Néstor Pinsón

e was born in Durazno, Uruguay and died in Buenos Aires. The obituary published in the Clarín newspaper, two days after his death, said:

«At age 91 the Uruguayan pianist César Zagnoli passed away. His launching into music took place in 1935 when he came to know Juan D'Arienzo who invited him to join his orchestra in Buenos Aires and to play at the El Chantecler cabaret.

«Here he lived until the mid- fifties, later he came back to his country. A few days ago he returned as he usually did to spend Christmas time with his son but death caught him by surprise. His remains will be sent back to his fatherland».

Juan Carlos Legido, in his book La orilla oriental del tango (1994) presents a brief biography:

«His father, of Italian origin, was the leader of the Municipal Band of Durazno. He was who placed him on the road to music. In 1924 he was beginning his professional career by playing piano at the Artigas movie theater. He played a music background for the silent movies.

«Eleven years later when he was playing at the Capitol cabaret (on Ituzaingó and Piedras) in Montevideo D'Arienzo discovered him.

«In Argentina he carried out a vast career. He passed through the ranks of the orchestras led by Eugenio Nobile, Juan Canaro, Alfredo Gobbi, Argentino Galván, Juan Carlos Cobián, Pedro Maffia, Alberto Castillo (when his orchestra was led by Enrique Alessio).

«He was in the recording session of the two seminal numbers cut by Elvino Vardaro: “Pico de oro” and “El cuatrero”. He also played with Pedro Laurenz, Joaquín Do Reyes, Héctor Varela. He said that the Gobbi’s orchestra was the one which gave him the best memories because he was so musically pleased in it that in no other orchestra he felt that way again».

In the interview I made to the singer Armando Laborde, Zagnoli’s name sprang up and also an event that made him laugh:

«The first pianist that Varela had was Atilio Stampone. He had come with Hugo Baralis but they left soon. That wasn’t a style they would fit, it was extremely popular, let us say. Then Zagnoli appeared, he was quite a character. We were flying to Comodoro Rivadavia on a DC-3 plane. Half an hour later Varela had become friends with the pilot because he knew the latter owned racing horses and he was crazy about horses. Thereafter one of the boys called me to have a look at the cockpit. I went and I saw Varela in the co-pilot’s seat handling that wheel cut in the middle. He moved it forward and the aircraft seemed to dive down, he pulled it backward and the plane went up.

«As Zagnoli did not like traveling by plane I called him. My God! He began to yell. He said they were irresponsible, that they were all nuts. As no one paid attention to him he came back to his seat and he strongly held himself to the side of the seat. But he did it so strongly —he was quite nervous— that he bent his wedding ring. Meanwhile, Varela was saying: «How nice! When I come back I’ll buy one». What El Potrillo didn’t know was that the device was turned on automatic pilot».

In El libro del tango, Horacio Ferrer says: «Influenced by the admiration for Carlos Di Sarli and Francisco De Caro, he defined his unmistakable style through a heavy work alongside many consecrated bandleaders that contributed to establish his personality in show business».

Before returning to Uruguay to settle definitively, he recorded piano duets with José Tinelli for the Victor label. Thereafter his most important career was carried out in his country where he put together a successful trio. Firstly, along with Oldimar Cáceres on bandoneon and Eduardo Trinchitella on bass. And in different stages with Néstor Casco, Santiago Moreira, Pedro Terrón, Vicente Martínez and W. Ventrella (all bass players) and with Luis Di Mateo, Raúl Jaurena and Hugo Díaz (bandoneonists). It was a school of good tango, with the original idea of using double bass instead of violin which resulted in a more stressed rhythmical structure.

In Durazno, his hometown, someone was in charge of the research of his discography: piano solos, trios and orchestra, between 1957 and 1976. He recorded for the labels Sondor, Antar, Philips, Edward, Tonal, Macondo, RCA and Orfeo. Several vocalists passed through his aggregation: Carlos Duval, Carlos Solari, Julio Pomar, Walter Casella, Olga Delgrossi, Ruben Val, Elsa Durán and Aníbal Oberlín.

He composed a large number of pieces: “Cosas de antaño”, with lyrics by Juan Martínez, “Ya sé que volverás”, with Dante Ortiz, “La estacada”, “Che timbero”, with Héctor Bello Smith, also committed to disc by D’Arienzo with Laborde on vocals.

Soon after his 83th birthday, the SODRE (Offical Service of Broadcasting and Shows) paid homage to him reuniting his Uruguayan colleagues and a large number of Argentine tango men.

El Potrillo Zagnoli, is, no doubt, in the hall of fame with the most important musicians of Uruguay.