by Oscar Zucchi
Pianist, leader and composer.
(November 24, 1893 - December 23, 1950)
Full Name: Francisco Juan Lomuto
Pseudonym: Pancho Laguna
is stout body, his tall stature, his strong build, his premature bald head, his thick eyebrows, his rimless eyeglasses, his big hands with fat fingers permanently holding a thin cigarette holder made of sour cherry wood, were in open opposition to his refined spirituality, to his affability of temper and gentlemanliness.
His parents were Neapolitan and liked music. His daddy, Victor, was violinist and some time tried luck in tango. His mom, Rosalia Narducci, pianist, had ten children, and the eldest, Francisco, was taught his early music lessons by her.
Francisco Lomuto was born in the neighborhood of Parque de los Patricios, on November 24, 1893.
Three of his brothers devoted themselves to music: Víctor, was a modest bandoneon and guitar player, with Manuel Pizarro he traveled to France and there he formed a family and settled, he also played in the Bianco-Bachicha orchestra.
Enrique, was pianist and the first of the family in performing before an audience. He even led his own tango orchestra and recorded discs in several opportunities. He was father of the bandoneonist, author and arranger Daniel Lomuto.
Héctor devoted to another type of music, and lined-up an outfit under the name "Héctor y su jazz", and performed for long seasons on the radio, in a great number of balls and made many recordings.
Coming back to Francisco, we can say that apart from the lessons his mother gave him, and a brief time of studies at a conservatory, he had no other teaching but a continuous practice.
When he was 13 he composed his first tango "El 606", alluding to a medicine called Salvarsán, which was prescribed for the treatment of venereal diseases. There is a recording made by the "Banda Municipal de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires".
For several years he worked in music shops, playing the pieces the customers chose.
His first tango was warmly welcome and this encouraged him to compose other ones, which quickly were committed to record: El inquieto and La rezongona, recorded by the outfit Ferrer-Filipotto in U.S.A. for the Victor label. A little bit later the same musicians recorded his "Río Bamba" and "El chacotón". Francisco Canaro, in 1915, recorded "La rezongona" and "Los Dardánelos". Roberto Firpo, recorded "La revoltosa" in 1917.
But the boom was "Muñequita", with lyrics by Adolfo Herschel, which was premiered at theater by the actress María Luisa Notar in 1918. It was also the first work of his that Gardel recorded. The number at issue was also recorded in the United States by the Orquesta Típica Select.
Together with his friend Francisco Canaro, he was promoting the idea of creating an organism to protect the rights of authors and composers.
When his father died he had to afford his family expenses, and he fully devoted to work in music.
The idea of assembling an orchestra made him realize that he was not still ready. So he turned to his friend Francisco Canaro. The latter was playing at the Royal Pigall cabaret so he asked him a "barato" (cheap one), what in the peculiar jargon of the musicians meant that he needed to be allowed to play in the orchestra as a practice. Canaro accepted because besides his friendship with Lomuto, the latter played well, with a nice beat.
Soon he started as piano soloist and also in duet with his brother Enrique who played harmonium. They played on the early radio stations, in this case Radio Sudamericana, placed at the Pasaje Roverano of Avenida de Mayo 560, a few meters from Plaza de Mayo. In the year 1922 he teamed-up a piano duet with Héctor Quesada, so recording eight numbers for the first time.
That same year he lined-up a group to play on the cruisers for tourists traveling from Brazil to the south of our country, Tierra del Fuego, on the ship "Cap Polonio". The name of this ship served as title for a new tango of his.
In the sextet musicians of the level of Manuel Pizarro and Pedro Polito played, both bandoneonists, and Agesilao Ferrazzano and Miguel Tanga on violins.
Already in 1923 he put together his first orchestra to perform on land and record. His musicians were: the bandoneonists Vicente Romeo and Ángel Ramos, the violinists Lorenzo Olivari and Esteban Rovati, Ángel Corleto on double bass and his brother Enrique on piano. Later, Ricardo Luis Brignolo joined them as first bandoneon and he was warmly acclaimed.
On recordings Eduardo Armani on violin, Minotto Di Cicco on bandoneon and the pianist Alberto Castellanos collaborated as sidemen to enhance the sound.
Francisco Lomuto was a very responsible musician, who was quite aware of his technical limitations and for that reason, he early abandoned piano playing to exclusively devote to leading an orchestra.
