Néstor Pinsón

e was a medium-height man, or shorter, with a wide forehead because his hair had begun to recede, with a serious face and an extreme kindness. No one, unless you knew him, would imagine when nearly every afternoon he used to enter the Café El Águila (a sort of SADAIC’s adjoining unit, which was next door and was frequented by all kinds of tango fans) with half a cigarette in his cigarette holder («How difficult is to give up smoking!», he used to say) that he was a first-rate bandoneon player and that as an orchestra leader he had appeared at demanding venues.

He was born in what now is the city of San Isidro —in the northern area of the Greater Buenos Aires— with the River Plate on its banks. Then it was a zone with weekend cottages, later, an area with elegant buildings. He began his grammar school studies together with the musicals of an institute nearby. It was there where he was charmed by the sound of a bandoneon. His teachers gave him advice. One of them was Pedro Maffia.

When he was just a teenager he joined a quartet that used to play in the intermissions shows in the movie theaters of his district and beyond, in San Fernando. Soon later he came to our capital as member of a sextet that played at the Confitería Pedigrée. It was an ambiance more familiar than other locals of the area, in the neighborhood of Palermo —on Santa Fe and Serrano—, in front of Plaza Italia, the one with Garibaldi’s equestrian statue. By playing before an audience of connoisseurs we may say that he passed the exam.

In the late November 1928 the Cátulo Castillo orchestra arrived in Spain. Several months later, his father José González Castillo, who had stayed in Buenos Aires, approached him at the Café Germinal to offer him to travel because Miguel Caló and, the bandoneonist from Mendoza, Pablo Enrique Flores had split with the orchestra and were returning to Buenos Aires. Cima accepted and there he went. It was a time of experience but it did not last long. That aggregation put together in a hurry and with few rehearsals was unable to stand out even though there were people who had a different opinion.

In our city he had the chance, it was in 1927, of appearing in the orchestra put together by Pedro Maffia for the carnival balls at the Centro Esloveno (Slovenian Center). Soon thereafter he joined the Juan Canaro’s aggregation at the Tabarís, along with José Tinelli, Ateo Dapiaggi, Adolfo Muzzi and Hugo Ricardo Baralis (double bass). Later, always for short seasons, with Adolfo Avilés, Juan Polito, Anselmo Aieta, Luis Moresco, Roberto Dimas Lurbes, Ernesto Ponzio, Antonio Bonavena, Ricardo Brignolo.

On his comeback from Europe he appeared with the quartet led by Miguel Caló which also included Luis Adesso and Raúl Kaplún for some performances at the Teatro Astral. In 1930 he immediately summoned Joaquín Mora as second bandoneon, Luis Minelli (piano) and Luis Cuervo (violin) to form a quartet to appear at a café in the neighborhood of Parque Patricios. He called other boys, among them it is worthwhile to mention the excellent pianist Héctor Lagna Fietta who later was highly respected when he continued his career entirely devoted to jazz and put together his own group. They appeared at renowned cafés downtown like El Guaraní on the northwestern corner of Corrientes and Esmeralda, at the Cabaret Franz & Fritz on Paraná 348. And also the customary routine that followed on the radio stations like Stentor, La voz del Aire, Porteña, Argentina, Del Pueblo and others.

He was not fond of staying long in a job, he switched from one to another. He made a couple of tours, one in 1936 of the city of Lima and the following year, a wider one, because he toured countries of all the Americas and arrived in Europe, this time without so many frights like in the previous voyage with Cátulo Castillo, the Malerba brothers, Roberto Maida and others.

Through the ranks of his aggregation a very young José Basso, Horacio Salgán and Juan Sánchez Gorio passed briefly.

On July 21, 1944, with the Juan D'Arienzo orchestra, the singer Héctor Mauré recorded the tango “Amarras”, one of his greatest hits and his last appearance with the orchestra. He became soloist and he commissioned Alberto Cima to put together and lead his orchestra. The debut was on LR3 Radio Belgrano on September 1, 1945. This association only lasted until September of that year. The last thing we were able to know about his career was a series of appearances with the singer Carlos Varela who had previously joined the Roberto Firpo orchestra.

José Barcia, in his note, regards him as an outstanding tango figure. Oscar Zucchi (in a personal communication) respectfully pointed out that he was a good player in a bandoneon section. About two hundred pieces are attributed to him. We single out the following: “Cuidado con los piropos” made in Spain and to wide acclaim, “Calle Corrientes”, “No volverá”, “Página de amor”, “Camino gris”, “Cortada maleva”, “Mi mamá me lo dijo”, “Muchachito”, “No pienses más”, “Adiós juventud”, “Desde lejos”, “Ridi pagliaccio”, “Pebeta loca”, “Muchachita linda”, “Punto bravo”, “Viejo barrio de Colón” and, finally, “Entre rejas invisibles”, committed to disc by Francisco Canaro in 1941 with Ernesto Famá on vocals.

As for information about him, we ignore the date of his death. A strange thing was the last event we knew about him. One afternoon Alberto Cima was going out of the above mentioned Café El Aguila but when he reached the sidewalk he fell down. Had he fainted or was it a heart attack?, or whatever. Several people went out to the street. The well-respected connoisseur and researcher, the late Héctor Ernié, told Zucchi about this. The latter had known him because they talked several times about his huge work connected with bandoneonists. In sum: they called an ambulance, they loaded it with his body and it left. We never knew about Alberto Cima. His relatives made all the necessary inquiries. Due to legal reasons, they got the court order that specified a certain date for his death, of which they had no doubts. Any possible speculations are up to the readers. Even for the chance that anyone may contribute with some information. His domicile was on San Isidro Street near Avenida General Paz, consequently, near the borders of the Federal Capital. A street with the same name of the nearby city where he was born.

Based on a note by José Barcia with contribution by Oscar Zucchi.