Abel Palermo

e was born in the neighborhood of San Cristóbal in the city of Buenos Aires. When he was a teenager he studied singing with maestro Eduardo Bonessi. In the early 1933 LR 10 Radio Cultura organized a contest for singers. For this event Bonessi prepared some of his students and presented them at the contest. Young Alessio turned out the winner and his award was a contract with the radio station.

Azucena Maizani heard him during one of his performances and introduced him to the art director of LR3 Radio Belgrano, Pablo Osvaldo Valle. Then he was hired to appear at the prestigious radio station accompanied by the staff guitar trio led by Pascual Avena.

In 1935 he joined Edgardo Donato, who as well had Antonio Maida, Alberto Gómez and Hugo del Carril as vocalists. Alessio made his debut on record with the tangos: “Dios lo sabe” and “Rosalinda”.

With that orchestra he appeared on the movie Picaflor singing the title tune, a tango piece that he recorded later. On June 16 he came back to the recording studios with Gardel's and Le Pera's “El día que me quieras”.

On May 25, 1936, day of the anniversary of the Revolution of May 1810, the record company RCA-Victor organized an important festival at the cinema theater Ambassador that included all the artists of the label. At the show tango music was represented by Osvaldo Fresedo with Roberto Ray on vocals, Juan D'Arienzo with Walter Cabral, Francisco Lomuto and his vocalist Jorge Omar and Edgardo Donato with Juan Alessio.

In 1937 he joined the orchestra led by Antonio Arcieri, and switched to Antonio Bonavena's the following year.

In 1939 he performed on Radio Belgrano with Gerónimo Sureda, whose pianist was Carlos Figari. From then on he began to bear the sobriquet Jorge Ortiz.

In 1940 he was called by Rodolfo Biagi to replace the singer Andrés Falgás. On June 19, 1940 he recorded the tango written by Francisco Canaro and Ivo PelayTodo te nombra”. Since then a team that for three years would become one of the most important teams of the 40s was born. The vocalist became the emblematic voice of the orchestra, featuring his personality and his expressive and melodic style.

The Odeon label succeeded in the market due to the boom achieved by the Biagi-Ortiz team. Among the most remarkable numbers, we can mention: “Humillación”, “Por un beso de amor”, “Misa de once”, “Zaraza”, “Carillón de La Merced”, “Indiferencia”, “Si de mí te has olvidado”.

He was called by Miguel Caló to fill the seat left by Raúl Berón and so he joined the former's orchestra. A few days later, on January 19, 1943 he recorded the tango by Aníbal Troilo and Homero ManziBarrio de tango” and “Pa' que seguir” by Fiorentino and Pedro Lloret and, the next day, Armando Ballioti's and Santiago Adamini's “A las siete en el café”. Possibly, his most polished rendition with Caló.

The other vocalist was the young singer from San Juan, Alberto Podestá, who split with the orchestra to join maestro Pedro Laurenz's the following month. To replace him they hired someone that time later would turn out Calo's most representative vocalist and one of the consecrated idols in Colombia and Latin America: Raúl Iriarte.

Unfortunately, Ortiz's tenure in the Caló's orchestra did not satisfy the expectations. That's the mystery of tango; it's not enough to put together an orchestra with the best instrumentalists and a vocalist of good level, it is important the blending of styles and the understanding between orchestra and singer.

The association lasted only six months. His last recording was the milonga written by Enrique Francini and Homero ExpósitoPobre negra” on June 10, 1943.

When he split with Caló, he signed a contract to appear in Brazil. Later he went to Venezuela and finally to Chile. He finished this tour in November 1944.

On January 2, 1945 he joined Biagi again, the orchestra of his great hits. On January 24, 1945 he recorded Francisco Gorrindo's and Biagi's tango “Magdala” and on the other side of the disc was “Yuyo verde” written by Homero Expósito and Domingo Federico, which became a boom.

This new tenure did not last long. The reasons for the definitive break-up of this successful team were never known.

In 1946 Jorge Ortiz reappeared at the Marzotto Tearoom located on Corrientes avenue. On that occasion he teamed up with the bandoneonist Jorge Argentino Fernández and his orchestra. Later he put together his own outfit led by a former Biagi's bandoneon player, Adolfo Grippo.

During 1947 and 1948 they appeared on Radio Splendid, dancehalls and tours throughout the country. In 1949 he started a tour of Latin America and was based in Brazil.

He returned in 1952 and cut for Pampa-Odeon records the tango “Misa de once” with the orchestra led by maestro Ricardo Pedevilla. After several performances in 1953 he withdrew from show business but came back in 1957 in Uruguay with the local orchestra led by Esteban Martínez —Pirincho—. He appeared at different shows and at the radio station Radio Carve of Montevideo.

In 1959 he traveled to Brazil again, where he was highly recognized. Ortiz's appeal in the public of Rio de Janeiro was curious. Charlo, Alberto Marino and Ortiz were the most successful tango singers in that beautiful city. Jorge had a special love for Rio where he settled definitively.

Nearing the end of his career, in 1975 he appeared in Colombia at an homage to Gardel organized by his friend Raúl Iriarte. His last appearance in Buenos Aires was in 1979 on TV Channel 11 at the program Ronda de Ases emceed by Héctor Larrea and accompanied by the Orquesta Símbolo Rodolfo Biagi, along with Hugo Duval, another important singer in Biagi's orchestra.

In 1983 he went again to Colombia where he, besides performing, recorded an LP for the Sonolux label with a local tango orchestra which featured Argentine musicians.

Jorge Ortiz died of a heart attack at age 77, but his memory is among us because of his recordings: 4 numbers with Edgardo Donato, 37 with Rodolfo Biagi, 7 with Miguel Caló, 1 with Ricardo Pedevilla and 12 recorded in Colombia.