Abel Palermo

his forgotten artist was an outstanding musician and bandoneonist, required by the first level orchestras of very different styles, not only as instrumentalist, but also as orchestra leader and arranger. He possessed the virtue of a wide musical conception which allowed him to be featured with extremes so opposing as Pugliese and D'Arienzo and, of course, with his own aggregation.

He was born in the neighborhood of Villa Crespo in the city of Buenos Aires. His early stints were as from 1935, when he joined a bandoneon trio along with Manuel Daponte and Luis Bonnat, until he was summoned by the pianist Osvaldo Pugliese to join his brand-new orchestra.

The debut was on August 11, 1939, at the historical café El Nacional, on Corrientes Street. The members of that first outfit were: Osvaldo Pugliese (piano and leadership), Enrique Alessio, Osvaldo Ruggiero and Alberto Armengol (bandoneons), Enrique Camerano, Julio Carrasco and Jaime Tursky (violins), Aniceto Rossi (double bass) and Amadeo Mandarino (vocals).

Enrique stayed alongside don Osvaldo until the late 1944. We can appreciate them in the recordings of 1943-1944. The decarian style of the orchestra is highlighted in the numbers “Mala junta”, “Recuerdo”, “El rodeo”, “El remate”, “Amurado”, “Tierra querida” and “Mala pinta”. It is worth mentioning, at this stage of Pugliese’s career, the tight ensemble precision of the bandoneon section, with the unsurpassable work in the string section of Camerano and Rossi.

In 1943 the bandoneonists Esteban Gilardi and Oscar Castagniaro and the violinist Oscar Herrero were included.

Alessio split with Pugliese when the successful singer Alberto Castillo required him to replace the violinist Emilio Balcarce as arranger and conductor of his orchestra. The aggregation was lined up as follows: Enrique Alessio (arranger and leader), Ángel Condercuri , Luciano Leocata and Antonio Scelza (bandoneons), Armando Ziela, Alzidio Fernández, Frederik, Potenza (violins), Francisco De Lorenzo (double bass) and the excellent Uruguayan musician César Zagnoli (piano).

In 1948 a similar episode took place again, but this time with the orchestra that backed the singer Alberto Marino. When Emilio Balcarce split with it Alessio was summoned to lead it. His tenure in the orchestra resulted in a recording: the tango “Mano cruel”.

By the end of the year, the board members of Odeon, who already knew his talent as musician through his tenure in the above mentioned orchestras, decided to give him an opportunity to record as leader of his own orchestra. So he cut four numbers, in 1949, the instrumentals “Tiny”, composed by Pedro Maffia, Alberto Pugliese’s “El remate”, Alejandro Junnissi’s “El recodo” and, with Mario Delía on vocals, “Mi Buenos Aires querido”.

The following year an important event in Juan D'Arienzo’s orchestra happened. The lead bandoneon and arranger, Héctor Varela, quit to start his successful stage as leader of his own outfit. With him also left the bandoneonist Alberto San Miguel and the singer Armando Laborde.

After a suggestion of the bandoneonist Carlos Lazzari, D'Arienzo persuaded Enrique to join his orchestra as lead bandoneon and arranger. Then it was lined up with: Enrique Alessio, Carlos Lazzari, Aldo Junnissi and Felipe Ricciardi (bandoneons), Cayetano Puglisi, Blas Pensato, Jaime Ferrer and Clemente Arnaiz (violins), Virgilio Victorio (double bass) and Fulvio Salamanca (piano).

The debut on disc came with his piece: “Un tango para mi vieja”, with Alberto Echagüe on vocals. The other singer in the orchestra was Roberto Lemos who had replaced Armando Laborde.

He had a seven-year tenure with D'Arienzo. He left because of an important contract again offered by Odeon to reunite his orchestra. His vocalists were Hugo Soler, who had passed through the ranks of the orchestras led by Alfredo Gobbi and Joaquín Do Reyes, and the notable José Berón, brother of Raúl, Elba, Rosa and Adolfo.

Alessio recorded, with the vocalist Soler: the tango "Ríe payaso"; with José Berón: "Milonguita", "Por las calles del tango", "Y no pediste perdón" and the instrumentals "La cumparsita" and "Catamarca".

For three years his appearances on Radio El Mundo, dancehalls, cabarets and tearooms were to great acclaim.

Lastly, I want to highlight his oeuvre as composer, after his first hit with Alberto Castillo, the tango "Se lustra señor". Also he wrote: "Cantemos corazón" (recorded by Libertad Lamarque and Carlos Di Sarli), "Mi amor y tu amor", "Te odio y te quiero", "Pero te seguiré queriendo", "De corazón a corazón", "Papá", "Un vals para mamá", the instrumentals "Bien porteña" and "Julie". The latter was recorded by Osvaldo Pugliese in 1959.

In October 1999, the Concejo Deliberante de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, awarded him the prize Mérito Ciudadano in recognition for his worthy and long career in popular music. He died in Mar del Plata, a seaside city where he had little before moved to.