Ricardo García Blaya

reat pianist, arranger, leader and composer, that adds the finesse owned by those chosen to produce music of high quality to his skilled interpretation. He reminisces the mood suggested by the great tango artists that preceded him. He, at times sounds like Carlos Di Sarli, other times like Julio De Caro and Osvaldo Fresedo.

As a pianist and arranger, he was influenced by his contemporaries Horacio Salgán and, mainly, Astor Piazzolla, with whom he played as pianist in his 1946 orchestra.

He started to study piano in his neighborhood, San Cristóbal. Later, Carlos García introduced him to his teacher Pedro Rubione, who was also Salgán's instructor.

His older brother, Giuseppe, better known as Pepe El Tano Tanguero (the Italian tango fan), played bandoneon and led a group with which he managed to raise his family. He had his first public experience with it.

Later he joined the Roberto Dimas orchestra which was then playing at the Marzotto café on Corrientes Street. He was just a teenager that was attending high school.

Nélida Rouchetto tells us: «Pedro Maffia once went to the café and, after hearing him, asked his father if he would allow the kid to work in his cabaret Tibidabo. Don Antonio, his father, thought it over for a while and answered him: —See, Pedrito, I'll say yes on one condition: as soon as he finishes working you yourself take him to the number 16 streetcar so that he comes straight home. Atilio is a good kid and I don't want him living in a cabaret environment. Years later Atilio dedicated a tango titled “Viejo gringo”, to his father in homage for his loving affection». (magazine Los grandes del tango, year 1, number 54, November 1991, page 12).

Later he joined the Roberto Rufino orchestra, led by Alberto Cámara. He was only 19 years old and he was then a complete professional.

Because of his gigs, in 1946, he met Astor Piazzolla, who was then putting together his orchestra, which he joined until its dismembering in 1948.

He continued with his classical music training and his studies of harmony and composition. He joined the Mariano Mores orchestra for two musical comedies and, in 1949, he switched to the Juan Carlos Cobián group.

In 1950, during the government of General Perón he was granted a scholarship to study with maestro Carlos Zecchi at the Santa Cecilia conservatory in Rome. After some time, his friends Julián Plaza and Alfredo Marcucci persuaded him into quitting the conservatory to make a tour and so, for two years, he toured Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Europe.

In 1952, he returned to Buenos Aires and put together the Stampone-Federico Orchestra, with which they recorded a disc for the TK label, with the numbers: “Criolla linda”, by Vicente Gorrese, Bernardo Germino and Luis Rubistein and “Tierrita”, by Agustín Bardi and Jesús Fernández Blanco, with Antonio Rodríguez Lesende on vocals.

Later, the bandoneonist Leopoldo Federico was hired to conduct the Radio Belgrano orchestra and then Atilio made his dream come true: leading his own orchestra. With it he recorded two 78 rpm, one in 1955, with the numbers “El Marne”, by Eduardo Arolas and his tango “Afiches”, with lyrics by Homero Expósito with Héctor Petray on vocals. The following year: “Nueve puntos”, by Francisco Canaro and “Confesión”, by Enrique Santos Discépolo and Luis César Amadori, with the same singer.

Again he was requested by Piazzolla, this time to join the Octeto Buenos Aires. They recorded two LP's, the first of them, Tango Progresivo, for the Allegro label, is a hard-to-find collectors' item because it was released with a poor sound quality and had to be withdrawn from the record shops.

In 1958, when he had already split with the Octeto, the Atilio Stampone orchestra recorded its first LP which was released in the United States. “El once (A divertirse)”, by Osvaldo Fresedo, “La rayuela”, by Julio De Caro, “Cabulero”, by Leopoldo Federico and “Sensiblero”, by Julián Plaza are standouts.

In 1959, he joined the Microfón label, where he recorded a double 45 rpm record, with two instrumentals and two with Ricardo Ruiz on vocals. With this record company he has worked up to now and has recorded over ten long playing records. In his work for this label he also accompanied popular singers and played in a tango revivalist group, Palais de Glace.

He wrote the music score for the movies directed by Leopoldo Torre Nilson Un guapo del 900 and La mano en la trampa.

In 1964, he opened his night local Caño 14, now a mythical venue for tango history: His partners were: the former soccer player Rinaldo Martino and the actor Pedro Aleandro. In those years so difficult for tango, Caño 14 meant a transcendental place for the lovers of the genre. The most important names performed there. Nélida Rouchetto tells us: «There, Atilio had the possibility of making his musical conceptions be heard and to find the channel to express his own musical language, whose achievement had become an obsession», and she adds, «breaking the rigid structure of playing, surprising with his solos and the string writing and definitively saying adieu to the danceable music that hindered his flight». (magazine Los grandes del tango, year 1, number 54, November 1991, page 28).

In August 1972, the record titled Concepto, was released. It meant, for this writer, a radical change of sensitivity in the way of enjoying avant-garde tango. It is, no doubt, the best work of this artist. The record begins with a majestic choir and continues with the vibrant chords of “Responso”, the beauty of the arrangement stands out as well as the melancholy bandoneon played by Osvaldo Montes. Next comes “Orgullo criollo” with a baroque mood interspersed with a highly expressive tango beat, that, according to my point of view, is revolutionary and beautiful.

The musicians that comprised his orchestra on that record were: Eduardo Walczak and Tito Besprovan (violins), Abraham Selenson (viola), Enrique Lanoo (cello), Osvaldo Montes (bandoneon), Rubén Ruiz (guitar) and Omar Murtagh (double bass).

In his work as composer these pieces stand out: “Afiches”, “Con pan y cebolla”, “De Homero a Homero”, “Desencanto” all with lyrics by Homero Expósito, “Aguatero”, “Cadícamo” lyrics by Enrique Bugatti, “Ciudadano”, “Concertango”, “El Nino”, “El Tapir”, “Fiesta de mi ciudad”, milonga, lyrics by Andrés Lizárraga, “Fiesta y milonga”, milonga, with lyrics by Eladia Blázquez, “Impar”, “Mi amigo Cholo” lyrics by Albino Gómez, “Mocosa” lyrics by Andrés Lizárraga, “Para violín y piano”, “Romance de tango” and “Un guapo del 900”.