Alberto Heredia

n the house where he was born in Villa Devoto there was music in the air which could be felt as a breath. And it is quite likely that when he was still in his mother’s womb he might have enjoyed the sweet harmonious lullaby that came from a guitar and a voice when his father —a native of Santiago del Estero— used to sing songs and pluck those strings. At the age when other children were beginning to hold a pencil to write the first strokes he, who was only four, was already holding the fingerboard of a guitar and with his thin fingers was shaping the simple chords of a song with that passion for music that would accompany him for the rest of his life.

Wearing short trousers, he started with his brothers and cousins putting together groups, teaming up with his sister Amanda as a duo under the name Los Catamarqueñitos to honor their mother born in the province of Catamarca.

His first teacher, when he was ten, was a colleague of his father, Pedro Ramírez Sánchez, who guided him in his first steps and became his buddy and advisor time later. With him he was acquainted with other guitar schools. That universe contributed to his development and allowed him to show a competence and confidence rather infrequent for a young boy. There he was nurtured with the technical and musical knowledge but his talent and self-taught spirit did the rest.

He became a gifted classical music player but soon he found his way in popular music. He began playing folk music by accompanying prestigious singers and groups of the golden period of that genre: Los Arrieros Cuyanos, Virginia Vera, the Vera-Molina duo, Alberto Castelar, Rogelio Araya, Hilda Vivar, Waldo Belloso, Dúo Moreno-Sayago, Ramona Galarza, Julia Vidal, Hermanas Berón, Hermanos Barroso, Argentino Luna, among others. But his passion was tango and he played for many years at the now disappeared venue La Querencia, on Avenida de Mayo, where he backed a large number of singers that appeared in its shows.

He was fairly known when he made his debut in tango by accompanying a singer of the neighborhood of Mataderos: Ángel Reco, whom he remembers with affection. Reco died in 1992 and was one of those classic neighborhood singers that appeared on the radio in the forties, according to the note written by Sara Ribot in September 1992 for the Tango y Lunfardo magazine.

In 1953 he was member of the guitar group that accompanied Héctor Mauré for four years. He also played in a large number of outfits: the A Puro Tango quartet led by Miguel Nijensohn, a trio with Osvaldo Tarantino and Osvaldo Rizzo, several quartets fronted by Enrique Alessio, Jorge Dragone, Armando Pontier, Luis Stazo, Eduardo Ferri, Osvaldo Piro, Celso Amato, Francisco Grillo, Héctor Stamponi, José Libertella and, from 1969 to 1975, the one led by Aníbal Troilo. With the latter he recorded everlasting numbers.

He was guitarist of the greatest singers: Libertad Lamarque, Raúl Berón, Oscar Alonso, Carlos Acuña, Tania, Ángel Cárdenas, Roberto Rufino, Floreal Ruiz, Julio Sosa, Roberto Goyeneche, Susana Rinaldi, Edmundo Rivero, Enzo Valentino, Néstor Fabián, Alberto Morán, Jorge Casal, Argentino Ledesma, the Dante-Larroca duo, and many more.

He was member of the Orquesta de Tango de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, from its inception in 1980 -under the direction of Carlos García and Raúl Garello. With this orchestra he toured Argentina and several countries of Latin America and harvested deserved acclaim.

Now he is in the cast of El Café de los Maestros along with the most noted musicians and singers. He appeared in the movie with the same name shot in 2006 and he appeared, with some of its members in Berlin, Rome, Athens, Paris, London and Rio de Janeiro.

He devotes a great part of his time to teaching in order to pass on his knowledge and his experience to the young generations and to help them to further their technique.

He was founder of the Escuela de Música Popular de la Municipalidad de Avellaneda where he still works as professor of History of Tango and Tango Guitar.

He made numerous trips to the United States, Brazil, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Japan (twelve times) with different artists, especially, with the duo he has with the bandoneonist Osvaldo Montes. We have to highlight the historical travel to Washington with the Aníbal Troilo’s quartet in March 1972 for the celebrations of May 25.
With Susana Rinaldi he appeared in Paris at the Olympia and at the Theatre de la Ville, also at the Teatro La Comedia of Madrid. With the Sexteto Mayor: in Venice, Berlin and Washington.

His first recording as soloist, La Guitarra Romántica del Tango, was in 1985 for RCA, re-issued in compact disc in 2008. It was followed by Una guitarra para Gardel and with his guitar quartet: two CD’s, Nuestras guitarras with Carlos Martínez, Seis cuerdas y una voz with Oscar Ferrari and “Querido Chamamé” with the bandoneon player Antonio Príncipe.

A special paragraph deserves his relationship with Osvaldo Montes (El Marinero) (The Sailor), his buddy in the Orquesta del Tango de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires since its foundation. Besides being fellow players in the orchestra, they are very close friends and they are a musical duo that delight us with a songbook of tangos of all times. Their interpretive excellence and the continuous improvisations are a trademark of these two prestigious maestros that we can verify by listening to their recordings.

He is honorable academician of the Academia Nacional del Tango and regular member of the Academia de Música. He was awarded as Gloria del Tango by the Academia Porteña del Lunfardo. In 1986 he was awarded with the Gardel de Oro; in 2004 he was distinguished by the Senate of the Nation «for the valuable contribution to our culture» and later the Latin Grammy 2008 as musician-sideman in the tango album Buenos Aires, Día y Noche.

He has devoted professionally to music for almost seventy years and still he goes on playing his instrument. He has collected over thirty guitars and with each one of them he has lived a story.

He keeps the same unyielding humility of his beginnings. He has not changed in spite of praises, awards or honors he received throughout his long career. He has not become a conceited guy because of success and, like on the first day, he continues making and imagining new things. He is, undoubtedly, an example of working individual eager to go on learning and a great educator that enjoys playing guitar passionately. He conveys the love that flows from his soul through the guitar strings when played by his agile fingers.