Ricardo García Blaya

egarding this distinguished musician the waters are divided between the connoisseurs and those who do not know very much but nevertheless enjoy our tango music.

For some, he is a faithful exponent of the piano school opened by Osmar Maderna and developed by Horacio Salgán, either as for his style or his virtuosity. For others, that do not deny his artistic capabilities, he lacks the tango flavor and say that he uses jazz forms that denaturalize the genre.

I think that both postures have a part of the truth, but we go back to the ever-present issue: the individual taste. Furthermore, it is very difficult to simplify his style with an absolute definition, because it’s not the same the Berlingieri that played with Aníbal Troilo as the one that later teamed up with Ernesto Baffa or, even less, the present one.

Horacio Ferrer describes him as follows: «...he evidenced since the beginning, an admiration for the styles of light pulse, tending to rather fast tempos and melodies laden with abundant designs like those of Salgán and Maderna. Upon that scheme he was shaping his individuality: a left hand with good sense to drive the orchestra and a fast, nervous right hand inclined to virtuosity. And, in both hands, a generous flow of ideas, in which certain harmonic reminiscences of jazz, the ostensible moody attraction to the extremely rubato phrasing and his facility for improvising on the arrangement...»

He was born in Haedo, province of Buenos Aires. His professional stage began in 1944 as pianist of the orchestra backing Héctor Mauré. Later he joined many aggreagtions: Domingo Federico, Joaquín Do Reyes, Edgardo Donato, Lucio Milena, Héctor Varela, Emilio Balcarce, Roberto Caló and, probably, I am forgetting some others.

He also toured Central America when he was called by the singer Raúl Iriarte to lead his orchestra.

But his ascending flight took place when he joined the Troilo’s orchestra to replace Osvaldo Manzi. With Pichuco he had nearly an eleven-year tenure, from September 24, 1957 to May 1968. He was member of the latter’s last quartet with Ubaldo De Lío (guitar) and Rafael del Bagno (double bass).

During 1959, he simultaneously joined two small groups: the trio Los Modernos, along with other musicians of Troilo: Alberto García (bandoneon), Alcides Rossi (double bass), later José Pro and the singer Roberto Goyeneche, and the quartet Los Notables del Tango, with Leopoldo Federico (bandoneon), Leo Lipesker (violin) and Omar Murtagh (double bass).

With both he recorded. With the trio he cut a dozen recordings, of which we highlight: García’s “El guardián”, Berlingieri’s “Ciudad en gris” —two instrumental tangos—, and “Yo te perdono” and “Tamar” sung by El Polaco. With the quartet he recorded four numbers: “Ciudad dormida”, that he also composed, Julio De Caro’s “Mala junta”, “Contrabajeando” and “Lo que vendrá” written by Astor Piazzolla.

Besides having collaborated with Libertad Lamarque conducting her accompaniment, in 1965 he put together another small outfit with Ernesto Baffa that, two years later, would become a well-remembered orchestra, with Goyeneche on vocals. The latter in the peak of his career. The recordings of the Baffa-Berlingieri team and the fair-haired singer are unforgettable.

He collaborated with Héctor Stamponi in the orchestra that backed Edmundo Rivero in his last recordings and with Atilio Stampone’s, in the recordings with Goyeneche.

Some time later, he formed another trio with Leopoldo Federico and the bassist Fernando Cabarcos which recorded over 30 instrumentals for the Victor label. Their output was a blend of classics of the genre with new tangos.

After the mid- 70s he was hired as musical director by the Spanish singer Nati Mistral with whom he made several tours. Some of them of Japan.

In 1989 with his own orchestra he released a compact disc: Identificación that included 14 numbers. The first of them was a very good rendition of “Taconeando”.

As composer, we can mention, among others, the instrumentals: “Ciudad dormida”, “Siempre otoño”, “A mis viejos”, “El resuello”, “Pisciano”, “Compadrita mía”, “Contacto en Buenos Aires”, “Ritual”, “Tiempo imaginario”, “Ciudad en gris”; besides “Tamar” with lyrics by Oscar Núñez, “Che Discepolín”, with Héctor Méndez, “Milonga que canta el aire”, with Héctor Negro and “Un episodio más”, with Luis Filipelli.

It would turn out overwhelming to trace all his career until his last days, but we can affirm that he played and worked as if time would not passed by, delighting his audience at the most important Buenos Aires venues, and expressing, always his special conception of tango.