Oscar Zucchi

his porteño was initially guitarist. His friend, Eduardo Arolas, persuaded him to pick up bandoneon. He had two brothers that were musicians, Pascual who was pianist and Nicolás, guitarist. He lived for a long time on Tacuarí 1870 and his whereabouts were the neighborhood of Barracas and Parque Lezama.

Even though he was a “fueye” man, the first bucks he got were playing guitar at the Café de las Mercedes in La Boca when teamed up with the bandoneon player Antonio Cacace, widely popular by that time. This took place until he came to know Arolas in 1909 one evening that he crossed the city to El Abasto area.

They played in numerous backyard balls adding a violinist that played by ear and was known as “El Quijudo”. Now as bandoneon instrumentalist, Arolas himself had passed on to him the music of the first number, a waltz, “Las sirenas” and one by Alfredo Bevilacqua, “Recuerdos de la pampa”.

His beginning with the new instrument was —towards 1910— along with the violinist Eduardo Monelos and the pianist Ángel Pastore at the Café El Griego, run by Nicolás Bardaka, though in fact its name was Café Royal. The following year, at the Bar Argentino in La Boca, he played in quartet along with Tito Roccatagliata (violin), Carlos Hernani Macchi (flute) and Agustín Bardi (piano). In 1912 he appeared at the Café La Buseca of Avellaneda.

In 1914 he was on Corrientes Street at the Café Iglesias for only two months. His sidemen were José Valotta (violin), José Fuster (flute) and Francisco Pracánico (piano). But soon thereafter he appeared at the Café Domínguez. This stage maybe was the most important in his career. His tenure at that venue was up to 1919. It was the «brave quartet of Graciano De Leone» (according to the words by Enrique Cadícamo introducing the tango “Café Domínguez”). It was located on 1500 Corrientes Street facing the then Teatro Nuevo (today on that piece of land the Teatro General San Martín was built).

The boys had other gigs and, according the pianist Nicolás Vaccaro, when the time arrived they told don Pedro Domínguez —owner of the above café— that they had to leave for two or three months and the Spaniard replied: «Leave but come back.». The first quartet included De Leone, Alcides Palavecino, José Rafael Valotta (violins) and Nicolás Vaccaro (piano).

In 1915, he formed a trio with Juan Carlos Cobián and the violinist Juan Pedro Castillo to appear at the Tigre Hotel, among other nice venues. In 1916, they played at the Armenonville to replace Roberto Firpo who had traveled to Montevideo. In 1917 he put together another trio with Emilio Marchiano and Peregrino Paulos. They made a tour of the province of Córdoba and on their comeback they appeared at the El Tabarín on Suipacha Street. It is quite unfortunate that a renowned quartet like that had not succeeded in recording.

In 1918, he traveled to Mar del Plata, this time with Francisco De Caro on piano and José Valotta and Fernando Franco (Zurdo) on violins. In 1924, he joined the giant orchestra led by Julio De Caro for the balls at the Salón L’Aiglon. In the thirties he played at a large number of weekend balls. For them he joined the outfit of a very young Alfredo De Angelis. They appeared on Radio Ultra and he continued his career until the end of a not very long life.

32 numbers of his own have been found. Many of them were committed to disc: “Así canto yo”, recorded by Carlos Gardel in Barcelona in December 1927 and by Francisco Canaro with Ernesto Famá in 1930; “Cinta azul”, with words by Eduardo Escaris Méndez, recorded by Juan Guido and Rosita Quiroga in 1928, and also by Charlo with Canaro.

“De mal agüero”, an instrumental dedicated to Agustín Bardi. Recorded by Firpo in 1918 and by Julio De Caro for Brunswick (1929/32); “El pillete”, an instrumental classic recorded by Firpo in 1917, De Caro in 1927 and later for Brunswick, El Cuarteto del Novecientos (Feliciano Brunelli, Elvino Vardaro, Aníbal Troilo and the flutist Enrique Tour) in 1936; Osmar Maderna in 1949 and Juan D'Arienzo in 1973.

“El rey de la serpentina” was premiered by De Leone with his bandoneon in 1913. “Gaulois” named after the café on Avenida de Mayo 899, later called Bar Central; recorded by Firpo in 1922. “Juramentos” recorded by the orchestra led by Minotto Di Cicco in 1930.

La cornetita”, Osvaldo Fresedo recorded it as an instrumental in 1927; “La dama negra”, recorded by Canaro in 1924; “La tristona”, also by Canaro, in 1927; “Repeluz”, by Firpo (1917) and by De Caro for Brunswick.

Tierra negra”, another outstanding number. Recorded by Firpo in 1917; Julio De Caro in 1940; Carlos Di Sarli in 1943 and 1952; D'Arienzo in 1942; Canaro with Alberto Arenas on vocals in 1951 and the Nuevo Cuarteto de Firpo in 1947.

Un lamento”, with lyrics by Pedro Numa Córdoba. Possibly his most successful tango that was recorded by: Firpo, the Servidio brothers, Carlos Di Sarli (twice), Cuarteto Firpo, Los Virtuosos (Vardaro, the De Caro brothers, Carlos Marcucci and Ciriaco Ortiz). And it was sung by Ignacio Corsini, Agustín Magaldi, Ángel Vargas, Jorge Maciel with Osvaldo Pugliese, among others.

“Viejo tintero”, with words by Estrella Mamán. Recorded by D’Arienzo with Juan Carlos Lamas.

Besides those numbers he also composed some milongas, waltzes, rancheras and a pasodoble “Profecía gitana” that Canaro recorded with Carlos Galán.