Néstor Pinsón

y Dad was very fond of tango and I was a kid that was beginning to delve into tango. One day he called me with a shout: «Come here, listen to this rendition!». It was “La cumparsita” in a quite different rendering of the ones known. He had always liked the musicians that with their arrangements had tried to express something different. He had the records cut by Maderna and the ones of the short-lived orchestra fronted by Héctor Artola (two attempts of a search towards new sounds in tango). When I stepped by his side to listen he whispered to me: «It’s an European orchestra». When the speaker on the radio said it was the Alain Debray orchestra, he said: «What did I say? A French, very good, eh?». He came back on the issue some months later when he knew that Debray was a stage name for Malvicino.

In his book El tano y yo the musician himself tells us: «Rodríguez Luque, a radio man and an excellent producer did a lot for me so that I became director of the RCA Victor company. One day the French branch of RCA suggested me producing an instrumental record with original numbers of South America and two tangos of Argentina. I picked up “La cumparsita” and “El choclo” and, furthermore, they wanted a rather for export version, in sum, a European one.

«I wrote the charts and some details like substituting the bandoneon for an accordion, adding some percussion, also those sticks used in tropical music, violins in unison and brass. Then it was recorded and sent. It was Horacio Malvicino and his orchestra.

«I forgot to say that two years later a publicist found in the RCA files a musical opening for the campaign of a product in television. It was a two-minute-long ad and, quite soon the record shops began to ask the record label for that rendition of “La cumparsita” which was much sought after by the audience.

«Soon 45 rpm discs were released with that tango and, on the other side of the disc, the music of the French movie Zeta was included. The disc label said: «by Alain Debray and the Champs-Élysées orchestra». It was because my Italian surname did not match so they mixed Alain, for the actor Delon, and the last name Debray, for the French journalist that had interviewed Che Guevara, Régis Debray. It was reeleased in 26 countries. Two million copies were sold but here when people knew it was not a French but an Argentine musician sales decreased a lot».

Other tangos recorded later as Debray were: “A media luz”, “Adiós pampa mía”, “Balada para un loco”, “Caminito”, “Cicatrices”, “El pañuelito” and “El escondite de Hernando” (Hernando’s Hideaway).

Furthermore, the trio Los Muchachos de Antes, with a repertoire of the old times was an idea of the outstanding narrator Juan Francisco López (Lopecito). The musicians, also connected to jazz, were: Panchito Cao (leader and clarinetist), Aldo Nicolini (string bass) and Malvicino (electric guitar). The numbers in the songbook were: “El esquinazo”, “El torito”, “Qué noche”, “Amor y celos”, “Armenonville”, “El Porteñito”, “El africano”, “El apache argentino”, among other classic numbers.

As arranger and leader he did all kinds of things: he wrote for musicals on television, jingles, music for movies and accompanied a large number of groups in different genres and in tango. But his field was jazz until Astor Piazzolla summoned him.

In 1955 the composer of “Nonino” suggested him to join his octet along with Enrique Francini, José Bragato, Hugo Baralis, Roberto Pansera —soon replaced by Leopoldo Federico—, Atilio Stampone and Aldo Nicolini —later replaced by Juan Vasallo— and Astor himself, El maestro (as Malvicino calls him in his book).

Before the debut they decided to ask Osvaldo Pugliese to listen to them. It was a performance with several numbers only for him to listen made at the Rendez Vous, the Osvaldo Fresedo’s local. After that they asked him if what they intended to present was tango or wasn’t. Pugliese, seriously, told them it was and so they went ahead.

The opening was at the palace Hume owned by don Ignacio Pirovano, located on Alvear Avenue and Rodríguez Peña, later headquarters of the Ministry of Culture of the Nation. The owner of the house was present with some guests he had invited.

The octet caused a true revolution. The more traditional listeners —nearly up to the present— never ceased of criticizing that music but for other cultural groups of that time it was an innovation and aroused admiration. But insults lasted for years. Today Piazzolla is accepted worldwide. Symphony orchestras, quartets and soloists all around the world play his transcriptions.

Malvicino got in touch with tango at age sixteen in Concordia, his hometown, with the bandoneonist Alberto Caracciolo and the guitarist Héctor Besada. Later they formed a group to play in Buenos Aires on Radio Splendid but it was not tango but Hawaiian music. Caracciolo played organ and wrote the arrangements.

