Abel Palermo

his remarkable musician, son of Hugo Ricardo Baralis —that excellent double-bassist that started with Eduardo Arolas—, was an exquisite violinist, with roots in the school of Elvino Vardaro and, also, owner of a sound with deep tango roots and a singular phrasing.

At age 14 he made his debut on Radio Culture and in the orchestra led by Minotto Di Cicco that performed in the legendary cabaret Armenonville.

After playing in different groups that accompanied female and male singers, he joined the native orchestra led by the bandoneonist and composer Rafael Rossi. His partners were the musicians: Elvino Vardaro, Vicente Spina, Ismael Gómez, José Galarza and the female singer Herminia Velich.

In 1933 a very important event took place in tango, the great violinist Elvino Vardaro put together his famous sextet. It was comprised by the bandoneonists Aníbal Troilo and Jorge Argentino Fernández, José Pascual on piano, Pedro Caracciolo in double bass and on violins, the leader himself and the young Baralis.

In 1935 most of its members: Pichuco, Baralis, Fernández and Caracciolo switched to Ángel D'Agostino's aggregation. The singer was a kid: Alberto Echagüe.

Two years later, after a brief tenure in the orchestra led by the bandoneonist César Ginzo, Baralis returned to Elvino Vardaro.

The following year his friend Troilo, who had already put together his own orchestra, summoned him to join it. This association not only identified him with the same musical sensitivity, but also with the codes of life and the bohemian spirit so special of that generation.

This tenure lasted until August 1943. The breaking up was due to an argument between Troilo and Orlando Goñi because of the pianist's lack of discipline concerning the job. Unfortunately, the evening of the determination of the dismissal, Baralis had also been absent, therefore, the leader sent the discharge telegrams to them both. Notwithstanding this, their friendship lasted until Troilo's death.

After this episode he was summoned by Juan Carlos Cobián to join his orchestra. It was a very short tenure because his friend Francisco Fiorentino, who had also split with Troilo, offered him the leadership of the orchestra but Hugo decided to pass the baton to Astor Piazzolla and he remained as lead violin.

Later that group became the first orchestra led by Astor, when Fiorentino decided to take other roads and left it. Baralis continued there, up to 1951, except for a brief tenure with Francisco Rotundo.

That year he conducted the Alberto Marino's orchestra, and made his debut with Odeon records on May 21, recording the tangos: “Margot” on one side and, on the other side: “Domani”, written by Cátulo Castillo and Carlos Viván.

The team Baralis-Marino lasted one year, but before dismembering, they cut four numbers more, among them, Marino's most popular success as soloist, “Venganza”, a Brazilian song composed and written by Lupicínio Rodrigues, tranlated to spanish by the remarkable writer Augusto Roa Bastos. The other three were: “Mi vieja viola”, “Noche de luna” and “Viejo cochero”.

In 1953 he made his debut on Radio Belgrano conducting his own orchestra. The following year he was invited by Juan Canaro to participate on his tour of Japan, along with other musicians of high level, among them: Arturo Penón, Emilio González, Alfredo Marcucci, Osvaldo Tarantino and the singers María De La Fuente and Héctor Insúa. On his comeback he composed the tango “Anone”, which in Japanese means: listen.

In 1955 he was founding member of the Piazzolla's historical Octeto Buenos Aires which was completed by Enrique Francini, Atilio Stampone, Leopoldo Federico, Horacio Malvicino, José Bragato and Juan Vasallo.

Between 1956 and 1957 he was the lead violin of José Basso's orchestra and, between 1960 and 1961, he joined The Estrellas de Buenos Aires quartet, alongside Armando Cupo, Jorge Caldara and Quicho Díaz, sometimes replaced, by José Alegre, and with the vocalists Marga Fontana and Héctor Ortiz.

The contribution of Baralis has been great, besides all what was said, it is necessary to add his tenure with Julio De Caro, with Carlos García, with whom he also traveled to Japan, with the Sexteto Mayor, with Raúl Garello and his last work, for many years, in the Orquesta del Tango de Buenos Aires.

Finally I want to highlight Hugo's importance in the career of Astor Piazzolla. It was him who made him join the Aníbal Troilo Orchestra; who, declining the leadership, offered Astor to conduct Fiorentino's orchestra; he was the one who joined and contributed, in every sense, in his early aggregations, in the Noneto, in the Octeto Buenos Aires, in the Operita María de Buenos Aires. That is to say, in the whole idea musically new of the maestro. But mainly, I want to stand out the admiration and the affection that he had for the composer of “Adiós Nonino”.

I had the privilege of knowing Hugo and of building a pretty friendship, since 1990, when he was already retired from the professional field of music because of a stroke. I remember that not to be able to be with his friend El Gato (The Cat) tormented him, as he used to call Piazzolla, furthermore because he was unable to bid him adieu. His anecdotes, his stories allowed me not only to enhance my knowledge, but also to research and to learn about the soul of those tango greats.