Néstor Pinsón

alking with friends and musicians I was surprised to know that the same thing had happened to many of them just as it had happened to me: they recognized Jorge Durán late. A man that ought to have a much wider popular acclaim, because he was an excellent singer.

It is difficult to find out the reason of this delay for his recognition. One possibility could be in our preference for vocalists with more ductility, tenors, with delicate phrasing. It’s possible.

Durán, who was nicknamed Cajón (coffin), was a baritone that conveyed much stamina and dramatism to his interpretations, but he never indulged in excess. Furthermore, when you listen to him attentively, you will discover that he did not lack ductility and that many times, his dramatism was a romantic lament.

No one in the show business used to call him by his name, everybody did it by his nickname. It happened during his first stage with the orchestra of Carlos Di Sarli. Its members had already arrived at the place where they were going to play and he, as it was his habit, came a bit later. His body appeared outlined at the end of a corridor that led into the small room where the boys were waiting. He was a man of a medium stature but with a strong complexion, with wide shoulders. That day he was wearing a gray suit for the first time, it was fashionable, ample, with wide lapels and generous shoulder reinforcements. As soon as he appeared the bandoneon player Juan Carlos Bera exclaimed: «Look, he looks like a coffin!».

He was born in the province of San Juan. His parents were Andalusian fruit growers, they had a small wine vault and they all used to sing at the time of rest.

The boy already stood out at school, to such an extent that the music teacher, when he knew that the boy was traveling to Buenos Aires to accompany his father on a business trip, he advised him to see a singing instructor.

Finally, in 1942, his family settled in Buenos Aires and Durán started to sing at some locals and tearooms. At one of those venues the bandoneonist Jorge Argentino Fernández heard him, he made him join his orchestra and immediately debuted on Radio Mitre. Soon later he left it, his goal was beyond.

By chance he got in touch with Buenaventura Luna, famous with his Tropilla de Huachi Pampa. He appeared in shows with them, recorded his first disc and began to collect his early bucks. Those early recordings were “Zamba del gaucho”, on March 13, 1944 and “En las sombras” on September 19 that same year.

In San Juan he used to sing folk tunes but here, in Buenos Aires, his friends Roberto Rufino and Alberto Marino drove him towards tango.

He joined the orchestra of the bandoneonist Emilio Balcarce and recorded “Mi Buenos Aires querido” and “Me están sobrando las penas”.

His name stands out and his fame reaches the ears of Carlos Di Sarli who goes to hear him at a night local and immediately hires him. He had no artistic name and he used his true name: Alfonso Durán.

A curious thing happened the following day. In the afternoon he sang on Radio Belgrano with Balcarce’s orchestra and in the evening he debuted with Di Sarli on Radio El Mundo. The leader replaced his name by Jorge and asked him to sing one tone higher, what he did without trouble.

This first stage with Di Sarli lasted two years and it is Durán’s most brilliant.

He had a bohemian personality, he was much fond of women and it was impossible to calculate the number of cigarettes he smoked daily.

After Di Sarli, he joined in 1947 the orchestra of Pedro Laurenz, but he did not succeed in recording. That same year he switched to Horacio Salgán’s, with which he recorded three numbers. In 1950, he joined the orchestra of José Basso, with whom he stayed three years and recorded 12 tracks. In 1954, he was with the Orquesta Símbolo Osmar Maderna, with which he recorded a single number and in 1955 with Francisco Rotundo with which he recorded two renditions.

On April 26, 1956 he began his second stage with Carlos Di Sarli which lasted until 1958, then he recorded 19 numbers.

In 1959, he put together his own orchestra with his dear friend Roberto Florio, under the conduction of the pianist Orlando Trípodi.

In 1962, he carried out a second stage with José Basso and in 1968, he collaborated with Armando Pontier. In 1970 he recorded with Oscar de la Fuente and the following year, a cassette including twelve numbers on which he was accompanied by the guitars of Juan Carlos Gorrías, Domingo Laine, Rubén Morán and Héctor Estela, this will be his last recording.

Who can think of “Porteño y bailarín”, by Carlos Di Sarli and Héctor Marcó, or “Un tango y nada más” by Armando Lacava, Juan Pomati and Carlos Waiss or “Whisky” by Héctor Marcó without recalling his voice and his phrasing so manly and as well so delicate?

He died as a consequence of a lung emphysema, typical of heavy smokers, but he never gave up singing, he did it up to the end.