Ricardo García Blaya

t seems that he has stepped out of a Roberto Arlt’s story, with his hoarse voice, his lilting chat and his night creature appearance. He is a character with the skin of Buenos Aires, impossible to conceive in another geographic latitude.

His bandoneon breathes neighborhood, transmits the perfume of courtyards with wisteria flowers, sounds of dusty ground and cafés with tin counters. But also his music reveals for us the city of asphalt and cement, its crowded streets, the noise of the automobiles, the rumor of the working people, the shouting of the street vendors, the silence of the public squares.

He is, undoubtedly, the most interesting artist appeared after the musical revolution generated by Piazzolla, not only because of his interpretative style but also because of the quality of his oeuvre as composer which is not extensive but possesses a high level and beauty.

His pieces “Azulnoche” and “Octubre” evidence a maturity and a sensitivity hardly found that, with the addition of Osvaldo’s talent for scoring, achieve high dimensions.

He was born in a neighborhood with taste of tango, La Paternal, the same one that saw Fresedo grow up. Since an early age he devoted himself to bandoneon. He studied first with maestro Félix Cordisco and later with Domingo Mattio. The latter was member of the Aníbal Troilo Orchestra until it disbanded. During his adolescence he joined several local outfits and at age fifteen he made his debut with the orchestra led by Ricardo Pedevilla.

The following year he joined one of the seminal line-ups of our city music, the Alfredo Gobbi Orchestra, in which he had a six-year tenure. In 1964 he switched to the Fulvio Salamanca Orchestra for a year and thereafter he put together his own orchestra.

And here another story begins, the one of a young orchestra leader who wants to show only a material legitimately derived from his musical compromise without concessions.

The brand-new orchestra made its debut on Radio Belgrano with Carlos Nogués on vocals, who soon later switched to Héctor Varela’s orchestra to substitute for Argentino Ledesma.

He was invited to appear at the Tango Festival of La Falda, in the province of Córdoba, and he himself told us: «The organisers of the festival were interested in the young age of the members of my orchestra which was almost totally lined up by kids. They needed a group of that kind to open the show because nobody wanted to be the first since all the great figures used to go there. But that orchestra that opened the show on stage finally was acclaimed and awarded».

The year 1965, was crowned with his first record for the Alanicki label: a long playing record whose cover showed a liner note by Aníbal Troilo, his mentor. From this material the standouts are: “Disonante” by Julián Plaza and “Enamorado estoy” by Oscar Zito and lyrics by José Márquez, with Carlos Casado on vocals.

It would be hard to detail all his stints on television and at the different venues where he performed at that time. But we highlight only his appearance at the TV program led by the Peruvian Hugo Guerrero Marthineitz, Séptima Noche aired by Channel 7. It was followed by thousands of watchers.

In 1968 he was awarded the Palma de Oro at the Festival de La Falda and also the prize Martín Fierro granted to the musical revelation of the year in the Argentine television by the guild of journalists. That same year he recorded two long-playing records for the record company Philips. In the first one are, among others, Pascual Mamone’s tango “Negroide”, Alfredo Gobbi’s “Camandulaje” and “Será una noche”, that beautiful piece written by José Tinelli and Manuel Ferradás Campos, with Alberto Hidalgo on vocals. In the other, his great creation “Azulnoche” and Astor Piazzolla’s “Adiós Nonino”.

He appeared to an impressive acclaim on the stage of the local Magoya, in the city of Mar del Plata, also accompanying, his brand-new wife, the singer Susana Rinaldi, with his quintet. This success would happen again in successive summer seasons at the same place where as well artists of the level of Edmundo Rivero, Aníbal Arias and Osvaldo Avena, among others, performed.

Between the late 70s and the early 80s his stints at the El Viejo Almacén, Caño 14, Michelangelo, on TV channels and radio stations are very frequent.

In 1984, he traveled to France where he performed at the Festival of Arles in Toulouse and at the today legendary Trottoirs de Buenos Aires in Paris. During his exile in Europe he toured the continent, playing in Belgium, Holland, Finland, Sweden, Italy and Switzerland.

He returned in 1988 and opened his own local San Telmo Tango, where he premiered his group Ensamble 9 with which he recorded a compact disc for the Melopea label titled Romance de Abril. Julián Plaza, in his tango piece "Sentimental Buenos Aires" and Eladia Blázquez, who sang two numbers composed by her and Piro, were guest artists. The record contains a new rendition of his successful "Octubre" that he had already recorded twice before: the first time in 1978 with his orchestra for Victor, the second time in France with his quintet, for the company Attack.

In 1994, this great artist was appointed staff conductor of the Orquesta Nacional de Música Argentina Juan de Dios Filiberto, honored as Ciudadano Ilustre de Buenos Aires in 1996 and in 1999 was awarded by his peers with the prize Mejor Intérprete (Best Interpreter) of the Society of Authors and Composers.

In 1998, he made two important performances accompanying the Argentine president in official visits: the first was in Paris where he played at the amphitheatre of La Sorbonne and the other, in Japan, at the Nakario Sun Plaza Hall of Tokyo.

During the government of president De la Rúa his task as conductor of the Orquesta Nacional de Música Argentina was not renewed because of his political involvement.

The author of this portrait is proud of being a friend of this great Argentine artist, whom he deeply admires because of his talent. He shares with him the ethics and aesthetics of music as well as the ideological strong beliefs that derive from a profound active compromise.