Abel Palermo

his important tango musician, born in the city of Buenos Aires, is, regretfully, an unknown figure now and whom we want to restore in Todo Tango.

He began his show business career at age seventeen by playing in the bandoneon section of the Anselmo Aieta’s aggregation and went on for a three-year tenure. Later he switched no less than to the Pedro Mafia orchestra to substitute for Gabriel Clausi —El Chula— who had split with it together with the violinists Antonio Rodio and Cayetano Puglisi.

From that moment on the orchestra led by Maffia was lined up with: Ángel Maffia, Héctor Presas, Carlos Demaría and the leader (bandoneons); Alberto Besprovan (Tito), Leo Lipesker and Unamuno —whose first name I don’t know— (violins); Nerón Ferrazzano (cello); Juan Trombino (piano) and the vocalists Mariano Balcarce and Félix Gutiérrez.

They appeared on LS8 Radio Stentor, recorded for RCA-Victor and in 1935 made an important tour of Chile. The following year and, with several changes in personnel, the orchestra began a season on LR3 Radio Belgrano. The new aggregation included: Francisco Requena, Héctor Presas, Carlos Demaría and Juan Mario Maffia (bandoneons); Tito Besprovan and Leo Lipesker (violins); Salvador Caló —Freddy—(piano), Santos Lipesker (clarinet); Antonio Cefalli (trombone); Eduardo Fracassi (double bass) and the vocalists Alberto Gómez and Martín Podestá.

In 1938 he quit the aggregation fronted by Maffia but he went on with a heavy schedule by playing as substitute sideman in a large number of orchestras; an activity he carried out up to the end of his career. To such an extent that in any conversation when someone named some music group he used to say: «I played in it». His friends adopted that phrase as his nickname.

A couple of years later he formed a quartet and he played with it until 1944 when he put together his brand-new orchestra which made its debut on LR4 Radio Splendid. Great singers were with him: in 1947 Carlos Mayel, in 1948 Mario Bustos and Roberto Cortez —Demaría’s brother— and, in 1949 Alfredo Castell that replaced Bustos.

His debut on record was in October 1950 for the Pampa label with a classic: “El entrerriano” and, with Roberto Cortez on vocals: the milonga “Presumido” —composed by Armando Baliotti with words by Julián Martín Castro—. The following year he cut a sole recording with Miguel Montero: “Esta noche me emborracho”. The vocalist was then in the Francisco Lomuto orchestra but the latter was dismembered due to the death of its leader and, because of that he had a short tenure in the one led by Demaría to later join the aggregation of Mario Demarco.

From 1950 to 1953 he recorded 16 tracks, ten instrumentals and six with vocals. The vocal ones were five with Roberto Cortez and the sixth was the above mentioned with El Negro Montero.

It is important to highlight that by that time —between 1950 and 1955—, besides the gigs with his aggregation, he was in charge of the Orquesta Típica Coca Cola. The popular soft drink sponsored the radio show La Ronda Musical de las Américas which was aired by Radio Belgrano on Sundays at noon. In that show appeared Carmen Duval, Nelly Omar, Azucena Maizani, Hugo Del Carril, Oscar Alonso, Alberto Gómez, among other great artists.

The singer Héctor Mauré —as soloist— summoned Demaría and his orchestra for the recording of a single disc in the Orfeo label studios in August 1956. They recorded the tango “Linda” on one side and “El tango no tiene contra” on the other. The latter was composed by Demaría in collaboration with Andrés Chinarro and Juan Mario Maffia.

On November 30 that same year he appeared with Mauré at the cabaret Maipú Pigall on 340 Maipú Street. The orchestra included Antonio Nevoso —Bebe—, Pascual Elía, Nino Adolorato and the leader (bandoneons); Bernardo Sevilla —Tito—, Roberto Fernández, Antonio Cuervo and Mauricio Mise (violins); Aldo Ballarini (pianist and arranger) and Alberto Sculco (string bass).

Furthermore, they appeared on Saturdays and Sundays on LR3 Radio Belgrano and at dancing parties, salons and clubs.

In January 1957 the partnership Mauré-Demaría resumed its recording work in the Odeon company. They cut several numbers: “Ríe payaso”, “Tuya”, “Aquel nocturno”, “Mi ayer” (by Armando Angeletti, Osvaldo Calcaño and Julián Centeya), “Por limosna no”, “Mientras viva”, “Reflexionemos” and “Decime qué pasó”. The following year they split up and each one followed his own road. Mauré was accompanied by the bandoneonist Pascual Elía and the guitarists Velásquez, Soulé, Salinas, Olivera and Laine.

Demaría, on the other hand, continued with his work at the cabaret Casanovas —on 360 Maipú Street— and also on Radio Splendid.

Through the ranks of his orchestra many important musicians passed, among them we can highlight Juan Carlos Howard, Osvaldo Requena, Simón Bajour, Emilio Marchiano, Héctor Gorla and Eduardo Del Piano.

His work as composer, besides the above mentioned “El tango no tiene contra” includes, among other numbers: “Cortada de Carabelas” —co-written with Héctor Mauré and Andrés Chinarro—, “Brindis de tangos” —Juan Mario Maffia and Chinarro—, “Por lo nuestro” —with words by Julio Camilloni— and “Que llamen por favor”. I know no recording of them.

A curiousity is that Demaría’s home in the neighborhood of Palermo —between 1945 and around 1958— is the house where for many years since, our friend and contributor Héctor Lucci had his workshop (at the Pasaje San Mateo between Jerónimo Salguero and Julián Álvarez).