Hernán Volpe

emperamental is the descriptive expression most suited to define the interpretive style of this bandoneon player so important in the 1950s and 1960s. His outstanding sound and his abilities as “fueye cadenero” (leading player) made him unique in the style that he embraced as his own: the one of Juan D'Arienzo’s. His playing technique on that instrument was inborn. He possessed a perfect fingering with both hands and an expressive natural manner when playing, and he knew that mistakes or wrong notes were not frequent for him. You have to listen to his recorded renditions for Los Solistas in which his bandoneon is showcased in “Mi dolor”, “Canaro en París”, “Paciencia” and many others.

Son of don Luis Juan Lazzari, merchant in the neighborhood of Saavedra —today Villa Pueyrredón—, and doña María Josefa Erice, both Argentines. Their familiar home was placed on 3157 Franco Street. It had a wide courtyard that sheltered his early tango chords. He studied bandoneon with maestro Alejandro Junnissi at a time in which learning was more based on the natural capacities of the student than on the teaching talent of the few instructors that devoted themselves to the task of transferring knowledge. (Once Lazzari himself told me that those lessons were very primitive and rudimentary).

While a teenager and after having joined some juvenile orchestras in the neighborhood he made his debut as professional in the Pedro Mafia orchestra along with Cayetano Cámara (bandoneon), Lalo Scalise (piano), Emilio Puglisi (violin) and the legendary Francisco de Lorenzo (double bass); but it was a very short tenure because Maffia dismembered his orchestra in 1939. Later he switched to the great Orquesta de las Estrellas led by Miguel Caló, no less. The aggregation at that time (1942) included Domingo Federico, Armando Pontier, José Cambareri and Felipe Ricciardi (bandoneons); Enrique Francini, Ángel Bodas, Ariol Gessaghi and Aquiles Aguilar (violins); Osmar Maderna (piano and arrangements); Ariel Pedernera (double bass) and the vocalists Alberto Podestá, Raúl Iriarte and Raúl Berón. A true all-star team!

When the Orquesta de las Estrellas was dismembered, Carlos Lazzari followed Osmar Maderna and had a short tenure alongside the great innovator and keyboard virtuoso who died very young in an airplane accident.

In chronological order it is the time of joining one of the most legendary aggregations in the history of tango: the Francisco Canaro tango orchestra. He was associated to the great tango hero for several seasons and played in the orchestra with renowned musicians like Minotto Di Cicco, Alfredo De Franco and Ramón Torreyra (bandoneons); Antonio D'Alessandro, Octavio Scaglione, Napolitano and De la Rosa (violins); Jonte (double bass); Luis Pastor (percussion); Ranieri (trombone); Vicente Merico (clarinet) and the vocalists Guillermo Coral and Alberto Arenas.

There were years of splendor alongside Canaro!; recordings for the Odeon label, musical comedies at the Teatro Alvear (El tango en París, La canción de los barrios and Luna de miel para tres), tours throughout the interior of the country and Montevideo, the early sound movies (some sort of video clips) or appearances in motion pictures (you can see Lazzari playing the tango “Mirlo blanco”); balls in neighborhood clubs, carnival parties and shows on Radio Belgrano. By the end of the tango golden decade the young Carlos Lazzari earned three times the month wage of his father and succeeded in buying a house for his parents and a car for himself. On May 28, 1947 they recorded for Odeon “La canción de Buenos Aires” and the day after he split with the orchestra in very good terms with don Pirincho Canaro.

Later he switched to the orchestra led by Domingo Federico —the first one to quit Caló in 1943— whose pianist at that time was the very young Osvaldo Berlingieri. (Job opportunities were so many that musicians were switching from one orchestra to another in search of better payment or simply better artistic conditions).

A very attractive anecdote that describes the lordly period they lived by the 1940s and 1950s tells us that Lazzari had promised Domingo Federico to join his orchestra. In the meantime between his tenure with Canaro and his joining Federico, Aníbal Troilo himself invited Lazzari to join his orchestra but his word of honor had been given and he complied with it so he missed that unique chance of playing alongside Pichuco.

