Ikuo Abo

Real name: Abo, Isao
(20 April 1937 - 1 September 2021)
Place of birth:
Aomori (Hirosaki) Japan
Luis Alposta

his friendly Japanese singer with a powerful voice and a tenor-like baritone range never learned the Spanish language and, like his peer Ranko Fujisawa, made a successful use of strict phonetic resources instead.

He was born in Hirosaki, city of Aomori, in a northern area of Japan. He began his career as tango singer with his teachers Ricardo Francia and Fernando Tell. The latter ones did much to spread our popular music when they were in Japan. His encounter with these two Argentine musicians was very important for his development as an artist.
In 1959 and 1960 he studied at the Ritsumeikan University and later he made his debut in October 1961 in the radio program Plaza de Canción of NHK, which is the main radio station of Japan.

In February 1964 he was member of the group that toured Argentina with Ranko Fujisawa and maestro Shinpei Hayakawa, conductor of the Orquesta Típica Tokyo. During that tour not only Ikuo appeared at the popular program Casino Philips aired by TV channel 13, but also he made his first recording for RCA of Argentina in April that same year. He recorded, among other numbers, “La última copa”, “Ríe payaso” and “Mi dolor”. He even was then awarded by the Society of Authors and Composers [Sociedad de Autores y Compositores](SADAIC).

Thereafter he toured other South American countries: Peru, Ecuador and Colombia and cut recordings in each one of them for the local record companies: RCA of Peru; Orion of Ecuador and Sonolux of Colombia. In the late November of that year he returned to his country.

He was vocalist of the Tango Orchestra led by Masaichi Sakamoto and in the Kyotani Kouji Quintet.

In October 1965 he was invited by the TV Channel 13 of Argentina to appear in the TV show Sábados Circulares in which he was showcased for a long period to great acclaim. By that time he cut “Tomo y obligo”, “En esta tarde gris” and “Lo han visto con otra”, among others. Furthermore he appeared in the movie Viaje de una noche de verano in which he sang alongside Ranko Fujisawa, Néstor Fabián and Enrique Dumas.

Among the international tours he later made, are well remembered the ones of: Spain (1967), Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela (1968). He recorded for the labels: Belter of Spain; Caribe of Puerto Rico; Alegre and others of the United States; and Mavilu of Venezuela. He came back to his land in May. Also in October 1968 he recorded a long-playing disc for Polydor which was entitled Tango del alma.

In 1975 he made new tours of Argentina, Brazil and Portugal and delved into new genres: tango, folk music, chôros and fados. He recorded around 120 discs.

In January 1987 he recorded the compact disc Tango del amor (Meldac) accompanied by the orchestra led by José Colángelo. That recording included the tango “A lo Megata” with my own lyrics and music by Edmundo Rivero. This tango had been premiered by Ikuo in Japón on June 23, 1983 at the Asahi-Seimei Theater of Tokio backed up by Koyi Kyotani and his Tango Trio. Another disc of that same year is Che bandoneón (Polydor). These two recorded releases were widely accepted and sold very well.

In 1997 because of his sixtieth birthday he resumed his preferred activity: singing before an audience. He made a series of concerts and, the following year, in February he recorded the compact disc Mañana zarpa un barco to wide acclaim.

2001 was a challenging year for him. He made for the Japanese television his own program about the historical Japanese theater with his theme song he called Wind. In October that year he was seized by a brain thrombosis from which he has been, gradually, recovering.

From 2004 he has devoted to teaching. He gives singing lessons and conducts a cultural course, sponsored by the Yomiuri journal and the Nihon television channel.