He performed at the most expensive ballrooms of the period and, following as usual Canaro´s steps, he added to the tango nature of his orchestra, the jazz beat, then calling his outfit "típica y jazz band". Due to this he added new musicians and new instruments: trombone, saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, which became, in the musicians´ language, the reed and brass ("cañerías") section.
In 1926 the 16-year-old bandoneonist Daniel Álvarez, known under the nickname "Sardina" because of his thin body appearance, joined them. This musician brought great personality and strength to the orchestra, where he remained until 1933.
With the appearance of talkies, tango orchestras lost an important work place, some disappeared, others found a place in the "palquitos" of the numerous cafés and others like Lomuto´s, worked in ballrooms or theater stages. At this time orchestras increased the number of their members, due to the poor acoustical conditions of the venues where they played. So went the examples of Lomuto, and the orchestras of Firpo and Canaro.
His orchestra had a very definite personality, a good beat, was stylistically orthodox, and was not after a creative goal, but rather a suitable vehicle for dancing, of a pleasant musicality. On other aspects, it stood out as well for its peculiar endings with the diminished seventh as a sort of trademark.
Around 1929 there were important contributions by the musicians Luis Zinkes, Haroldo Ferrero and the abovementioned Daniel Álvarez, in the bandoneon section. Among the violins, besides Armando Gutiérrez and Carlos Taverna, Leopoldo Schiffrin "El mujik", father of the composer and arranger of film scores Lalo Schiffrin, stood out. The piano was in charge of Oscar Napolitano, the bass player was Alfredo Sciarreta, on clarinet was Carmelo Águila, the Venezuelan Natalio Nappe was on trombone and Desio Salvador Cilota on percussion.
He was one of the preferred musicians of the Argentine society, his orchestras were the delight of the audiences at the Club Progreso, Club Mar del Plata, Trocadero, Escuela Naval, that is to say, of the best choice of the elite of our country.
Following, as usual, the steps of his friend Canaro, in 1932 he began at theater with musical comedies. The first one was "La vuelta de Miss París", with Pierina Dealessi´s theater company. In it the actress Iris Marga premiered his tango "Papanatas" (with lyrics by Antonio Botta) and the singer Fernando Díaz "Aunque parezca mentira" (with lyrics and music by Lomuto).
Later, at the teatro Smart (today, Teatro Blanca Podestá) he premiered "La gran milanesa nacional", and shortly thereafter "La fiesta del tango", in which the orchestras of Pedro Maffia and Edgardo Donato played as well. In 1933 "Descanso dominical", where "La canción del deporte" was premiered and the successful tango "Si soy así", both numbers by Lomuto and Antonio Botta.
In that year Martín Darré replaced Daniel Álvarez as first bandoneon and arranger of the orchestra. This change substantially improved the musical quality of the line-up, due to the innovations brought by Darré.
On August 1, 1936 SADAIC was created and Lomuto was appointed president of the Committee of Organization.
On May 19, 1937 the film "Melgarejo" was premiered, with Florencio Parravicini and Mecha Ortiz, there he can be seen with his orchestra and the singer Jorge Omar who premiered "No cantes ese tango", composed by Lomuto with lyrics by Rodolfo Blas Arrigorriaga.
In 1938 he appeared as well in "La rubia del camino", directed by Manuel Romero, with the stars Paulina Singerman and Enrique Serrano. On that opportunity "La canción del camino" and "Muchachita del campo" were premiered, both with Manuel Romero´s lyrics. In 1947 he toured Spain with his singer Chola Luna.
His last orchestra was, undoubtedly, the best, the most evolved and the tightest he led. The bandoneon section was lined-up by Federico Scorticati, Alfredo Cordisco, Manuel Álvarez and Domingo Greco. The violins were in charge of Carlos Taverna, Ernesto Gianni, José Carli and Otelo Gasparini. The pianist was Juan Carlos Howard, the double bass player was Alberto Celenza and his singers were Alberto Rivera and Miguel Montero.
Francisco Lomuto recorded with his orchestra, between 1922 and 1950, over 950 numbers. His most important refrain singers were Charlo -shared with the orchestra of Francisco Canaro-, Fernando Díaz and Jorge Omar. Príncipe Azul, Jorge Torres, Luis Cáceres, the duet Alberto Acuña-René Díaz and the already mentioned Alberto Rivera and Miguel Montero were also singers of this aggregation.