On September 4, 1950, before his 25th birthday, he married Rosa Leonor Pesce who was his wife until his death. They were married for 59 years and had two children.

But fate had for him his most outstanding stage: his association with Juan D'Arienzo, the king of rhythm.

It took place in 1950 when Héctor Varela quit the orchestra to put together his own. With Varela also quit another bandoneon player, Alberto San Miguel, and those empty posts enabled the arrival of Enrique Alessio and Carlos Lazzari. The other players in the bandoneon section were Eladio Blanco, Aldo Junnissi and Felipe Ricciardi. On piano and musical arrangements was Fulvio Salamanca, the lead violin was Cayetano Puglisi, alongside Blas Pensato, Clemente Arnaiz and Jaime Ferrer, and on double bass was Olindo Sinibaldi. The singers were Armando Laborde and Alberto Echagüe.

After the withdrawals of, firstly, Salamanca and, later, Alessio, D'Arienzo entrusted Lazzari with the writing of the orchestra charts and placed him as lead bandoneon player. It was a 26-year tenure until January 14, 1976 when D'Arienzo passed away and the orchestra was dismembered. When Lazzari began to retouch the traditional charts of the repertoire and add new ones, among which there were no less than a hundred pieces of his own, a new stage of the orchestra began. The shape was not changed, the style was maintained unaltered, but the harmonic conception was greatly enriched and that is evidenced in a cleaner and widely improved sound. Lazzari had stamped his seal and that is undoubtable, you only have to listen to the recordings of the orchestra as from 1957. Of course he had the total support by the leader —who allowed him to do it- but had to bear the criticism of those who did not like it and who soon were heard. (The same happened to Troilo when he allowed Osvaldo Berlingieri to do his own. It was around the same time).

Another significant event for Lazzari was the finding of the singer Jorge Valdez. He discovered him at a cinema theater in a neighborhood where he was, accompanied by guitars, singing in the intermission shows. He waited for him at the theater exit and gave him his card so that he would meet him on Radio El Mundo where he introduced him to D'Arienzo. After an audition he immediately joined the orchestra. We all know about the success that Jorge Valdez achieved. In 1972 Juan D'Arienzo himself suggested Lazzari to put together a smaller group because of two simultaneous things: Juan was a little bit tired and job chances were not as they used to be.

So Los Solistas de D'Arienzo were born with Normando Lazzara (piano), Milo Dojman (violin), Enrique Guerra (double bass) and Lazzari (bandoneon). The singers were Osvaldo Ramos and Alberto Echagüe. He was also allowed by Alberto Lafuente, heir of the leader, to form the Orquesta Símbolo Juan D'Arienzo and travel to Japan from the 1980s until the 2000s, with wide acclaim. One of the last appearances of the quartet included Héctor Guri (double bass), Daniel Margenat and later Ricardo Buonvicino (violin), Raúl Monti and later Alfredo Montoya (piano), the vocalist Walter Gutiérrez (who died in 2005) and Lazzari.

As composer, his most outstanding pieces are: the waltz “De vuelta” with lyrics by Carlos Bahr, recorded twice by Carlos Di Sarli; and the tangos “Calla bandoneón”, “Este es el rey”, “Más grande que nunca”, “Castigo y pasión” and among many others, maybe the most inspired one: “Julie”, also recorded by the Osvaldo Pugliese orchestra. No doubt, Juan D'Arienzo widely favored Lazzari, because he officially recorded over a hundred of his numbers, a figure that another composer hardly can challenge. Lastly, we must highlight Lazzari’s work as educator, a task he carried out for many years. One of his most renowned disciples is Cristian Zárate.

His life was spent along the roads of tango with the passion of popular music in his blood. So was Carlos Lazzari’s passage throughout this life. Thanks, maestro!