Néstor Pinsón

t was around 1940 when I had a brief relationship of friendship with him. We used to meet, he, to have a few drinks, and I, to have a coffee. It was at a barroom placed at the corner of Corrientes and Callao (today Zival's book and record shop). Two things I recall clearly: the first, when he sang for me, like in a whisper, the new tune that he was getting ready. I swear that I was touched, it was like listening to Gardel. The other one, when he confessed to me that he liked whisky and as his mouth turned dry when he was sleeping, he went to bed with a soda bottle and a glass». This was told to me by a friend of mine in the radio milieu.

In his noted novel Don Segundo Sombra, its author, Ricardo Güiraldes, writes a long dedication to the characters of real life that inspired his work and, among other citations, «to my horsebreakers and herdsmen friends» and, among the latter, he refers to eleven names, one of them is Pedro Brandán. This herdsman was married to a young woman named Muñoz and with whom he had 9 children, the second of them turned out to be our singer.

In 1926 his family moved to Buenos Aires, to the capital, and two years later, already started in singing, he debuted at a café on Lavalle and Esmeralda. Somebody said that his first interpretation was “La última copa”. He was then known as Carlos Brandán. In 1929 he appeared on La Voz Del Aire radio station singing with the accompaniment of the trio led by Vicente Fiorentino. He also appeared in some soap operas aired by that station.

In 1932 he performed on the mythical stage of the Café Nacional, on 900 Corrientes Street (then a street, now an avenue). He was accompanied by the Anselmo Aieta Orchestra. It is said that when, the following year, Gardel appeared for the last time in our country, precisely at the theater next door, he paid attention to his singing and, according to Alberto Vaccarezza, he said that he would like to meet him and when that happened he foretold a good future for him. He had been interested in his baritone pitch and in his strong interpretation filled with drama. Oscar Alonso is one of the few singers of strictly Gardelian style.

With Aieta's orchestra he also performed at the old San Martín theater. Those shows were aired through the radio. Juan Canaro introduced him to the owner of Radio Prieto. The artistic director of the broadcasting was who renamed him as Oscar Alonso. (As for this person, some notes mention him as Eloy Álvarez, a cinema actor that appeared in the cast of numerous movies and who was as well awarded for one of his performances, but this is possibly a mistake and that director was Eloy Fernández, according to my interview to the singer). On the Prieto radio station he worked for a period, during the years 1938/1939 and he shared a program with Hugo Del Carril, then when one sang a tango piece, the other performed a folk tune. From 1939 to 1941 he was part of the cast of the play Boite rusa staged at the Teatro Liceo with the players José Olarra, Pierina Dealessi, among others.

As singer he always was a soloist. He made long tours of Latin America, like the one that started in Chile in 1945 and continued up to Cuba where he stayed for a long time, to such an extent that he said that this was the country he loved most after his own. As well he very often made shows in the neighborhoods and towns near Buenos Aires, but he especially recalled twenty-five continued performances with a full theater at the 25 de Mayo cinema theater in the neighborhood of Villa Urquiza.

His career was uneven, there were periods in which he did not appear and personal reasons caused a discontinuity in his recording career.

He opened with “San José de Flores” and “Llueve [b]” in 1936, accompanied by different guitarists, among them, José Canet and occasionally, by the orchestras led by Argentino Galván, the stupendous period with Héctor Artola and the final stage with Carlos García. With the latter he recorded several numbers which were released by Odeon and Varieté, that also belonged to Odeon, in four long-playing records.

In his discography there are curiosities like the “Versos de un payador al General Juan Perón” and “Versos de un payador a la señora Eva Perón”, already recorded by Hugo Del Carril. Also the number titled after the murdered unionist, Augusto Vandor, and two pieces: “San Isidro” and “Seguí como sos”, both composed by Alberto Caroprese and Miguel Grosso with lyrics by Melchor Posse (later, mayor of the city of San Isidro).

Several authors gave him tunes to be premiered by him: “La abandoné y no sabía”, “Por el camino adelante”, “Barrio pobre” and others. He was author of a couple of numbers: “Yo no quiero que le escribas” and “Tardecita de campo”.

He had brief appearances in some unimportant movies. But he can be seen to advantage in two shorts of the many that were produced by the weekly newsreel Sucesos Argentinos. Most them have been lost. On the first of them there is a rendition of the tango, “Que nunca me falte” and in the other, there is a rare version of “Senda florida”, with Juan Polito's orchestra and on vocals Carlos Roldán and Chola Luna that, alongside Oscar Alonso, sing separately a fragment each.

The motion picture Mi noche triste by Lucas Demare, premiered in January 1952, with a script very freely inspired in the life of the great lyricist Pascual Contursi, ends with a final scene in which, in off, Alonso's voice is heard singing a tango that is the title theme.

In an interview, I asked Troilo his opinion about Alonso and the singers in general, and he answered this: «Alonso was the best tango singer after Gardel, no doubt, write it down, Pinsón.»