By
Jorge Palacio (Faruk)

e was undoubtedly a sensitive player and an outstanding composer. About him Julián Centeya said: «His bandoneon, charmed by his hands, is no longer a thing because it acquires all the communicating qualities of flesh and spirit».

He was born on the corner of Anchorena and Córdoba, at the traditional Abasto area. When the kid was 4, his parents —Mario and María— moved to the neighborhood of La Paternal, settling at a house located on 2219 Paramaribo Street (today Fragata Presidente Sarmiento), together with his siblings Alberto and Nélida.

Since a very early age he was attracted to music, and the piano was his preferred instrument. But his father —a zealous tango fan— persuaded him to devote himself to bandoneon and took him to a teacher in his neighborhood.

The crisis of the 30s forced him to give up his musical studies to help with the home economy. For that he worked at a cardboard factory and later at a beam factory.

With the musical knowledge he had acquired he began to work as professional, he was only 14, at the orchestra led by the Cieguito Tarantini. It appeared at the matinées of the Café El Nacional on Corrientes Street. Those performances were not completely successful because Jorge had not achieved yet the necessary experience at playing the instrument. Soon he became aware of his lack of proficiency and went to study with two great musicians: Minotto Di Cicco and Carlos Marcucci. Later he polished his technique with Félix Lípesker.

Then with several hours of studies on his shoulders, Jorge devoted himself to the task of putting together a tango orchestra in his neighborhood. He was not even 15 years old but he had many expectations to be successful. That aggregation was called Orquesta Juvenil Buenos Aires and was lined up by his fellow students and the vocalist was Juan Dionisio Tobares, who later would succeed with the sobriquet Rodolfo Galé. With this outfit he went downtown to appear on Tuesdays to replace the Aníbal Troilo Orchestra at the famous Café Germinal on 900 Corrientes Street.

The players of the orchestra were little by little leaving in search of new horizons and Jorge then had no other choice but joining another group. Then he was hired by Francisco Lauro to join his Orquesta Típica Los Mendocinos, so known because it appeared at the restaurant Un Rincón de Mendoza. Through the ranks of that outfit passed, besides Caldara, players that later were important leaders, such as Bernardo Blas, Juan Sánchez Gorio, Astor Piazzolla and Alfredo De Angelis.

In 1939, he joined the bandoneon section of the orchestra led by the violinist Alberto Pugliese, Osvaldo’s older brother. That year Alberto appeared at the great balls held in summer at a place of the Sociedad Rural de Palermo and also on Radio Del Pueblo. Through the ranks of that orchestra passed the vocalists Roberto Beltrán (Leoncito) and Héctor Pacheco. For a long time it was the main attraction of the cabaret Cote D'Azur, located on 25 de Mayo Street betweeen Corrientes and Lavalle.

In 1944, when he was 20, Caldara had to quit the orchestra because he had to go to the military service at the Regiment of Patricios in Palermo. Thereafter he was allowed to go on playing. So he joined the orchestra led by the bandoneonist Emilio Orlando who appeared on Radio El Mundo with the vocalist José Berón. Jorge, by performing alongside Orlando, was polishing his technique and made himself a leading player, despite being the second bandoneon of the orchestra.

His great move came soon later when he joined the Osvaldo Pugliese Orchestra because in the latter's orchestra there was a complete renewal in the bandoneon section. Alessio, Quiroga and Roscini had quit and were replaced by: Caldara, Gilardi and Castagniaro. Pugliese himself confessed that after auditioning different instrumentalists he chose Jorge because he was what he precisely needed, an element of vigorous personality and capable of driving, within the style of the orchestra, the other bandoneon players.

His tenure with the maestro lasted more than 10 years and during that period he played on Radio El Mundo, recorded several hits, played at dancehalls and made tours. The fans of the outfit much appraised him and highly regarded the hierarchy represented by that unique team that he had formed with his partner Osvaldo Ruggiero. At this stage he as well evidenced his great capabilities as composer which Pugliese knew how to take advantage of by premiering and recording his tangos “Patético” (1948), “Pastoral” (1950), “Pasional” (1951) and “Por pecadora” (1952).

Caldara loved and admired Pugliese to whom he paid homage with his tango “Puglieseando” and his so peculiar version of “La yumba”. However in the late 1954 he split with the orchestra, influenced by his family that was worried by the consequences derived of the political ideas of the leader.

Still in don Osvaldo's orchestra something unexpected happened. At a social meeting Jorge met the Japanese female singer Ranko Fujisawa who was visiting Argentina. The latter, after hearing him play the bandoneon, invited him to Japan so that he would form his own orchestra there. Ranko was, furthermore, Shampei Hayakawa's wife, the leader of the Orquesta Típica Tokyo. Jorge was flattered by that invitation but he preferred to stay and keep on playing with maestro Pugliese.

But time later Ranko returned to our country and made to Caldara the same invitation. This time Jorge was free to choose and did not think it twice; he went to Japan with all his family.

