Ricardo García Blaya

his eminent bandoneon player is, no doubt, one of the great arrangers of our Buenos Aires music. Required by maestros of the level of Osvaldo Pugliese and Alfredo Gobbi, he achieved an outstanding prestige in the difficult art of embellishing melodies.

Always having a respect for the essence of each piece, such as it was devised by the composer, Mamone writes his arrangements and orchestrations with balance and detailed devotion, having specially in mind the style of the target orchestra and the distinguishing features of the singer.

I have a vivid recollection of a recital by María Volonté, at the Café Tortoni. I went there with my friends Bruno Cespi, Héctor Lucci, Oscar Himschoot and Néstor Pinsón, —we had been invited by Juan Francisco Saénz Valiente. On that occasion the accompaniment of the quartet led and arranged by El Cholo set the ideal mood for the showcasing of this suggesting female singer.

Once he told us that he was a kid when he fell for tango and the bandoneon and that his early studies were at an academy in his neighborhood where he learned theory and sight-reading.

In 1936, with more will than knowledge, he joined the orchestra led by José Otero, an unimportant aggregation that used to play in the neighborhoods. But, three years later, he succeeded in acquainting his idol, Pedro Maffia, who agreed to teach him and polish him. His notable growth with the instrument encouraged his teacher who, in 1942, invited the latter to join his orchestra.

In 1944, after he split with Maffia, he began his career as arranger and he stood out in his works for Pugliese, —since 1949 and for fifteen years—; for Roberto Caló, for whom he also on some occasion joined the bandoneon section; for Alfredo Gobbi, José Basso, Enrique Francini and Pedro Laurenz, among others, in the 50s.

As well he played and wrote the charts for the Florindo Sassone Orchestra in the late 40s and, soon thereafter, for Joaquín Do Reyes, for his appearances on Radio El Mundo and at venues in the interior of the country.

In 1954, he joined the Alberto Morán’s orchestra, in a twofold role, as lead bandoneon player and arranger. The aggregation was conducted by the pianist Armando Cupo. Ten years later he likewise joined the group accompanying Miguel Montero, but those were difficult years for tango and he decided not to play any more, he took up other jobs, but kept on arranging for important musicians like Atilio Stampone and Leopoldo Federico.

The decline of the genre was quite noticeable after 1960. Because of that musicians looked after alternative expressions. Some were more cultural than commercial, others, were quite the opposite. Among the first was the Cuarteto de Cámara del Tango (Tango Chamber Quartet), an idea of the violinist Leo Lipesker who commissioned the arrangements to Mamone. The group was lined up by: Lipesker and Hugo Baralis (violins), Mario Lalli (viola) and José Bragato (cello). They released two long-playing records, the first for the Odeon company in 1961 and the other for Microfón in 1965. It was a valid attempt of tango resistance, but it was not enough to palliate the transculturation that had taken place favoring other genres.

When he returned to his activity as player, in 1974, he led again the Montero’s orchestra and recorded a long-playing disc.

Many singers required his craft, among them let us remember: Rodolfo Lesica, Juan Carlos Cobos, Reynaldo Martín, Ricardo Pereyra, Francisco Llanos and, among the female singers: Norma Ferrer, Choly Cordero, Silvana Gregori, Patricia Lasala and María Volonté.

In the latter years of the twentieth century he was in full activity, fronting small outfits, accompanying and recording with different vocalists, also as conductor of the Orquesta Municipal del Tango of the city of San Martín, province of Buenos Aires, with Choly Cordero and Luis Linares on vocals.

In his oeuvre as composer, his greatest hits were: the milonga "Cuando era mía mi vieja" that Julio Sosa made a smash hit. Other interesting titles are: Te quiero más" with Abel Aznar; "Al latir de Buenos Aires" with Norberto Rizzi; "Noche de duendes", "Hay lugar" and "Platea" with Haidé Daiban, and the instrumentals "Negroide", "Con lirismo" and "Vislumbrando".