«My father had to allow me to go because I was a minor. When I finally settle in the Capital I began to study medicine and live at humble hotels and catch any job I get at hand. But my money was not enough and I had to wear always the same clothes. For that reason some partner began to call me Malvestiti. Time later the well-remembered Héctor Gagliardi began to call me Malveta, its sound was better, and so it remained up to to now.

“The Octet was not taken into account for recordings but the first independent record label, Disc Jockey, appeared. It was the result of the effort of six associates, I was one of them. The founder, the one of the idea, Rodríguez Luque, was a radio man with a successful music program which was aired nightly on Radio Mitre, —Música en el aire, which aired popular music but not tango. We cut two vinyls, in the second there was a number by each one of the members. “Tema otoñal” (Francini), “Anoné” (Hugo Baralis), “Neo tango” —now “Cabulero”— (Leopoldo Federico) and “Tangology” (Malvicino). The octet did not last long, it was not a comercial hit and its members followed different roads.

«Then the first quintet by Astor came, with Simón Bajour (violin), Kicho Díaz (string bass), Jaime Gosis (piano), El Maestro, and I with my guitar. We recorded an LP that received a great acclaim. In it for the first time “Nonino” (Astor’ father) was included and tours began, firstly in the continent and later, around the world and all its corners».

In his book he admits his unpunctuality and his fondness for horse racing, a vice he inherited from his father and which he also transmitted to his two older sons. He lost money but he had the satisfaction, when he was in a better financial situation, of possessing his own stud, the San Antonio.

He also said that when Bajour split with the quintet, he accompanied Astor to Rosario to listen to a violinist that someone had recommended to him. Curiously, they saw the man playing an accordion. It was Antonio Agri who played both instruments.

Time later, Piazzolla decided to stay in France and Malvicino started an important activity as arranger, put together several aggregations and accompanied singers of la nueva ola, an anodyne music that was displacing tango.

«Around the 60s I was again with Astor. It was on Radio El Mundo along with Gosis, Elvino Vardaro and other boys. A real privilege. His “Nonino” became “Adiós Nonino” to which he always added something. When he wrote an arrangement which included a piano solo of a minute and a half at the beginning he thought that Dante Amicarelli might play it. At the rehearsal everything went all right but Astor was angry because the piano player had no trouble. It was known that if his work did not pose problems he was in a bad mood. Those were things inherent to Astor. Then he changed everything and brought a new arrangement full of tricks and complications. He called Dante Amicarelli again. The latter sat at the piano, had a glimpse on the written music and played without mistakes. Astor was mad and before he would start to say anything, Dante murmured as if talking to himself: «This little chart is nice!» End of problem and so it was committed to record».

The changes in personnel with Piazzolla were usual. After a period they did not play together they met again in Los Eléctricos, a group that included Juan Carlos Cirigliano (electric piano), Adalberto Cevasco (electric bass), El Gordo Giacobbe (organ), Daniel Piazzolla (percussion) and Antonio Agri (violin). They later split and Horacio continued with his things, using new stage names: Gino Bonetti, El Gaitero de Texas and others.

«I met Astor again for a new idea of his, a sextet. Instead of a violin, a violoncello: José Bragato, Gerardo Gandini (piano), Héctor Console (bass), Julio Pane, along with the leader, as second bandoneon, and I with my dear guitar. Thereafter due to different reasons Ángel Ridolfi replaced Console and Daniel Binelli substituted for Pane. The aggregation was not working, there were inner misunderstandings and these musical difficulties brought to Astor some health troubles. Soon later he decided not to play in a group any more. It was in Paris and there when he stepped down the car that had taken us, he looked at nobody and when he passed by my side he told me: «Bye, Tano!» That was the last time I saw him. He continued for two years making tours with symphonic groups until the had the stroke».

Finally, it is important to highlight that he played jazz with all the great musicians of the world and, as for tango, besides his fundamental period with Astor, he put together groups to accompany a large number of vocalists in recordings. Just as examples and with no chronological order, he backed up Horacio Casares, Hugo Marcel and Elvira De Grey's.

Notes excerpted from his book El tano y yo, Editorial Corregidor, 2007.