Ricardo García Blaya

his porteño of the neighborhood of Palermo, owner of a crystalline voice with a tenor-like air, is undoubtedly together with Fernando Díaz one of the characteristic voices of the Francisco Lomuto orchestra.

He was a typical singer of the thirties, with a melodic delicate phrasing, with a very good intonation and good diction. He appeared on the scene at a time when great voices were springing out continuously. Let us remember, for example, Carlos Dante, Roberto Ray, Fernando Díaz, Roberto Maida, Carlos Lafuente, among others.

His professional career started in the late 1930 as soloist on the radio, accompanied by a guitar duet, already bearing his artistic name Jorge Omar. On one occasion, he was heard by the virtuoso bandoneonist and leader Minotto Di Cicco, who invited him to join his group as refrain singer in his recordings for the Columbia label.

In 1931 they recorded thirteen pieces, and “Taconeando” composed by Pedro Maffia with lyrics by José Horacio Staffolani and “Mil novecientos” by Edgardo Donato and Luis César Amadori are standouts.

That same year he collaborated with the orchestra of the label that was led by Alberto Castellanos in half a dozen of recordings, very much hard to find.

In 1932 he made just one recording with the orchestra led by Antonio Bonavena: the tango “Lunes” by José Luis Padula and Francisco García Jiménez, also for Columbia.

During all this time, his mentor was the great musician of the neighborhood of La Boca, Juan de Dios Filiberto, who finally made him join his orchestra to play at the theater farce called Villa Crespo written by Alberto Vacarezza. At that play, Jorge Omar premiered the beautiful tango “Botines viejos” written by Vacarezza himself and Filiberto. It was back in 1933, and even though that tango was a big hit, he never recorded it.

In 1935 the great chance for his definitive consecration came when he appeared for an audition to qualify for the seat that the singer Fernando Díaz was about to leave vacant in the Francisco Lomuto orchestra.

Lomuto and Canaro were, commercially speaking, the most important orchestras of their time. The former for Victor and Pirincho for Odeon, were who recorded most and, consequently, were much sought-after by vocalists who saw the chance to become stars and improve financially. For that reason, many were the contestants then, hence the importance of Jorge’s achievement who, finally turned out winner.

So the golden stage of his artistic career began, it would last eight years, and recorded a hundred and thirty-six numbers for the Victor label.

It would be very hard to make a detailed list of his records, but I highlight his renditions of Rodolfo Sciammarella’s “Arrepentido”, “Esclavo”, composed by Joaquín Mora with lyrics by José María Contursi, “Vendrás alguna vez” by Alfredo Malerba and Luis César Amadori and the waltz “Gota de lluvia” by Félix Lipesker and Homero Manzi. Also the version with lyrics of “A la gran muñeca”, one of the few existing with vocals.

In 1939, Fernando Díaz came back to the orchestra and they recorded many pieces in duo: “El sol del veinticinco”, “Los granaderos de San Martín”, “Se han sentado las carretas”, “El día que te fuiste”, “Se necesita una estrella”, “El picaflor”, “El anzuelo”, among others.

He appeared with the orchestra on the film Melgarejo, together with consecrated actors like Florencio Parravicini and Mecha Ortiz. He as well sang on theater stages with the big orchestra led by Lomuto. They were starred on El rey del tango and in 1942, on La mujer es peligrosa, in which he plays a leading role.

In the year 1943 his brilliant period with Francisco Lomuto ends and he would try new roads, but nothing would be as before. His performance in this orchestra was, no doubt, his most glorious period. In January he recorded his last record which on one side had the tango “Ausencia gris” composed by Roberto Nievas Blanco with lyrics by Julio Jorge Nelson and on the B side, the waltz “Catalina” by Rafael de León and Manuel López Quiroga.

In his new stage he teamed up with the other vocalist of Lomuto, Fernando Díaz and they put together an orchestra that they called Los Diablos Rojos, in allusion to the soccer team Independiente of Avellaneda. This experience lasted a short time and our singer then joined the José Tinelli orchestra.

Later he continued as soloist accompanied by his own group and, little by little, he would be playing less often until withdrawing from show business definitively in the late fifties.

Jorge Omar is a typical case of unjust oblivion, of the inefficient transmission of the culture of Argentine people, of the poor spreading of tango and its true artists.

I think that the fact that he was not as lucky as others in the golden period of tango that took place in the forties, may have been one of the reasons that blurred his memory. But also the lack of interest of the record industry and radio broadcasters that privileged another kind of music in the mid- fifties.

Because of all this, we established as main objective of Todo Tango, to work to recover from our past, the men and women that built tango, as is the case of this correct and delicate vocalist named Jorge Omar.