Jorge Casal

Real name: Pappalardo, Salvador Carmelo
(14 January 1924 - 25 June 1996)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

genuine representative of the Gardelian school, a baritone with tenor features, he had a strong voice but at the same time it was sweet and crystalline. As we, the tango lovers, say that the color of his voice was rich in nuances and, his Gardelian phrasing at times reminds us of Raúl Berón for its sweetness and of Alberto Marino for its strength.

He was singer in Florindo Sassone´s orchestra from 1946 to 1950, a year when he entered Aníbal Troilo´s unit to remain until 1955, when he made his début as soloist singer.

The early recordings in such character were made with the guitar outfit led by Roberto Grela and which was formed by Héctor Ayala, Domingo Laine and Ernesto Báez on guitarrón (bass guitar). Curiously, on his first record (“Dicen que dicen” and “A mis manos”) Roberto Grela did not play.

Casal himself tells us about his vocation and about his beginnings.

«Didn´t you know I disliked Gardel? I was young, I was eleven years old and I had hardly heard of him. At home there was no money to buy a radio and my worries were others: the quickly passing of work hours —we had to work at that age— and going to play soccer in the street with other children.

«Of his death I came to know by the neighbors' comments and that made me angry. My afterthought was: why so much scandal with Gardel, if other people died as well in the accident?

«Several months passed and I still have the image present. I was playing a game of marbles on the side of the street, when all of a sudden a radio increased its volume. I heard a voice, and the shock it caused me was so big that I stopped my game and approached the house window to hear it better. When the record was over the announcer said: «You have just listened to Carlos Gardel on the jotaLos ojos de mi moza”». I remembered I whispered: ah, now I see!»

There the young boy Jorge Casal understood Gardel's importance. And he goes on saying, in this interview I made at his place, several years ago:

«The singing vocation was inside me, I had good taste to choose and days later, I went to the neighborhood cinema to see the movie El día que me quieras. I was driven crazy for ever.

«My old folks were Italian and so my elder sister. My arrival at the profession brought me some disappointments. After singing at some neighborhood festivals I appeared at a contest organized by Radio Splendid. There was a previous round to choose who were going to sing.

«I chose the tango by Rafael Rossi and José Rial, “Corazoncito (Ñafa)”. I had sung the first and second part when, suddenly, a bell in the room rang, then a guy came and told me that it was all right, that I had to leave them my name and address, that they would call me later. Of course nothing of the like happened and it hurt me».

At this time of the interview, the singer recalls how he was admitted to Florindo Sassone's orchestra.

«A friend of mine who had heard me at a nearby festival, accompanied by the guitarist Aníbal Arias, told me that Florindo Sassone's orchestra needed a singer to perform within a few days on Radio Splendid. The same radio station of my failure. He introduced me to a musician of the orchestra and after hearing me he said he would introduce me to the director. I went to his place on a Monday, the audition was with the number “Canción de cuna”. Sassone didn't like me so I began to persuade myself I was not born to be a singer.

«But on the following day, a surprise. The musician who had introduced me came home to tell me I was the new singer of the orchestra. What had happened? While Sassone was appraising my merits, his wife María —who had a musical ear because she had studied singing— heard me and later told her husband not to put me aside, because I sang very well. Soon afterwards one of the radio station managers told me «How lucky Sassone with you! D'you know he was about to choose the one who won the contest on the radio? «That boy was Domingo Alé, later to be known as Alberto Podestá. I made my debut on November 18, 1946».

Subsequently I asked him how his artistic name came to existence.

«First I had thought Turi Lardó would be a suitable artistic name for me. Turi in the dialect of my parents' people means Saviour, and Lardó is the last portion of my surname. But I liked the surname of a friend who ran a bike shop, Carlos Casal, but the first name didn't come to my mind, until a girl suggested Jorge and I liked it».

«Except for the first two recordings “Canción de cuna” and “Volver”, the whole repertoire was selected by me, on that I made no concessions. Sassone was in charge of the musical part, about the rest ... we'd better not even speak of. He was not a good person. He never admitted he had been wrong by rejecting me and let alone that his orchestra's success was owed to my presence. That was always the gossiping in the environment and I knew it was so.

«I instead was quite different. Only after three days of our début Pedro Laurenz's agent, named Soto, came to take me to the maestro's orchestra. I declined the offer because I was obliged to the opportunity Sassone had given me, even though I knew Laurenz was going to pay me more. There were also messengers from other important orchestras, Miguel Caló, Carlos Di Sarli and Aníbal Troilo. I went to Pichuco's apartment to see him personally, I told him about it and he answered me: «Congratulations, boy, it's not easy to find someone who does what you did!»

Already split of Sassone he entered Aníbal Troilo's orchestra cutting on disc 20 memorable recordings. Among them I prefer the tangos “La mentirosa”, “Carmín”, “La cantina” and the waltz “Vuelve la serenata”.

Jorge Casal was a singer admired by his peers, a simple boy, but with a great sensitivity for the performance of his singing vocation, an example of the immigrant's son who stood out in a career so difficult which, as in this case, did not reach the recognition he would have deserved.