Roberto Améndola

he story of tango musicians who during their professional career were interested in two instruments, either successively or at the same time, is a very rich one. The violinist Julio De Caro began by studying piano, encouraged by a severe father and his brother Francisco —pianist— began by studying violin for the same reason. When they were capable of deciding by themselves, still in their childhood, they switched their instruments and were devoted to the ones which drove them to their consecration.

In his early years Pedro Maffia was devoted to piano and Pedro Laurenz, to violin, before they became the great bandoneonists that unraveled the intimate mystery of the bandoneon for all the times to come.

Emilio Balcarce played violin as a virtuoso and bandoneon, as a professional, just like Astor Piazzolla and Julián Plaza used to play both bandoneon and piano.

We may add other names like: Eduardo Arolas, Graciano De Leone, Roberto Di Filippo, Leopoldo Thompson and many others.

Let us add to these stories the one of Fernando Cabarcos, a bandoneon player, who after his arrival in the world of the tango orchestra, began to study double bass playing encouraged by his cousin, the great bass player Kicho Díaz, who was also his teacher. After that the double bass was his only instrument and which accompanied him throughout his career.

He was born in Gerli, a city in the Greater Buenos Aires near the capital. In his family, music was a permanent dweller. He was twelve when he began to study bandoneon playing to which he was fully devoted in his teen years. He was only fifteen when he traveled to the city of Tres Arroyos where he joined a music group for the first time. It was the Orquesta Los Díaz, lined up by his cousins.

Thereafter he joined several tango orchestras: the one led by José Fernández, the Orquesta Típica Nucifor, the Orquesta Típica Aloy and the one fronted by Roberto Pranteda. Besides local appearances he made tours throughout the northern area of our country.

After switching to double bass he appeared again with those same aggregations but now in his role as bass player. With the orchestra of the guitarist Diego Centeno he made his debut on radio and appeared with the group led by the bandoneonist Juan Carlos Caviello also on the radio.

In 1942, the peak of the forties, when every day a tango was born and which surely will be made famous by the passing of time there was a turning point for Fernando because he joined the Alfredo Gobbi orchestra by replacing his cousin Pepe Díaz. It is his definitive consecration and the beginning of his successful career.

Thereafter he plays in the orchestras led by Juan Carlos Cobián, by Orlando Goñi and by Alberto Mancione. He was also member of the aggregations fronted by José Basso and by Francisco Canaro.

In 1945 he joined the Francini-Pontier orchestra for a long tenure and stayed until the aggregation was dismembered.

In this orchestra he was acquainted with the pianist Juan José Paz with whom he created a rhythm section which is regarded as one of the most important ones of that period. They recorded all the series for RCA-Victor (1945-1955). The renditions of “Arrabal”, “A los amigos”, “Boedo”, “Chiqué”, “La beba”, etc. are highlights that still today are impressive.

He later played in the brand-new orchestra put together by Armando Pontier. As from 1956 this aggregation had Julio Sosa, Roberto Florio and later Oscar Ferrari as vocalists. This relationship lasted until 1965.

With Enrique Alessio he teamed up as a bandoneon and double bass duo and, time later, he appeared with Ernesto Baffa and Osvaldo Berlingieri. For posterity he left a handful of masterfully performed renditions. His artistry as soloist is evidenced in tangos like “Inspiración”, “Orgullo criollo”, “N.N.” and “Adiós Nonino”.

The Baffa-Berlingieri orchestra required his work likewise the Orquesta Típica Porteña conducted by Raúl Garello which committed to disc several numbers backing up Roberto Goyeneche.

By this time, Fernando Cabarcos was one of the most renowned and highly regarded personalities of double bass in Buenos Aires. He was requested by the great aggregations and in the sixties he was member of the Federico-Berlingieri-Cabarcos trio. Furthermore, Leopoldo Federico included him in his orchestra and with it he traveled to Japan in 1976.

The Leopoldo Federico trios with the pianist Oscar Britos and, later, Orlando Trípodi had him as member.

Besides his strictly tango activity, Fernando Cabarcos had been first contrabass in the Symphony Band of the Air Force since 1961.

Teaching was not foreign to his manifold work in music. Also in it bandoneon and double bass come together.

He was as well an outstanding composer. One of his compositions that stood out is the tango “Tan sólo por verte”, recorded by Francini-Pontier in an unforgettable rendition of 1950 with Julio Sosa on vocals. In 1994 it was committed to disc by Luis Cardei.

He also composed the tango “Aerotango” which was recorded by Armando Pontier (1963), Baffa-Berlingieri (1969) and the Orquesta Típica El Arranque. Furthermore he wrote a waltz with Julio Sosa: “Y no habrá un adiós”.

Up to here we have the summarized story of one of the great double bass players that enriched tango. He passed away in 1978, a few days after recording a disc for the Music hall label with the Leopoldo Federico trio which Leopoldo named in his honor: «Homenaje al amigo».

He departed leaving behind his work and the seed of his talent in the fertile land of his son’s virtuosity: the double bass player Horacio Cabarcos.