Roberto Améndola

n 1951, Radio El Mundo was one of the attraction centers for tango orchestras and the headquarters for musicians and singers that lived and enjoyed the best years of tango.

Walking along near them, watching them play, regarding them in a learning attitude and staying by their side, Humberto Pinheiro, then a seventeen-year-old young man, was so often found and his destiny would be living always among music and musicians. Seventy years later and, after having toured worldwide with his instrument like very few, his universe is still the same: living and working surrounded by the tango milieu people that admire and hold him in high esteem.

In the environment of that radio station he came to know those who started him in the art of double bass playing: Hamlet Greco and Fernando Cabarcos, Horacio’s father. Furthermore his father himself was a double bass player. That was the beginning of his career that led him to play along with many of the greats, including Aníbal Troilo and Roberto Goyeneche, and to make tours of over 40 countries throughout his long career. He appeared in countries such as Mexico, where he stayed for six years, and even in the far distant Egypt.

He was born in Paysandú (Uruguay), on July 29, 1934. With his family he arrived in Argentina in 1938. His father was violinist and string bass player and played with the orchestras led by Ricardo Pedevilla, Félix Guillán and Anselmo Aieta.

The Tango Trío
In his beginnings, Humberto joined the orchestras fronted by Ernesto Rossi, Enrique Alessio and Lucio Demare. With the latter he had a four-year tenure. In 1966, at times when tango was facing many difficulties, he put together a line-up that was much sought after: the Tango Trío, whose story is hard to detach from him, its alma mater. This group was born as a back-up outfit for singers and dancers.

In its long career the Tango Trío accompanied, among others, Hugo Del Carril on his extensive tours of Venezuela and Colombia in 1971. That year they also appeared at the Manhattan Center of New York along with Raúl Lavié; the following year in Chile and, in 1973 they made a tour of Mexico and appeared again in Manhattan at the Carnegie Hall with Juan Carlos Thorry and Simonette.

Thereafter they played at the Washington University, later they made a tour of Brazil and, in 1978 they were hired to play for six months in Mexico but they stayed for six years hired by Televisa. Soon thereafter they returned to Buenos Aires to appear at El Viejo Almacén.

They continued with tours of Peru, Colombia and Venezuela and in 1985 they appeared in a show at the Sheraton Hotel of Egypt where they came back to perform in 1988. In sum, let us say that they had gigs in faraway places like Peru, Italy, the Caribbean area and, with Rubén Juárez, they appeared in Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Miami, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and even Austria, Germany and Switzerland. In Toulouse they accompanied the dancers Gloria y Eduardo.

Between 2004 and 2006, they played at El Viejo Almacén, Caño 14 and Michelangelo. Besides the above, the Tango Trío accompanied Edmundo Rivero, Hugo Marcel, Nito Mores, Néstor Fabián, Floreal Ruiz, Ruth Durante, María Graña, Gabriel Reynal, among many others; all this in a period that encompasses over four decades of performance. Furthermore, they appeared accompanying Alba Solís in the movie Carne, a film starring Isabel Sarli,.

The fist line-up of the trio included Walter Ríos (bandoneon) and Rubén Castro (guitar). On bandoneon later played Dino Saluzzi, Néstor Marconi, Julio Esbrez and Quique Greco. And also on some occasions Julio Pane and Lisandro Adrover occupied the bandoneon seat.

In an article published in a journal in February 1998, Héctor Negro says: «Mentioning the Tango Trío is to refer to Humberto Pinheiro, its creator, protagonist and alma mater», and below he added: «it was born to be an accompanying group for singers as, among others, Alejandro Romay suggested it back in 1966. This label put them away from the protagonism and the promotion given to the classic tango orchestras. It is hard to find the names of the singers they did not back up, since from the legendary Hugo Del Carril to Floreal Ruiz it is difficult to find a vocalist that had not sung with them. Pinheiro is a bassist with a solid professional training». And Negro ends referring to Pinheiro: «at age 17 he made his debut at the Café Nacional and since then his career was uninterrupted, joining famous orchestras, accompanying singers, teaming up as duo with Lucio Demare, and even playing in the Pichuco’s orchestra substituting for Kicho Díaz

The trio made tens of recordings with the above artists and, in 1968 recorded its only own disc. On that occasion the other members were Rubén Castro and Walter Ríos.

A surprising thing crowns the career of this man that always lived embracing his upright bass and surrounded by the best bandoneonists: at age 75 he decided to sit down and devote to bandoneon playing. To achieve that he began to study and today that is a reality we were able to witness on the stage of Los 36 Billares on Avenida de Mayo.

At present, he is faithful to his everlasting love: music. And while he is getting ready to plan new travels, he keeps on working in our milieu staging new shows devoted to our tango.