Néstor Pinsón

knew personally a few years before his death, when he accepted my invitation to visit our radio program Siempre el Tango. We talked for a while about aspects of his career and he played several tangos. Among them, of course, was his composition “Alma”. What most attracted my attention was to verify what I had once read in an interview published time before. He got his first bandoneon as a gift when he was eight years old and he still kept on playing with it. I saw that the buttons (keys) were mostly heavily worn out and that when he pressed them the musical note produced was accompanied by the strike of his finger on the wooden keyboard.

After that evening we met several times and always, maybe due to reasons of age or perhaps because that was his usual behavior, he appeared silent, shy, with few words, but as if we had known each other from long since. Some time he said that he had never been capable of leading an orchestra because he was not fond of facing the problems that such a task presents.

He was born in Montevideo (Uruguay) and spent the beginning of his childhood in our country in the neighborhood of Villa Dominico. Like many tango musicians he soon started accompanying the projection of silent movies in his neighborhood: «My daddy played bandoneon by symbol notation, he didn’t read music. And my devotion was born by seeing him. Firstly I studied with a boy who lived in the area and much later, with a more serious approach, with the german Arturo Bernstein. I was so enthusiastic that I practised all day long. I was so slim that my aunts thought that my hard work would make that tuberculosis would get me. Then my mom began to feed me all the time. When I was a boy I reached 104 kilos, but one day I decide to reduce and so I finally weighed 64 kilos».

He went to Radio Nacional (later Belgrano) accompanied by his father. All the artists played for free, but they had supper on the radio station. Charlo, Rosita Quiroga and other artists that later were famous were there. The directors of the radio station decided to put together a staff trio and chose Armando Baliotti (piano), Fausto Frontera (violin) and Scorticati (bandoneon): «Then we were already hired and we got some bucks».

By that time he joined the quartet led by the Roberto and Teodoro Guisado brothers. Later Cayetano Puglisi introduced him to Roberto Firpo and with the latter he was two years playing at the Paramount cinema in the intermissions between films. «That lasted until the arrival of sound movies. And goodbye! Many became jobless».

In 1928, when he was only sixteen, he became the lead bandoneon in the octet led by Cayetano Puglisi, in his section played Pascual Storti and Horacio Gollino; on violins Puglisi, Octavio Scaglione and Mauricio Mise; on piano Alberto Cosenza and José Puglisi on string bass. The refrain singers were Pedro Lauga and Fernando Díaz. Later it became a sextet and the vocalist was Roberto Díaz.

«By that time I liked the Julio De Caro Orchestra very much. With it I played sporadically, I also liked Fresedo. Then came Francisco Canaro. I joined the latter’s orchestra at four different times. I appeared in the Carlos Gardel’s short movies and played in the recording of “Madreselva” accompanying Gardel, on the same rendition that is heard in the movie Il Postino».

That same year he formed a trio with Osvaldo Pugliese (piano) and José Gallastegui (violin) to back the performances of Adhelma Falcón and Charlo.

After 1929, he organized several outfits of his own and in 1932, he put together an orchestra to appear on Radio Rivadavia when it was run by the newspaper Crítica. Later another for Radio Belgrano: «But it was hard for me, I was not born to be a leader, I was neither a business man nor a man to control his mates. At that time I had Jaime Gosis on piano, later was substituted for Héctor Stamponi, I recall Fermín Fava on string bass, along with me were Horacio Gollino and Domingo Triguero, the violinists were Víctor Braña and Víctor Felice. Among the vocalists of different periods were Lita Morales, Mecha Bazán and Mario Corrales (later renamed Mario Pomar). We appeared at the café El Germinal too. But Canaro appeared again to offer me a tour of Brazil and I dismembered everything».

He was staff musician for the Victor company and he recorded with all the orchestras of the house. He conducted the Orquesta Típica Victor from 1935 until 1941.

However he also recorded for Odeon with Juan Maglio who led the bandoneon trio in which Gabriel Clausi and Ernesto Di Cicco played. In this line-up, even though it bore Maglio's name, the latter did not appear as player: «He felt that the young players had surpassed him». They cut four pieces, the waltzes: Maglio's "Ella vive en mi memoria" and Clausi's “Lluvia de penas”; and the tangos: Maglio's “Chitita” and Clausi's “En capilla”.

In 1942, when Ernesto Famá and Francisco Amor split with Canaro they called him to conduct their orchestra because they were starting as a team. But it did not last long, they appeared on Radio Oriental of Montevideo and on Radio Splendid.

«During my tenure with Canaro, in 1940, I agreed with a strike and Canaro fired me. I was a short time with Pugliese and finally I joined Carlos Di Sarli. I was eleven years with him and I was responsible for including in a recording of “El choclo” a variation for bandoneon, regarded as very original and recognized, even though Di Sarli was not fond of bandoneon variations. That was a beautiful orchestra».

In 1949, when the orchestra was disbanded for several years, he switched to Francisco Lomuto. Later he returned to Di Sarli until the latter's death. Since then he joined Los Señores del Tango.

He was a great admirer of Pedro Maffia and Pedro Laurenz... «I always dreamed of playing like Maffia».

Oscar Zucchi, the greatest researcher of bandoneon players, said about him: «He is one of the top examples of bandoneon technique in the history of tango. He contributed a notable expressiveness, abilities that with the passing of time he was improving and seasoning. His unmistakable sound, that peculiar accent that only the greats possess spans from the amazing brilliance of sound to the suggestive tones of his clear touch when the mood of the piece so requires. His absolute knowledge of the most subtle mechanisms of the instrument are showcased in the perfect handling of the valve device that regulates the input and output of air which makes it unheard for the listener. Furthermore he possesses a fingering that is astonishing due to his speed and accuracy. It is evidenced in the runs of his beautiful variations or in the phrases of his original embellishments, whether they are trills or appoggiaturas wisely placed. He is blessed with a striking independence of both hands and is a great master in the difficult technique of legato playing».

In 1966, he settled for several years in Mar del Plata. Even though he then was devoted to other tasks he was unable to withdraw from tango and put together an outfit called Los Notables del Tango with which he recorded two tangos, both in collaboration with Juan Canaro: “Nochebuena en Tokyo” and “Bonjour París” for the Ruiseñor label.

He traveled four times to Japan, the first time he was summoned by the pianist Carlos García, the second as member of the Orquesta Símbolo Francisco Canaro, the third in 1991 again with Carlos García and the fourth in 1996 joining the Quinteto Canaro led by Antonio D'Alesandro.

Once I invited him and Clausi to my radio program radial to play duets. They considered it very seriously because they preferred to privately record a couple of numbers. The chosen pieces were Arolas's: “Alice” and “Tres y dos”. On both they merrily played with the variations created on the spot. Unfortunately neither the third nor the fourth promised piece came. The guys had an argument in a previous rehearsal and the radio season came to an end.

His oeuvre as composer was committed to record several times. Here we have some examples: “Plumitas”, with lyrics by Luis Rubistein, “Bendición” in collaboration with Pascual Storti, “Alma” and “Romance”, both with lyrics by Juan Sarcione, “Cansancio” and “Desesperanza”, both with lyrics by Manuel Meaños, “Confidencia”, with lyrics by Juan Bautista Abad Reyes, “La torcacita [b]” (ranchera), “Tango milonguero” (also known as “Tango de arrabal”), “Bandoneón de mis amores”, “Como pelea de novios” (milonga), with lyrics by Avlis, “Por quererte así”, with lyrics by Celedonio Flores, “Canto al tango”, with lyrics by Scorticati himself.