Juan Cambareri

Real name: Cambariere, Juan
Nicknames: El Mago del Bandoneón
Bandoneonist, leader and composer
(15 April 1916 - 18 February 1992)
Place of birth:
Viedma (Río Negro) Argentina
Abel Palermo

e was born in the city of Viedma, capital of the province of Río Negro. In the early twenties his family moved to the Federal Capital and settled down in the neighborhood of Balvanera.

Soon thereafter, his father took him to study bandoneon with a teacher in the area of the Spinetto Market. At age ten he entered a conservatory and he achieved such a virtuosity and perfection that, with the passing of time and by way of recognition, he was known as The magician of the bandoneon.

Only 6 years later, in full adolescence, he was required by maestro Roberto Firpo to join his orchestra, alongside the young pianist Carlos García.

His musical capacity and his adaptation to the demands of Firpo allowed him to climb quickly in the leader's consideration and, the following year, when the latter in 1936, put together his quartet called Los de Antes, the leader invited him to join it. It was not an aggregation more, it was the most important quartet in the history of tango, either in permanency as in popularity.

Starting with the quartet, Cambareri would acquire a musical style in which his dexterity and his peculiar rhythmic sense stood out. He was the backbone of the group during the 14 years he stayed alongside the leader.

He was also summoned by Jaime Yankelevich —owner and general director of Radio Belgrano—, to appear with his own quartet in the most popular program of Argentina and of several neighboring countries, La audición de Jabón Federal which was aired on Thursdays at 9 pm and on Sundays from 12:30 am to 2 pm.

The remarkable thing was that he appeared on this cycle for 18 years, along with a cast of big stars like Alberto Castillo, Pedro Maffia, Hugo Del Carril, Antonio Tormo, the Spanish singers Angelillo and Miguel de Molina, the Italian tenor Carlo Buti, and the Italo-American singer Nicola Paone, among others.

At the same time, he was frequently required, by show-business impresarios to appear at important balls and venues, not only in our country, but also abroad. In Uruguay he used to stay for long seasons, traveling to Buenos Aires, only to perform in the program of Radio Belgrano.

His successful quartet was lined up by José Fernández on violin, Fernando Porcelli on double bass, Juan Rizzo on piano and Americo Podestá on vocals, who was later replaced by Alberto Casares.

In 1948, once again in Uruguay, he was summoned by the Sondor label for which he cut his first recordings: Pintín Castellanos' “La puñalada” and Roberto Firpo's “El amanecer”. Two years later he recorded in Argentina for the Pampa label —branch of the Odeon company— in which he remained until 1955. His early recordings were Ángel Villoldo's “El choclo” and the Francisco Canaro's waltz “Corazón de oro”.

In 1955 he conducted the staff orchestra of the radio station, continued with the Jabón Federal programs and with his recordings for Pampa, until he, as all tango artists, began to undergo the advance of the so-called «new musical wave». The singer Alberto Casares had already quit and his place was occupied, until the end, by the vocalist Héctor Berardi. Besides Radio Belgrano he also appeared on other radio stations.

In 1968 he re-appeared in some Music-Hall reissues and, the following year, they hired him to carry out an extensive and successful tour of Japan. The quartet was comprised of Juan Rizzo on piano, Juan Gandolfo and Felipe Escomabache on violins and, of course, Cambareri on bandoneon.

In 1971 he was featured in the television program El tango del millón and he continued, for some years, with extensive tours throughout Uruguay and Brazil.

In 1981 Music-Hall published a cassette entitled Tangos compadres with the instrumentals “A su memoria”, “Bien de arrabal”, “Color de rosa”, Lluvia de estrellas”, “Papas calientes” and “Para siempre este tango” (a composition of his own), among others. The singer Héctor Berardi is featured in some numbers.

In this, his last recorded work, he demonstrates all his experience, capacity and virtuosity, which is evidenced, simply, by listening to Osmar Maderna's classic, “Lluvia de estrellas”.