Ricardo García Blaya

his peculiar musician is a faithful follower of the traditional rhythmical style played by Edgardo Donato and Juan D'Arienzo.

Criticized by innovators and praised by the dancers, his orchestra enjoyed a great popularity in the forties and fifties, either in Argentina or in the rest of Latin America.

His style was a breakthrough for the groups of the period, because he played all kinds of genres, introduced miscellaneous instruments and his repertoire, always assorted, only included merry or romantic tunes.

But when he played tango, you heard the brilliant sound of a well-rehearsed orchestra, with simple nice arrangements and also with very good vocalists.

The collector and researcher Emilio Pichetti tells us: «Enrique Rodríguez was a complete functional musician, besides playing bandoneon, he equally played piano and violin or brandished the baton. He was talented and was fast to easily write simple arrangements and versions of consecrated classical and popular melodies of all countries, without depriving them of their essence of international beat. So the success of his orchestra was strengthened not only in our milieu, but also in the whole continent for the delight of listeners and dancers».

In some biographies he appears as if he was born in the city of La Plata, capital of the province of Buenos Aires, in others it is said that he was born in the city of Buenos Aires.

His early gigs playing bandoneon took place in cinema theaters in neighborhoods, playing the musical background for silent movies. He played in duo with a pianist.

When the radio days began in Argentina, he appeared joining small groups in gaucho soap operas broadcast by radio. He briefly joined some line-ups, like the ones led by Ruso Antonio Gutman, Juan Maglio, Juan Canaro and Ricardo Brignolo.

In 1926, he debuted in the sextet of Joaquín Mora and after other stints, he joined the Edgardo Donato Orchestra. Although he stayed briefly in the latter group he was influenced, surely, impressed by the agility and brilliance of its beat.

In 1934, he joined a trio to back the singer Francisco Fiorentino on Radio Belgrano. The following year he formed a quartet with the same purpose, but for the actress and singer María Luisa Notar, who soon thereafter would become his wife.

In this quartet musicians of the level of Lalo Scalise on piano, Gabriel Clausi on bandoneon and the violinist Antonio Rodio played.

Finally in 1936 he put together his own orchestra that he called: «La orquesta de todos los ritmos». Polkas, waltzes, tangos, foxtrots, pasodobles and rancheras are played for an audience that danced and sang the tunes with enthusiasm and joy.

It was the choice orchestra to play at parties and balls, because besides its features it was a low budget group, since it made unnecessary the complement of another, tropical or jazz, orchestra.

In 1937, the Odeon company hired him as exclusive artist and this relationship was kept for 34 years, recording over 350 tracks.

Roberto Flores (El Chato) was his first vocalist with whom he recorded 35 numbers. But the singer that stood out was, undoubtedly, Armando Moreno (El Niño Moreno), who joined the orchestra in three different periods. This team left indelible footprints in the tango memory. With him he recorded around two hundred sides and several tours of Latin America, and especially Colombia, where they were idolized. Years later, in 1965, they reprised that boom in Perú. On that tour the already experienced singer Raúl Iriarte was included. The latter was featured to advantage in Miguel Caló Orchestra in the 40s.

The vocalists Ricardo Herrera, Fernando Reyes, Omar Quirós, Roberto Videla, José Torres, Oscar Galán, Ernesto Falcón, Cruz Montenegro and Dorita Zárate as well passed through the ranks of his orchestra.

He composed many pieces, among them these are standouts: “Amigos de ayer”, “En la buena y en la mala”, “Iré”, “Llorar por una mujer”, “Son cosas del bandoneón”, “Yo también tuve un cariño”, “Lagrimitas de mi corazón”, “Tengo mil novias”, all them with lyrics by Enrique Cadícamo; “Adiós, adiós amor” with Roberto Escalada; “Café” with Rafael Tuegols; “Como has cambiado pebeta” with R. Carbone; “Flor de lis” with Horacio Sanguinetti; “Sandía calada” with Máximo Orsi; among many others.

But with no doubt, the most successful recording and the best seller was his waltz “Tengo mil novias” sung by Roberto Flores.

Pichetti added: «In 1944 he made an attempt to modify harmonically his style by including Armando Cupo in his outfit as pianist and arranger, the bandoneonist Roberto Garza, arranger as well and Omar Murtagh swapping between violoncello and double bass. So he performed several tango pieces with notable instrumental proficiency: “Naranjo en flor”, “La vi llegar”, “Luna llena”, “Y así nació este tango” and “El africano”. But the public preferred the «Orquesta de todos los ritmos» and, in 1946, after Cupo and Garza left, he returned to the danceable style, keeping that style for the rest of his career».

The more refined tango audiences despised his style and ignored him. I respect him because everything he did was well done, in a professional way, even those things we may consider of an inferior quality. But above all, his was a very good tango orchestra, with beautiful harmonious sound, either for listening or for dancing tango music.