Abel Palermo

ith a strong voice, a very clear diction and baritone range, he was one of the good singers that sprung up in the fifties. At the time he was in the Héctor Varela orchestra he received the widest public recognition.

He was born in the city of Buenos Aires at the Hospital Salaberry in the neighborhood of Mataderos. He spent his chilhood and youth between Ciudadela Norte and Loma del Millón in Ramos Mejía, province of Buenos Aires, a few minutes from the capital.

At that area many artists lived, among them, the singers Carlos Almagro, Andrés Peyró, Aníbal Marconi, Alfredo de la Colina, los Hermanos Bonet, Zulema Robles and Carlos Gari whose early appearances were in the neighborhood clubs: Claridad, Nolting, La Unión, Mitre, Resurgimiento, Mutual 12 de Octubre, Bomberito, Sol de América and some others I do not remember now. Armando Laborde and Argentino Ledesma also walked along the streets of those neighborhoods.

Those were times of illusions, when young boys dreamed of being stars and used to appear at talent contests for singers organized by those local institutions. From one of those contests El Puchi Padilla sprang up. He would later become Jorge Rolando. Many of those young guys studied at the Di Giorgio singing school of Ciudadela.

Rolando started his professional career with the quartet led by Aminto Vidal who, with his keyboard, used to play in the evenings at venues of Isidro Casanova.

In his long career he passed through the ranks of many orchestras. The ones I remember are the one led by the violinist Mario Azzerboni, the one of the pianist Josecito Pace —who later settled in Peru—, the one fronted by Mario Canaro, the Oscar Castagniaro’s and the one headed by Luciano Leocata.

But to complete the sequence I have to mention the one which turned out transcendental in his show business career: the one led by Héctor Varela (1960). With that consecrated aggregation he made his debut on record with the tango “Y el último beso” and on the other side of the record is “Qué te pasa vida mía” by Varela and Sara Rainer with Armando Laborde on vocals. Teaming up with the latter singer as duo he recorded four numbers, one of them, the waltz “Una lagrimita” turned out a great billboard hit and placed the singer definitively as a popular star.

Furthermore, with Varela he appeared at the popular radio show Glostora Tango Club along with his peers Laborde, Ernesto Herrera and Claudio Bergé with whom he teamed up as duo many times. As for this setting, Rolando was often required due to his notable capacity to sing a second voice.

In 1965 he split with the orchestra and went to Perú with Luciano Leocata. On his comeback he joined the aggregation led by José Pace and with them he went on a tour of Central America.

Back in Buenos Aires he joined again the Héctor Varela orchestra which at that time had Carlos Nogués as vocalist and, later, Luis Correa. With the former he cut two remarkable recordings as a duo: the milonga “El desafío” by René Ruiz with words by Charrúa -Gualberto Márquez’s sobriquet- and the waltz “Ay Aurora”. His tenure was until the late 1973, after recording “Quién me robó tu corazón” by Varela himself with Tití Rossi and words by the songwriter and female singer Irma Lacroix, sobriquet corresponding to Irma Magdalena Abrain.

After this stage he joined the bandoneon player Ernesto Rossi (Tití) to record a disc accompanying Irma Lacroix and later he started a long tour of America that included Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico.

In 1980, with the accompaniment of the orchestra conducted by Osvaldo Tarantino, he recorded an album that also featured Jorge Hidalgo, Luis Correa and Juan Carlos Jordán.

With Luis Correa and other consecrated singers: Ángel Cárdenas, Alberto Podestá, Jorge Valdez, Roberto Florio and Raúl Garcés he traveled to Colombia after signing with La Casa Gardeliana de Medellín.

At the final stage of his career he sang at different venues, among them I recall the mythical Vos Tango of Villa Lugano and the restaurant Gustavito, whose owner was the beloved friend Julio Mandunga. There appeared the artists of Grandes valores del tango, the Channel 9 TV show. The master of ceremonies of the show was our great friend and as well singer, Carlos del Mar, today living in Spain where he goes on broadcasting tango.

In his latter years he settled in San Miguel, province of Buenos Aires, where he died at a young age when he was only 56 years old.

When writing these short lines about his life, his nice renditions of two tango pieces with the Héctor Varela orchestra come to my mind: “Que sigan charlando” and “Demasiado tarde”. I must admit that when I hear them I am deeply touched.