Néstor Pinsón

e was born in the beautiful Venice and has been regarded as the best second violin in the history of tango. In this respect Luis Adolfo Sierra wrote pondering this virtue: «Those who ignore the meaning of the instrumental terms could guess that a second violin is less than a lead violin. But it's not this way. The second always has required a capacity different to the lead which plays, in general, the singing line. Because there is even, a natural tendency to act as second —especially in tango orchestras— because of its facility in building counter melodies and second lines to duet with the lead.»

And he continues saying: «That is to say that there are naturally born second violinists, with more possibilities of showcasing their interpretations than those promoted to lead violin. And there are lead violinists that if they were to play second fiddle they would not carry out their role correctly».

And he finishes by remarking: «Francia is, undoubtedly, the case of a second violin, maybe unsurpassed in the tango milieu for his unquestionable talent in the creation of impeccable counter melodies, in general improvised at the time of a recording which stand out for the brightness of their sound and the inspired originality of the melodic drawings».

In an interesting interview carried out by the journalist Norberto Chab, in 1979, Manlio tells us about his training and career: «My father was a violinist and he had his orchestra that during the summer months, in France, played along the Côte Azure: Nice, Biarritz, Montecarlo. My birthday present when I was five years old was a violin. Before 1910 my father had an offer to travel to Argentina to appear at the Hotel Bristol of Mar del Plata where the most prominent names of the Buenos Aires society used to meet during the summer season. My dad and the whole family traveled. I had to interrupt my music studies with maestro Isaac Isaiye.

«When the day of the debut came nobody had imagined that it was also the beginning of the farewell. A girl that sang and danced had accompanied us to improve some musical numbers but the prudishness of the ladies present didn't bear it. The gentlemen, of course, enjoyed it. When the female attraction was removed they liked the show, but soon we returned to France. But every summer we returned to Mar del Plata. In total we traveled seven times. The last time we sailed from the port of Marseilles and during the voyage we found out that World War I had begun. For that reason we stayed in this country.

«In Buenos Aires I continued the music studies in the Instituto Santa Cecilia, with its director, maestro Galvani. I graduated in 1918, and among my partners were the Bolognini brothers, Astor Bolognini, Ennio Bolognini and Remo Bolognini, also Eduardo Armani and others that had a good career. My first appearances were at parties and at salons, where they always invited me to play excerpts of classical music.

«Until I came across the Café La Armonía on 1443 Corrientes Street where the patrons requested tango pieces which were taboo music for some elegant places where I had played before. I was making friends and I arrived at the Maipú Pigalle where I played along with Osvaldo Fresedo and Enrique Delfino. Later I was member of the Cuarteto de Maestros with Juan Carlos Cobián, Julio De Caro and Roque Biafore. Thereafter, again with Fresedo and also with Cobián at the Abdulla Club and with the Gordon Stretton's jazz group. I already liked jazz, later I played gigs with Eleuterio Iribarren.

«In 1925 I joined Adolfo Carabelli's orchestra and also, at the same time, I formed a group with Francisco Pracánico to perform at the restaurant Conte of Mar del Plata. When Pracánico retired, I became the leader. That was my only experience as orchestra leader. Never again I wanted that responsibility because it brought to me a series of problems. Then the other violinist was Larrosa, Sinibaldi was on double bass and the bandoneon players were Grupillo and one of the Scarpino brothers.

«Only with Delfino, we recorded a disc for Odeon. It was the tango “Porotita” and a fox trot. I had a tenure in the Fresedo's orchestra which recorded several of my compositions. I joined a quintet with Petrucelli where I behaved like a lunatic, I played the banjo and sang, I liked to imitate Al Jolson. I recorded with the Carabelli jazz band and with De Caro. With the latter I had a twenty-year tenure, all that was recorded for Brunswick and Victor. I played second violin and also played the fool. Julio liked some jokes. When in the middle of an instrumental a voice appeared, it was me. For example in “El buey solo”, I am the one that exclaims «huella, huella, buey» (giddap, giddap, ox) or in “El monito”, «monito querés café» (little monkey, want some coffee?). Another guy who did something similar was Leopoldo Thompson.

«In the Victor company I played in all the groups, we were like a mafia, we didn't allow anybody to join us. We worked so well as a team that knowing how the musical structure of a piece was, we read it once and we immediately recorded it.

«I was member, for long years, of the staff orchestra of Radio El Mundo and from 1945 to 1950 I joined the Carlos Di Sarli's orchestra. A style so different to De Caro's, but unbeatable. He was a good musician and very demanding. All this without giving up jazz nor classical music. And exactly on June 20, 1978 I quit music».

We add that he also joined the aggregations led by Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores, Dajos Bela, Emilio Orlando and Ciriaco Ortiz.

As composer he didn't stand out, in his output there are no remarkable titles. In spite of it, several of them were committed to record.

By way of example, we highlight: “Sangre azul” (1922), “Fuego lento”, “Maco”, “Luis María”, “Qué racha”, “Ramas de sauce”, “Sol y sombra”, “Queja campera” (1923), “Maldita visión” that Carlos Gardel recorded (1925), “Helena”, “Toda para mí” (1926), “Fantasías”, “Pasionaria” (1927), “Nochero” (1930), “Dame un besito” (1931).