Abel Palermo

e was born in the neighborhood of Almagro. At age twenty he made his professional debut as bandoneon player in the orchestra led by Antonio Arcieri.

In 1937 he appeared leading his own aggregation. His pianist was the young José Basso —just 18 years old— and the vocalists were Juan Carlos Miranda and Alberto Ayerza.

His debut on radio was in 1941, on Radio Splendid. On that occasion the vocalist was Alberto Amor who later, together with Carlos Acuña, would reach a wide acclaim in the Rodolfo Biagi orchestra.

In 1945 he conducted the Staff Orchestra of Radio Belgrano which would successfully back up the consecrated female singer Azucena Maizani and, the already soloist, Héctor Mauré.

Among the outstanding musicians of his aggregation we can mention Ángel Genta, Andrés Natale and Vicente Todaro who, with the leader, lined up the bandoneon section. Another important member was the young vocalist Fontán Luna, who later would join the orchestra headed by Astor Piazzolla.

Besides the appearances on radio, he appeared at the cabaret Derby. In 1949 the singer from Rosario Raúl Ledesma made his debut in his orchestra and, one year later, the vocalists Roberto Campos and Raúl Palacios were included for his appearances on Radio Argentina and Radio Mitre.

His debut on television was in 1951 in the studios of Channel 7 and appeared in almost all the musical shows.

In 1952 he appeared in the season Conciertos semanales de tangos (Weekly Tango Concerts) at the then named Teatro Enrique Santos Discépolo —now Teatro Presidente Alvear— alongside the greatest orchestras of that time: Juan D'Arienzo, Aníbal Troilo, Francisco Canaro, Horacio Salgán, Francini-Pontier and Francisco Rotundo.

The following year he succeeded in recording for the Pathé label with the tangos “Desvelo” and “En una página en blanco”. The latter was his composition which had lyrics written by José Ramírez. Both numbers were sung by Alberto Amor and on the other side of the record were the instrumentals “Criolla linda” and “Lágrimas”.

But difficult times were coming for Grillo. After the coup d’état that overthrew the government of president Juan Perón on September 16, 1955 a pitiless political persecution took place which drove him to jail together with other people that were sympathizers with the régime, like Hugo Del Carril.

In 1958 he put together again an orchestra to appear in the studios of Radio Belgrano with the vocalists Osvaldo Jordán and Roberto Campos.

As nearly all tango expressions he was almost jobless in the 60s, with scarce gigs because of the invasion of rock and foreign music and, as from 1973, when the peronism won at the elections he was chosen town councillor for the Federal Capital, obviously, for the Frente Justicialista de Liberación.

He returned to music in 1976 and appeared in several TV shows. Two years later he appeared at the mythical Cabaret Marabú, on 375 Maipú Street, with his orchestra and the vocalist Alfredo Del Río.

By that time he released a single disc with the tango “Tuya”, sung by Zulema Robles —wife of our dear friend Aníbal Fernández—, and on the other side the instrumental “La cachila” was included.

In his later years Grillo devoted himself to his work in the Musicians Union (Sindicato de Músicos). His oeuvre as composer was not too large but we can mention among his most known pieces: “Esperándote”, with words by Alfredo Bigeschi and which he recorded with Zulema Robles on vocals; the above “En una página en blanco”; “Cada cual con sus ideas”, with lyrics by Julio Camilloni that he committed to record with Roberto Campos and “Romance popular”, with lyrics by Francisco García Jiménez which he recorded with the vocalist Juan Carlos Miranda.

He was not a musician who belonged to the front line of tango but he was a defender of our things and, above all, a friend and a buddy I’ll never forget. He was one of those artists that, at hard times, fought for their ideals and for the inalienable values of our fatherland.