Mancini - Between mates and tangos with Roberto Mancini
am in the coquettish neighborhood of Martínez, very close to Buenos Aires, and Roberto Mancini welcomes me at his place with the music of “El Pescante” as background.
Soon, he is completely busy with his other passion: maté. With the ability achieved in long meetings held in our country and in many other corners of the world, he holds the maté with one hand, while with the other he caresses the kettle he uses to pour water on the green illusion, in his stubborn effort of transforming the herb into a vernacular elixir
So, between mates and tangos, we begin a dialogue which Roberto made easy. Sensitive and intimate, he gladly agrees to tell me his experiences.
“I was born in Buenos Aires on September 15, 1938 on 350 Bernardo de Irigoyen Street, in the neighborhood of Monserrat, facing the obelisk.
“I’m an only son. Mom’s name was María Esther Mancini and daddy’s, Mario Brandy. My memories begin as from when I was 6, when we moved to the neighborhood of San Cristóbal, 854 Sarandi Street. The genial Fidel Pintos was my neighbor, whose son Luisito -today a physician- shared my playing games when we were children.
“Mom used to tell me that in her youth, in the neighborhood of Villa Urquiza, she studied piano at the “Weber” conservatory and Roberto Goyheneche, the composer of “Pompas”, used to visit her place. He loved to play the piano, they both played, four hands, some tango pieces. So I was discovering the magic of her music.
“At age 9 I got in touch with two big boys from the elders’ gang, who used to hang around on the corner of my street. They were Ricardo Mensa and Alfredo Sturnino, the former a fan of Juan D'Arienzo and the latter, an Aníbal Troilo fan. Every evening they went out dancing and they were frequently awarded. I was then a young kid who wanted to achieve their respect so I learned by heart tango lyrics to be qualified by them. In this way I started as amateur singer.
“Since an early age I liked acting and singing. I began to study at the theaters for children Teatro Infantil Labarden and Teatro Infantil Juancho led by Salvador del Priore. The latter was precisely Oscar del Priore’s uncle. My singing instructor was Eduardo Bonessi who also was Carlos Gardel’s teacher.
“I was in many contests and at age 14 I won at one held in Parque de los Patricios organized by “El Gitano Poco Pelo” De La Rúa. My prize was a contract on Radio Argentina, preceding a show by Aldo Campoamor, whom I carefully observed because I admired his professional capacity in front of a mike. Thereafter, at another contest held at “Tango Bar” my award was the possibility to perform in the orchestra led by Manuel Musta.
At the time Roberto stopped his narration to change the grass leaves of the maté we asked him about the memories he treasured of his tenure in the Miguel Caló Orchestra.
“The first of all is the day when Cacho Fontana announced to the Radio El Mundo’s audience the debut of a young boy of 17 in the orchestra led by maestro Miguel Caló. I was deeply touched when I sang the tango “Mariposita” written by Aieta and García Jiménez. Later came the journeys to Brazil. I recall that we started the season performing at the Jockey Club of Belho Horizonte to great acclaim. On this tour Miguel presented a 32-piece orchestra and along with them I appeared for the first time facing the cameras on Channel 13 of TV Rio. Furthermore it’s impossible to forget that with Caló I recorded my first disc and we I heard it on a Winco (a turntable for 78 rpm discs) I was strangely thrilled, it was a mix of pleasure and emotion that still today I cannot describe.
«Tempted with wonderful chances for tours and shows I quit the Caló's orchestra and I joined the aggregation led by Juan Sánchez Gorio with whom I continued appearing on Radio El Mundo. Later I joined Ricardo Pedevilla to appear at the cabaret El Avión de la Boca, with Ángel Domínguez on Radio Splendid and with the Romero-Spinelli outfit I returned to Radio Argentina. Furthermore I gigged at many venues, such as the Palacio Güemes, the Monumental of Flores, the tearoom La Armonía and many other places it would turn out long to mention.
I asked him later to tell us something about his experience in the movies.
«I had put together a folk group which I called "Los Bonaerenses", lined up mainly by tango singers and I was responsible for the instrumental and vocal arrangements. Some of its members were Tito Landó, Osvaldo Ramos (by then Osvaldo De Santis), Luis Rivera, the guitarist Norberto Pereira, Horacio Casares, Oscar Ferrari and Héctor Darío. Together with the first four just above mentioned members I appeared in the movie "Los viciosos", starred by Jorge Salcedo and Graciela Borges under the direction of Enrique Carreras and premiered on October 25, 1962.
«The following year after I appeared in "Los viciosos" I had the chance to join the Alfredo De Angelis Orchestra and to perform alongside whom today is still my friend, Juan Carlos Godoy. I made my debut at the "Glostora Tango Club", the program with the biggest audience at that time, performing the piece written by Enrique Delfino and Alberto Ballestero, "Dicen que dicen". On July 25, 1963 I waxed the tango "Carta para René" and began a period of numerous national and international tours with that orchestra.
«In 1964 we made our debut in Colombia on the radio station "La voz de Cali" of the Todelar radio network, where I precisely met Mercedes, the woman who now is my wife. With the orchestra we traveled later toEcuador and, in the city of Guayaquil, I split with maestro De Angelis and came back to Bogotá with the already impresario Raúl Iriarte to go on with my career as soloist.
«My tenure with Alfredo De Angelis allowed me to visit different countries and to acquaint friends of tango everywhere; besides appearing at the Glostora Tango Club, a pleasant and warm memory impossible to forget.
«I have three children. Two daughters, Liliana Patricia -who already brought me two grandchildren- and María Isabel, both born in Buenos Aires; while the only son, Mario, was born in Cali, Colombia, a land I greatly love.
«I'm an incipient composer, with a rather poor enthusiasm, as I think that the best was already done. I have three milongas: "La oficina", with Carlos Marchese, "Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada", with the well-remembered actor Ubaldo Martínez and "La milonga celestial", with Ángel Greco. Also the waltz "De la primaria" with Ángel Vilar and Jorge Moreira and a tango piece, "Pasión imposible", with Néstor Remón.
«I also emceed a tango program on Radio Argentina and about it I recall an episode which gave birth to the nickname "El Tata" for the great Floreal Ruiz whom till then we called "El Gallego". The program was El Rincón de los Artistas and one day, when we we already on the air I told Alberto Palazón, my partner at the program: Do you know who's coming tomorrow to the program?... "El Tata". And who's "ElTata"? Palazón asked me surprised. And then, I simply answered him: Floreal Ruiz.
«At that time, along with other greats of tango, Floreal and I were appearing precisely at the local "El Rincón de los Artistas" on Álvarez Jonte and Boyacá, with the same name like my radio program. That same night, all, colleagues and public, began to call him "El Tata" and so the tender nickname was incorporated to his enormous figure.»
My last request is about his projects.
«I'm simply devoted to recording, even though I have many pieces committed to record. I have not stopped since 1956 when I recorded "Quedémonos aquí" with Miguel Caló on a 78 rpm. Disc. Later the long-playing records came and, thereafter, the compact-discs. The last disc was in May 2003 and I cut it accompanied by the guitar group led by Hugo Rivas.»
Several times I've listened to this CD titled "Volvió una noche" and it always makes me live again -thanks to that voice laden by nostalgia of cart, trotting and leading horses- far distant memories that are moving like shadows and walk along paths of a past time.
When I left, from the door of his coquettish chalet he said goodbye with his two hands while whispering with hidden emotion: «Thanks for the honor!»