José Corriale

Real name: Corriale, José Alberto
Nicknames: Pepe
Percussionist, drummer and composer
(4 September 1915 - 7 November 1997)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Horacio Ferrer
| Osvaldo Firpo

e was a much requested percussionist. And we must also add that percussion also exists in the tango tradition. The drums appeared in the tango groups in the second decade of the twentieth century.

Pepe’s name is one of the few that appears every time that the instrument is mentioned. He was much more than a drummer, he was a complete musician and, even, a theoretician of his own art as his work La batería en el tango (Drums in Tango) demonstrated. In it he remembers that in a recording made by the Raúl Garello orchestra the drums reached the limit of the incredible —something that could not have been thought in the 40s or the 50s— when with that instrument the variation of “Canaro en París” was performed.

As an instrumentalist he was member of the orchestras led by Francisco Canaro, Osvaldo Fresedo, Julio De Caro, Carlos García, José Libertella, Armando Pontier and Lucio Demare. With the latter they played music for movies. Also he played in several aggregations fronted by Mariano Mores and by Astor Piazzolla, like the one for the operita “María de Buenos Aires” in 1968.

He was also requested for the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional. For seventeen years he was musical advisor of the Teatro Ópera when great international figures appeared at that important Buenos Aires venue. Among them: Paul Anka, Caterina Valente, Cab Calloway, Sammy Davis, Jr.

He toured several countries as accompanist of the female Spanish singer Naty Mistral. He was the first president of the Argentine Musicians’ Union.

In an interview he said: «I confess that since I was eleven years old I have been playing drums and I played all the genres. I keep tango in my soul. I always wanted that the drums had another presence in its rhythm».

He put together the Quinteto Pepeco. In it he innovated with sounds that up to that time had been unknown in tango like some made with cymbals creating new colors and surprising rhythmic variations. Piazzolla allowed him to use bongos, tom-toms, bells and güiro. «The rhythm pattern that I contributed with tom-toms in the fill-ins today is used by nearly all the arrangers that, when they do not have drummer, try to emulate them by slapping the double bass or the bandoneon body».

He studied at the Conservatorio Musical Manuel de Falla and later piano playing with the professor Weingard. He was a professional player as from 1930. A large number of singers like Susy Leiva, Carlos Acuña, Edmundo Rivero, Aldo Campoamor, Horacio Deval and others included him in the aggregations that backed them up. He played in an enormous number of recordings. He worked as educator, composed pieces of international genres and wrote a tango “Julián Centeya [b]”, to pay homage to poet.

Throughout his career he had to ignore some disdainful attitudes, due to the spread prejudice about drums in tango, but, when you have to remember a drummer always his name comes first.