Mario Marmo

Real name: Marmo, Mario
Pianist, leader and arranger
(7 January 1940 - 26 November 2016)
Place of birth:
Comodoro Rivadavia (Chubut) Argentina
Silvia Nieves

e was born in the Patagonia, in the city of Comodoro Rivadavia (province of Chubut) and is son of Gerardo José Luis Marmo and Estela Maria, both born in Italy.

His brother Miguel taught him the first music notes. He began his piano studies in his hometown and continued them in Buenos Aires at the Instituto Santa Catalina where he studied violin playing for six years. He also studied with Julio De Caro.

His professional debut was on May 24, 1955 when he joined the orchestra of the Club Atlético Independiente as violinist but an unexpected event took place: the staff pianist was absent. Then the orchestra leader —Tito Reyna— included him as pianist and, from then on he chose that instrument for good.

He was member of the tango quartet Los Cuatro Ases, led by Rafael Roca, which included Alberto Fontán —Toto— as vocalist. With that aggregation he played in the intermission shows of a large number of movie theaters. He also appeared on Radio Mitre, Radio Belgrano and Radio El Mundo. From 1958 to 1960 with that outfit he appeared at the tearoom El Olmo in Plaza Once and shared the bill with Héctor Mauré, Julio Sosa, Alberto Morán and other outstanding figures.

For a short time which meant for him a wonderful time, he substituted for Lalo Benítez, the pianist of the Alfredo Gobbi orchestra, on a tour of the province of Córdoba. He as well played in the orchestra led by Juan Sánchez Gorio for a season.

In 1960, even though he was in the military service, he went on playing at the Tango Bar in the neighborhood of Flores and at the Café Marconi of Plaza Once.

In 1961 along with Guillermo Rico he began a ninety-day tour throughout the southern region of the Argentine Republic. Then he stayed two years in his hometown and appeared at the most important tango venues there.

As from 1964 and up to 1966 he played in a new aggregation he put together: Las Estrellas del Ritmo which, besides tango music, played tropical music. The group appeared at the carnival balls in Esquel, San Antonio Oeste, Trelew and Puerto Madryn. He also used to appear at the cabaret of Caleta Olivia alongside maestro Ravallo, brother of the female singer Estela Raval.

Thereafter, in Buenos Aires, he accompanied the great choreographer and folk music dancer Santiago Ayala —El Chúcaro— and his dancing partner Norma Viola.

He appeared at different tango venues and shared the bill with Alberto Marino and Edmundo Rivero. With his group he appeared on the movie Un italiano en Argentina which starred Vittorio Gassman, Silvana Pampanini and the Argentine actress Nelly Panniza.

Later he decided to interrupt his career for a ten-year period during which his children Mario Luis and Mónica Estela were born.

In 1976 Enrique Miranda (bandoneon player), who had also joined the orchestra of the Club Independiente together with Jorge de Luca (violinist), put together his own group and summoned him to join the aggregation as piano player. He was able to persuade him and so he came back to the tango scene. That same year Carlos Marani, owner of Estudio Paraná —a place with several rooms for rehearsal— hired him as maestro of repertoire for singers.

Thereafter he formed the Trío Marmo and the quintet Buenos Aires Cinco and started his work as arranger. With those groups and, especially, due to their interpretations and his arrangements, he evidenced the quite danceable features that adorn his style.

He was and still is the ideal musician for many singers he backed up and still accompanies. As arranger he designs his ideas within the Decarean concept and he is a great admirer of Aníbal Troilo and Alfredo Gobbi.

He accompanied Jorge Sobral at the Teatro Presidente Alvear and shared the bill with Rafael Nicolau and Alberto Garralda.

Another of his facets is the difficult task of writing special arrangements for duos, trios, quartets — of course, also for more voices— because he succeeds in placing each range as an instrumental device in which the lead voice stands out.

Since December 14, 1988 he is married to the female singer Silvia Nieves –the writer of this portrayal- and with whom he had another daughter: Natalia Lorena.

Marmo is an up-to-date musician with his own light and a constant searcher. Nowadays (2013) he carries out an important teaching work and has a large number of students because of his capacity as educator, his honesty about the way he feels tango and his personalized devotion. But, above all things, he is a man of honor, fully devoted to his family, an indefatigable worker and a human being loved by everybody in the milieu.