Abel Palermo

orn in Luján de Cuyo, province of Mendoza, son of Alberto Serpa and María Chini, he was attracted to music since he was a child. His parents, after they discovered his inclination, made him study at a conservatory.

After an elementary training in guitar he joined several folk groups that played the repertory of the Cuyo region. He grew musically with them.

Someone recommended him to listen to the famous singer and composer of Mendoza, Alfredo Pelaia. Pelaia had a duo with Ítalo Goyeche, but the latter had recently split with him. A few months later, in 1936, he made his debut in Buenos Aires forming the Pelaia-Serpa duo when he was only 17.

In 1937 they recorded the famous Pelaia’s piece “Claveles mendocinos” for RCA-Victor (as well recorded by Gardel-Razzano in 1924 and by Gardel alone in 1929) and on the other side of the record the tango piece “Niebla del Riachuelo”, in which Serpa is featured as soloist. He following year they recorded the zamba "Por el camino" (by Carlos Geroni Flores and Benjamín Tagle Lara) and the tango piece "Justicia criolla" (by Rafael Iriarte and Francisco Brancatti) showcasing Serpa.

In 1939 they were hired by Radio Belgrano and continued performing to much acclaim until 1940 when Pelaia got ill and the duo came to an end.

Since then he began to appear as soloist, definitively devoted to the tango repertoire, on Radio Argentina.

The evolution in his singing is notable, with great technique, musicality and a smooth and very expressive phrasing, like most of the singers from the region of Cuyo.

In 1942 maestro Osvaldo Fresedo summoned Serpa, whom he had already heard singing, because the great vocalist Ricardo Ruiz had split with him. He made his debut on record with the Fresedo’s and José María Contursi’s number "Si de mí te has olvidado” and with a classic: “Mi noche triste” on the other side.

That year one of the most important cycles in the history of tango on radio began: "Ronda de ases". The Fresedo Orchestra is one of the main attractions of the program.

Homero Manzi wrote lyrics about the name of the radio show and Fresedo composed its music. This number was immediately recorded with Oscar Serpa on vocals and it turned out a hit.

Serpa recorded 59 pieces since then up to the time he left in 1947. Among his renderings the following stand out: “Te llama mi violín”, “Por qué”, "Naná”, “Corazón no le digas a nadie”, “Maleza”,”Vida mía”, “Noches largas” and the tango piece written by Discépolo and Mores “Sin palabras”.

When he split with Fresedo, he was called by maestro Carlos Di Sarli and recorded on June 2, 1948 the tango written by José Ranieri and Elías Randal with lyrics by Horacio Sanguinetti: “La novia del mar”. The latter and the instrumental “Los 33 orientales” would be the last recording in this stage of Di Sarli, who for personal reasons dismembered his orchestra.

Serpa switched to the Horacio Salgán Orchestra to appear along the other vocalist Ángel Díaz. Unfortunately, during his two-year tenure (1949-1950) the orchestra led by Salgán made no recordings.

As of mid- 1950 he was invited to record with maestro Ricardo Pedevilla. They cut the tango pieces “Precio”, “Y mientes todavía” and “Ventanita de arrabal”. I think these recordings are the best made by Serpa.

In 1951 Carlos Di Sarli resumed his activity and called him again. This time his vocalist partner was Mario Pomar (formerly Mario Corrales).

Di Sarli’s return to record took place in 1952 in a new label: Music Hall, after eight uninterrupted years in RCA-Victor. These recordings were cut on the new vinyl discs at the speed of 33-rpm, with two pieces on each side. The singer recorded three numbers: the waltzes “Un momento” and “Sueño de juventud” and the tango "Cuatro vidas”.

His tenure with Di Sarli lasted until 1955, when due to labor reasons, either the players of the orchestra and the vocalists, split with him. The last recording was "Verdemar" cut on September 16, 1955, at a time when the nation was shocked by the coup that ousted the constitutional government led by General Perón.

After he split with Di Sarli, the members of that orchestra together with Serpa and Pomar formed "Los Señores Del Tango". Their debut was on February 3, 1956 on Radio Belgrano and they appeared at the Richmond tearoom on Suipacha Street and at the Dominó "dancing". They recorded for Music Hall and RCA-Victor.

The scarcity of stints and the appearance of new foreign rhythms caused a decline in the activity of the orchestra.

Serpa continued for some years more as soloist until the late 70s when he withdrew definitively from show-business.

Unfortunately on November 8, 1982, when he was 62, he was run over by a car in the city of Mar del Plata. So a gentleman in tango and a gentleman in every aspect of life passed away.