Abel Palermo

e was born on 284 Alberti Street in the city of Buenos Aires. Son of José Caló and Natalicia Pantano. His brothers were musicians as well, Miguel, Juan, Salvador, Antonio and Armando. Roberto was the third one.

Since early age he studied piano and singing, and in his teens he made his debut as chansonnier (crooner) in the orchestra that his brother Juan led and appeared on Radio La Nación.

He started as a soloist singer in 1933, on Radio Stentor, and later switched to Radio Prieto and Radio París. In 1935 he was hired by Don Jaime Jankelevich to perform, for three years, first on Radio Porteña, later on Mitre and lastly on the most prestigious radio station of the period, LR3 Radio Belgrano.

In the late 1938, as vocalist, he joined the orchestra that his brother Miguel led –the latter already was an important figure in tango- in which his other brother Armando on contrabass also was. On December 21, 1938 they recorded the tango “Dulce amargura” and the foxtrot “Luces del puerto”. Roberto replaced the vocalist Alberto Morel.

In 1941, together with brother Juan who was bandoneon player too, he put together the team Juan and Roberto Caló which was dismembered one year later. By then Roberto formed an outfit to appear in the United States and at different Latin American countries. On his comeback, in 1945, he definitively quit singing to become an orchestra leader, and made his debut on LR4 Radio Splendid.

In April 1946, he swapped to Radio Belgrano and included in his team as vocalists two consecrated figures that had split with the Ricardo Tanturi and Francisco Canaro Orchestras, respectively: Enrique Campos and Carlos Roldán. Their tenure was brief. In 1947, with his new vocalist Hugo del Cerro, he toured the interior of the country and Uruguay.

In Buenos Aires he appeared at the Dancing Empire on Corrientes near the corner of Esmeralda. The arranger of the orchestra was the excellent pianist Julio Medovoy.

In the late 1948, the singers Oscar Larroca and Roberto Ray joined them and performed on Radio Belgrano. Soon later Ray joined Osvaldo Fresedo again. The following year the orchestra switched to Radio Splendid with the vocalists Larroca and Alberto Santillán.

In 1951, he recorded for the first time, for the Orfeo label. The numbers were the tango “El metejón” sung by Larroca and the instrumental “Selección de Aníbal Troilo” arranged by Medovoy . Soon thereafter the latter vocalist joined the Alfredo De Angelis Orchestra, to substitute for Julio Martel and was replaced by Carlos Rivera. The latter recorded the famous tango “Zorro gris”.

In 1952, Carlos Roldán returned for a short time and cut three memorable recordings: the Francisco Martino’s milonga “Soy una fiera”, Velich’s “Cualquier cosa” and Enrique Discépolo’s “Victoria”. Late that year Alberto Santillán joined them, former vocalist in the Víctor D’Amario Orchestra and recorded “Nostalgias”, the tango “Después que te perdí” written by Caló himself and Horacio Sanguinetti, and the waltz “Manos adoradas”.

In 1953, the recording company Orfeo invited the extraordinary female singer Azucena Maizani to the recording studios again, after a break of eleven years. The backing orchestra was Roberto Caló’s.

That year Enrique Campos returned and recorded several numbers as well, among them I highlight two: “Con la otra” and “Canzoneta”. They appeared on Radio Splendid, at the tearoom El Marzotto, and at the carnival parties at the Les Ambassadeurs dancehall on Figueroa Alcorta Avenue.

In 1956, an important event took place, Roberto Rufino joined the orchestra. The singer returned after a long inactivity. Immediately they signed with RCA Victor and they cut a record with the tangos "Ladrillo" by Juan de Dios Filiberto and Juan Caruso, on one side, and on the other, what would become the boom of that year and the following one: "Soñemos" written by Roberto Caló and Reynaldo Yiso. Their success opened for them the Radio El Mundo doors and two of the most important cabarets of the period hired them: el Marabú on Maipú and the Chanteclair on Paraná and Corrientes. But the unstable spirit of Rufino forced them to dismember the team.

For that reason and work demands, especially the carnival balls in 1957, he hurried in the inclusion of the singers Héctor De Rosas and Rodolfo Galé. Soon later he added Tito Reyes, the third vocalist of the orchestra.

By that time, Roberto's orchestra was more popular thatn his brother Miguel's and appeared to much acclaim at the Richmond tearoom on Esmeralda. Among the recordings of that period we have the duets by Galé and De Rosas: "Si vos no me querés", "Limosna de amor" and "Luna Tucumana". As well we find the early recordings made by Tito Reyes: "Frente al espejo", "Nápoles de mi amor" and "Tango argentino".

In the late 1957, he accompanied the female vocalist Aída Denis when she reappeared to record for RCA-Victor. In December the pianist Osvaldo Berlingieri split with him to join Troilo. His place was taken by the notable pianista and arranger Osvaldo Tarantino. In the mid- 1958 Galé quit.

Those were difficult times for tango due to the scarcity of jobs. The Nueva Ola (New Wave) invaded radio stations and recording studios so Caló decided then to dismember his orchestra. A great number of his musicians together with the singer Tito Reyes switched to the orchestra led by his brother Miguel. Roberto began to devote himself to show business management.

As actor he appeared in the movies Giacomo, Valle Negro and Los ojos más lindos del mundo.

Through the ranks of his orchestra passed musicians of the level of the pianists Julio Medovoy, Osvaldo Berlingieri and Osvaldo Tarantino; very important bandoneonists like Ernesto Franco, Edelmiro D'Amario, Pedro Vidaurre, Juan Fleuri, Eduardo Rovira, Celso Amato, Julio Paso and Eliseo Marchese. Members of the string section of great level such as the violinists Leo Lipesker, Antonio Coronello, Raúl Garcés, José Lauces, Tito Besprovan, Simón Bajour, Simón Broiman, Teodoro Guisado and José Cattanzaro or contrabass players like Enrique Designa and Enrique Marchetto.

The vocalists that passed through his ranks and recorded were many: Carlos Roldán, Enrique Campos, Oscar Larroca, Carlos Rivera, Alberto Santillán, Roberto Rufino, Héctor De Rosas, Rodolfo Galé, Tito Reyes and Jorge De la Peña. Unfortunately there were three that never recorded with him: Jorge Maciel, Raúl Lavalle and Carlos Barbé.

Lastly, as composer, Roberto Caló gave us: "Soñemos", "Después te perdí", "Te vi llegar", "No culpes al amor" and the instrumentals "Colores", "En fa menor" and "Flauteando".