman brought me here too. I began with small stints until Troilo, whom I already knew, called me to join his first orchestra, the one that made its debut at the Marabú on July 1st, 1937.
I had a two-year tenure with "Pichuco" and later Roberto Zerrillo called me to accompany Libertad Lamarque on her tours, but I made no recordings with her. Thereafter I was unemployed, there were long walks along Corrientes Avenue but no job. One day I met Troilo and even though his orchestra was complete, as he was quite generous, he hired me and then I went on without a stop for twenty years.
Troilo did fine until the fifties, later his decline began, he went downhill. Finally I was tired and I split with him. I joined the National Symphonic Orchestra after an examination, the director of the admission board was its conductor himself, Juan José Castro. That was also a twenty-year tenure.After that I retired. I played many gigs on television and joined many orchestras to accompany foreign singers then in vogue who came to our country on their tours.
I never put together an orchestra of my own but due to the lack of jobs Eduardo Rovira (bandoneon), Atilio Stampone (piano) and Fernando Romano (bass) and I had to form a quartet. Orlando Trípodi and José Colángelo played also with us replacing Stampone. We made several tours and frequently appeared on radio, but in order not to repeat ourselves they suggested that we would change our group's name. So for a time it was the Rovira's quartet, the Stampone's 4 and mine too. When it was my turn we had to record several cassettes to be sold in Japan, then it appeared as Cuarteto Reynaldo Nichele.
If you want to know about Fiorentino... well, he was a friendly singer, and so he was as a person. Troilo knew how to lead his vocalists. As there was a lot of work he called "Tano" Marino to help us but the "Tano" began to reach much acclaim and that, possibly, hurt "Fiore". And he left. He was wrong in splitting with Troilo, he was never the same.
Among Troilo's musicians, Orlando Goñi was the one who stood out most, he was great, he was unique. When there were no arrangements he did it all. There was a bandoneonist, Alberto "Pajarito" García, who replaced "Fats" (el gordo) when he began to play nothing. Troilo moved his fingers but the first player was García. Many did not realize that. José Basso had a great strength, we called him the furious one. I liked Osvaldo Manzi, he was very delicate, but he was another thing. Piazzolla was a great technician and wrote arrangements with his innovations but Troilo stopped him, otherwise the former would have changed his style. "El Gato" was somewhat difficult and also jodón, fond of heavy jokes. He had an inclination for certain rhythmical patterns, he spent most of his time listening to Bela Bartok, Schonberg, Webern, all the modern composers whose works emphasized rhythm, and that was what caught him. He was more rhythm than melody. He was understood abroad, but not here, it was a very sudden change.
And D'Arienzo? ... For years I've been quarrelling with my mates when they complain that there are very few gigs. I tell them that the appearance of another D'Arienzo would save us. Then young people would go dancing, new orchestras would spring up, television would be interested... in that case, later we would appear in the scene, the good guys, and would spoil it all once again.
O yes, Di Sarli was a
monster. His playing was tango itself. There was no one better. He
was marvelous. Rhythmical patterns, his way of handling the bass lines,
the danceable beat. He together with Goñi
and Francisco De Caro were
the best pianists.
And I ?... I always played tango. And in what sort of places!, cabarets and the cheapest. So I learnt "the licks".
At a cabaret in Uruguay I was introduced to Gardel, he greeted me and was surprised that at my young age I was playing there. I also backed Malena de Toledo for several months. We became friends, she was going out with a partner of mine and I, with a friend of hers. I think that Manzi wrote a portrait of her, he was inspired by her when he heard her sing, because in fact he had a hoarse strong voice, the two recordings I heard do not represent her true voice, in public she did not sound like that. She conveyed a deep feeling of sadness, of estrangement, she would even sit alone at a distant table. But she was no more than a cabaret female singer. When she was requested an encore she always sang "Lamento boricano".
I made many tours of Europe, many times of Japan and other countries of Asia. I traveled with Osvaldo Requena, with Carlos García, with Néstor Marconi...
Nichele got ill one month before another trip with Requena. With the latter he argued very often but they loved each other very much. He died the very same morning that the group departed. It was on April 25, 1998.