Let us remember that the Juan Canaro's successful tour that had opened the gates to Argentine tango in Japan had already taken place. And because of that the public warmly welcomed him. The bandoneonist did not travel with an orchestra. Instead he put together an orchestra with local players, after a rigorous choice. When the aggregation was perfectly polished, Jorge began his performances. The debut was on Radio Tokyo, appearing later on the Nippon, Binca and N.H.K. radio stations. On television he appeared on the channel J.O.R.K. and at the Kokusai and the Nibiahai theaters, where he played tango concerts and the tickets were sold out. Like Juan Canaro, Caldara signed for Odeon to cut some recordings with his orchestra comprised by Japanese players. He committed to record two tangos for orchestra: Agustín Bardi's “Lorenzo” and “Jueves” written by Udelino Toranzo and Rafael Rossi.

On his comeback to Buenos Aires, after a year of work in Japan, he formed his own group with the vocalists Raúl Ledesma and Carlos Montalvo.

From 1955 to 1960, the following musicians played in his line-up: Rodolfo Mansilla on piano; Norberto Samonta, double bass; Alberto Caracciolo, Alfredo Marcucci, Armando Rodríguez, Jacinto Nieves, Elbio Garbuglia, Carlos Niesi, Daniel Lomuto, Ricardo Varela, on bandoneons; Cesar Rilla, Juan Potenza, Norberto Bernasconi, Roberto Gallardo, Armando Cabrera, Alfio Messina, Eduardo Walczak, Fernando Suárez Paz, on violins.

The debut was on Radio Splendid. Then he began the broadcast with the tango “El irresistible”. He returned to the Odeon company and recorded a couple of pieces with the vocalists Ledesma and Montalvo. The following year he was summoned by Radio El Mundo which used to hire the best tango orchestras of that time.

By the end of 1957 Raúl Ledesma quit and was replaced by Horacio Dugan and later the latter was followed by Miguel Martino.

In 1960, without giving up the direction of his orchestra he was member of the quartet Estrellas de Buenos Aires, alongside the violinist Hugo Baralis, the pianist Armando Cupo and the double bass player Kicho Díaz. This small outfit made successful tours of Latin America, appearing to great acclaim on the Peruvian television and committing to disc some pieces for Odeon, which today are almost impossible to find.

The difficulties that the genre underwent since the 60s forced the leaders to transform their big orchestras into quintets, quartets or trios. However, Jorge Caldara run the risk and put together an orchestra teaming up with the singers Ricardo Ruiz and Rodolfo Lesica.

They waxed for Music-Hall a single disc with the tango “Mi malacara y yo”, sung by Ruiz and Lesica as a duo, and on the other side, the tango “Mis consejos”, with Lesica on vocals. Soon later Ricardo Ruiz left and the aggregation then was called Caldara-Lesica. The team continued its recordings for the same label and cut hits such as the instrumentals “Nochero soy”, “Mi bandoneón y yo (Crecimos juntos)” and “La yumba” and with Lesica on vocals, “Confesión”, “Ríe payaso” and “Por la vuelta”.

Later he recorded a long-playing record with a larger orchestra, lined up by: Rodolfo Mansilla (piano); Jorge Caldara, Miguel Incardona, Omar Nacir y Carlos Goliat (bandoneons); Félix Molino, Antonio Agri, Antonio Magnético, Fernando Suárez Paz, Carlos Arnaiz, Mario Grossi and Mario Abramovich (violins); José Federighi (violoncello); Fernando Romano (double bass). In 1966 Lesica quit and was replaced by Roberto Echagüe, Alberto's son, who stayed for a year but only recorded two tangos; “La novia ausente” and “Madame Ivonne”. He was replaced by Raúl Funes.

From his compositions the instrumentals stand out: “Bamba”, dedicated to his daughter, “Papilino”, dedicated to his son, “Tango 05”, dedicated to the Argentine Air Force, “Mi bandoneón y yo (Crecimos juntos)”, “Cuando habla el bandoneón”, both in collaboration with Luis Stazo, “Sentido”, in collaboration with Daniel Lomuto, “Con T de Troilo”, “Patético”, “Pastoral”, “Puglieseando” and “Patriarca”. Among the tangos with lyrics: “Gorrión de barrio”, his first tango, “Muchachita de barrio” with lyrics by Mario Soto, “Solo, Dios, vos y yo”, dedicated to his wife, with lyrics by Rodolfo Aiello, “Estés en donde estés” with lyrics by Martínez, "Pasional", his most popular piece, “Por pecadora” and “Profundamente”, the three with lyrics by Mario Soto, “No ves que nos queremos”, with Abel Aznar and “Paternal”, with Norberto Samonta.

In 1963, unexpectedly, he received terrible bad news, the medical doctors diagnosed him Badly of Hodgkin (cancer of the lymphatic nodules). His struggle between life and death lasted four years. He died in 1967, a few days before his 43th birthday.