Real name: Mouso, José Teodoro
Lyricist and painter
(1 October 1905 - 29 May 2000)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Ricardo García Blaya

e was quite a caracter. This manifold porteño, a stubborn bohemian that wrote tango lyrics and did not like being called poet, he preferred to be regarded just as a plain lyricist.

He was born in the neighborhood of Parque de los Patricios, on Catamarca Street, right opposite the country house of Francisco Moreno, that pioneer of our Patagonian south. Now the teaching institute Bernasconi is on that estate. Later he moved to Nueva Pompeya, to a house on De la Arena Street which after 1917 was named Almafuerte Avenue in memory of the poet who had died on February 28 that year.

Nobody knew him by his true name and he was always Isusi for everybody. The reason for that strange nickname is connected to soccer. In his teens he was fascinated by the goalkeeper Pedro Isusi of the Club Independiente, soccer champion in 1922 and 1926. The boys of his gang had the idea to name him with that surname and so it remained.

In his Cuadernos de Difusión del Tango, Salvador Arancio tells us that he soon quit school for a job as apprentice in a printing house in his neighborhood. He used to say that because of that he approached books. But in fact he became a great reader.

At age 18 he began to practice boxing and he as he had become a connoisseur of the milieu a friend journalist recommended him for a job at the disappeared República newspaper in the sports section. He even organized boxing combats.

On one occasion with his friends he went to a festival organized to raise funds for a guitarist. Among the figures that appeared there was an unknown boy that sang some numbers a cappella. His sobriquet was Armando Duval, but in fact he was Alberto De Luca, later the famous «Cantor de los Cien Barrios Porteños», Alberto Castillo.

They became close friends and he was his secretary and agent for some time.
He wrote his first tango “Pincelada” in 1943 and was the first one to be committed to record. I think it’s his best number. Its music was composed by Emilio Balcarce and was recorded by Alberto Castillo with the orchestra led by the composer in 1944. It is the only rendition I know.

Once the poet told us how his most popular number “Y así nació este tango” had been born. It was on a rainy cold day by the end of the year he had got off the streetcar and was walking back home in the wee small hours of the morning along the Riachuelo bank. A little bit tired, among crackers and fireworks, without cigarettes and with no money in his pockets, he found a roof and below it he began to write. Of course, it turned out a tango.

The first one in recording it was Domingo Federico with his vocalist Carlos Vidal in September 1944. As composer of the music appears the pianist of that orchestra: Isaac Melecio Garcés, but according to Isusi it belongs to Federico who probable had reasons to mention his sideman instead. Another interesting recording is the one by the Enrique Rodríguez’s orchestra with Armando Moreno on vocals in February 1945.

The composer had the same attitude with the second recording of a lyrics by Isusi: “Donde todos olvidan”, cut in September 1945 and also Garcés is mentioned as composer.

In the SADAIC record are filed over 50 of his pieces. Among those committed to disc are: the candombe “Candonga” with music by Alberto Castillo and Jorge Dragone, recorded by Castillo and also by the aggregation led by the Uruguayan Donato Racciatti; the tango “Pavadas” with music by Mario Demarco and lyrics in collaboration with Julio Camilloni, recorded by Osvaldo Pugliese in 1958 with Abel Córdoba, this vocalis; the candombe “Sí señor tamborilero” that Rubén Juárez recorded in 1977 accompanied by Raúl Garello who also wrote the charts.

Other numbers of his are: “Luna ladrona”, a milonga composed by Argentino Galván; the candombes “Señora Blanca” with music by Arturo Gallucci and “Voz de candombé”, with Mario Demarco, both in collaboration with Camilloni. With Osvaldo Manzi he wrote “Adiós a Pompeya” (1972) and with Jorge Dragone and Riobal (Alberto Castillo's pseudonym), “Dónde me quieren llevar”.

His activity as a show business agent was occasional, he was manager for the female singer Carmen Duval and also for the Carlos Marcucci’s orchestra.

He was one of the founders of «La Casa del Tango» in September 1967 together with Nélida Rouchetto, Dr. Luis Adolfo Sierra, Olga Cabrera, Oscar del Priore and other outstanding personalities.

Furthermore he was a researcher of Afro American matters and, especially, about slavery issues. This cultural background was evidenced, either in his liking for candombe or by the contents of his lyrics and by his other devotion, painting. His painting entitled Candombe is in the offices of the OAS (Organization of American States) in Buenos Aires.

He was a frequent visitor of the now disappeared barroom El Águila, a venue that was popular for artists and collectors on Lavalle Street, on the same block where SADAIC is located.

This brief portrayal tries to rescue from oblivion this inhabitant of the night scene in Buenos Aires that wrote beautiful pages of our popular music.