Luis Cardei

Real name: Cardei, Luis
(3 July 1944 - 18 June 2000)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Ricardo García Blaya

he resurrection of the forties, the nostalgia of a time of unbeatable singers and the happiness of recovering the memory of those times of the unbeaten tango, all that was Luis Cardei. A piece of a singer, an enormous human being.

To listen to his voice, deep and small, transports us to the Buenos Aires of the patios with wisterias, of the hiss of the old streetcar, of the downtown bohemia, of the revues at the Maipo and El Nacional, of the first tickets in the horse race track and of so many other things.

He was an intimate singer, with a Buenos Aires delicate phrasing that generated a touching mood with his mezza voce slowly breaking, as if it were fading.

If it were necessary to classify this boy born in the neighborhood of Villa Urquiza, we would say that he belonged to the breed of Raúl Berón, of Ángel Vargas, of Enrique Campos, of Floreal Ruiz, of the great mezza voces of our city music.

We discovered him in the mid- 90s, his simple, humble singing accompanied by his friend Antonio Pisano with his bandoneon. His artistic life was spent in the sordid nights of taverns and cheap barrooms, with his songbook of almost forgotten relics, paradoxically rescued by the exclusive scenario of the Foro Gandhi and, mainly, by that great intuitive named Cacho Vázquez, then owner of El Club del Vino.

It was 1994 when I received the invitation of Cacho and there I saw him for the first time. I remember that he needed help to go up to the stage and that he took his necessary time to begin. I was moved and I wanted to make comparisons but I was unable to. His was a familiar voice but different. As a reverie I bought his disc, published by El Club del Vino, with neither cover or information but it contained beauties like “Ventarrón”, “Viejo baldío”, and “Un momento”, among others.

He suffered from an awful illness, hemophilia, and, as if this had not been enough, when he was a kid he had poliomyelitis.

For 25 years he performed along with Pisano in the Tavern Arturito of Parque Patricios. His repertoire was in the Gardelian vein and rescued many forgotten pieces, tangos and waltzes that told simple, sometimes naïve, deeply refreshing stories.

He admired Gardel and hated tango with modern lyrics which he defined as intellectual: «Later the poet that spices tango arose, he made it intellectual and then, to feel the lyric it is necessary to think of it. I need to be moved by the plot since I play a game interpreting the character».

In his recitals he added humor and he laughed when they called him the new Goyeneche and he explained that he didn't believe in successions but, if they allowed him to ask, he wanted to be Gardel. When the audience required him the classics: “Cambalache”, “Naranjo en flor”, “Los mareados” or “La última curda”, he always answered as if apologizing, with a smile: «I don't know them». And he commented with his bandoneonist: «We will have to learn them, Antonito, because people always request us those numbers».

He appeared in Fernando Pino Solanas' movie, La nube (The cloud), premiered on September 3, 1998. That year he began an experience as owner of a tango venue at the Paseo La Plaza, on the corner of Montevideo and Sarmiento. It didn't turn out well. His last recitals were in May 2000, at the literary café Opera Prima, on 1259 Paraná Street.

His death was due to a hepatitis C infection in a routine blood transfusion and it deprived us from this honest artist who reached his moment of glory which was brief but well deserved.