Oscar Zucchi

e was born in the neighborhood of Balvanera. Like the Canaro brothers, the Greco and the Pizarro brothers, the Politos were a tango family because its four brothers devoted themselves to music. The eldest was Pedro and was followed by Antonio who was four years his junior.

Even though he was well regarded as a player in the bandoneon section from the mid- 1910 to the thirties, his technique was not the best but he possessed an inborn musicality and he played the variations melodiously. He stands out for having played as bandoneonist in the first orchestra fronted by Francisco Canaro. He played in the recordings made for the Atlanta label which were sixty-two numbers. Two of them were his compositions: “Estoy sobrando” and “La rodada”.

Juan Bautista Deambroggio aka Bachicha, before traveling to Europe, was the one who taught him the elementary lessons to play the instrument. He started to play at the balls held at backyards and in family meetings and later he was member of a trio with Samuel Castriota (piano), later replaced by José Martínez and, on violin, the slightly out of tune player Francisco Canaro who would later become one of the most outstanding names in our popular music. They appeared at the Teatro Olimpo on Pueyrredón 1461 (then Centroamérica). They were known as El Trío Polito en el Olimpo not because he was its leader but simple because he had made the connections that made the gig possible.

For the first recordings a second violin, Rafael Rinaldi, was added and the great musician Ruperto Leopoldo Thompson, on double bass, who until then had appeared as an outstanding guitar strummer.

The only record industry was the Nacional-Odeon but the only one authorized to record there was Roberto Firpo. Because of that his recordings were on Atlanta that sent the recorded material to Germany to get the matrices. But with the outbreak of World War I the inter-oceanic communication underwent serious problems. So they turned to recording in Porto Alegre. Due to budget reasons Canaro, Polito and Thompson had to travel. By listening to the recordings it seems that a flute replaced the piano. Probably a local musician had been the replacement.

On their comeback Polito formed a trio with Pascual Cardarópoli (piano) and Raimundo Petillo (violin) and for a tour of the town of Bragado and its surroundings the brothers Pedro, Antonio (guitar) and Salvador (violin) teamed up. Money was always needed.

In 1916 in Rosario the carnival balls at the Teatro Politeama had the teaming up of the Firpo and Canaro orchestras. Polito was in the bandoneon section of this large aggregation. And in the two following carnivals Pedro was also present in a big orchestra that appeared at the Teatro Colón.

Pedro Polito also led the Osvaldo Fresedo orchestra when it used to appear at the Casino Pigalle on 825 Corrientes Street. Among the members of this aggregation were Julio De Caro, José María Rizzuti and Hugo Ricardo Baralis. The latter did not like having another leader but they had to agree. It happened when Fresedo went to the United States for recording with the so called Orquesta Select that in fact it was only a trio, a duo, a quintet and, maybe some time, a sextet.

In 1922 Manuel Pizarro was successful in Europe when his friend Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear was elected president of Argentina. On his comeback from Paris, the elected head of state brought the musician to play during the voyage. Pizarro wanted to return soon to France but his friend Francisco Lomuto persuaded him to lead an orchestra that, customarily, played on the cruises of the luxurious ship Cap Polonio. Those were three travels and there was Pedro Polito. In 1923 Pizarro went to France and Lomuto took over the leadership of the orchestra.

In 1925 Lomuto formed two orchestras: one was a jazz band and the other was a tango orchestra. Polito played bandoneon in the latter aggregation. One year later his old friend Canaro summoned him to travel to France. Their debut was at the cabaret Florida in Paris. When Canaro returned he joined the orchestra of the successful Irusta-Fugazot-Demare. In his section were Héctor Artola and Lucas Demare. The latter knew very little about the instrument but he was good looking. Later he switched to the Bianco-Bachicha orchestra.

He came back to Buenos Aires in 1931. In the 40s he acknowledged the evolution of tango. He realized he was surpassed as musician and he began to appear less. His brother Antonio put together an orchestra: in the traditional style of that time with ten players and a vocalist. The latter was Teófilo Ibáñez. Pedro was no longer lead bandoneonist. That position was filled by Héctor Milano and he remained as second in the section. They used to appear at the Café La Colmena on Avenida Forest.

His brother Juan in an interview said the following about his elder brother: «At a time when most of the bandoneon players made use of only three fingers to play he used to play with both hands. He played by ear but he was capable of playing fast variations and possessed a strong sound». Possibly his last performance was a t the Casino of Mar del Plata in 1953.

Retired, he settled in the locality of Lomas de Zamora, celebrated his birthday and after lunch he went out to walk with his brother Juan, who then was pianist of Juan D’Arienzo. To his surprise, Pedro told him that he feels as if he were a rusty old engine (he was only 64) and added: «I think I was a good son and a good brother», later denying the reason for that confidence. The following day he went to SADAIC to collect some money for his copyrights. On his way back home, when he was stepping on the stairs of the crowded Constitución railway station, he fell on the ground and died. It was 8:30 pm. At that time his brother Juan was playing on the radio.

As composer he was not prolific. I was able to count 23 numbers. But he made two hits. One is “Caído del cielo”, written in collaboration with Antonio. It was awarded second prize at a contest in 1927. It was recorded by Mario Pardo (guitar solo), Canaro, Firpo, Fresedo, Juan Maglio, Lomuto, Eduardo Bianco, Alfredo Attadía, Alfredo De Angelis and the only rendering with the lyrics written by his brother Antonio was cut by Ignacio Corsini.

The other one was “Color de rosa”, also with his brother Antonio. In this case, there is a great number of renditions: Firpo, Canaro, De Caro, Ciriaco Ortiz Trio, Lucio Demare, Aníbal Troilo on two occasions, Francisco Fiorentino, Alfredo Attadía, Eduardo Del Piano, and Leopoldo Federico as a bandoneon solo.

It is worthwhile to highlight “Corto de genio” which was recorded by Irusta-Fugazot-Demare. It is the only composition of his that was committed to record by Carlos Gardel.

Excerpted from his book El tango, el bandoneón y sus intérpretes, Volume II, Corregidor Editions.