Néstor Scalone

Brothers and bass players: Pepe and Kicho Díaz

e, tango men, are rather ungrateful with one of the main instruments in the tango rhythm section: the string bass. Even more, if we refer to its players the thing is worse. The task of remembering them is quite an achievement, in most cases their names are lost forever with the passing of time.

Following our guidelines, as always, Todo Tango aiming to compensate oblivions, recovers a work by Néstor Scalone for the Tango y Lunfardo magazine, a publication that Gaspar Astarita with great effort and much love gave us from his beloved Chivilcoy.

In that article the story of the three Díaz brothers (David, José and Enrique) that stood out in tango is told. Here we shall remember the latter two. The portrayal of David Díaz, the violinist of the family, is already in the section Los Creadores.

We shall start with José, outstanding bass player that was born in the city of Avellaneda, province of Buenos Aires on July 23, 1909.

He played in the Osvaldo Pugliese orchestra, later in the one fronted by Francisco Fiorentino, the unforgettable singer of Aníbal Troilo who became a soloist. Among the men that led the latter aggregation were Orlando Goñi and Astor Piazzolla.

Thereafter he played with the Alfredo Gobbi’s orchestra and he was with the one led by Joaquín Do Reyes until 1952 when he quit music to devote himself to trade.

In spite of the fact he was the one that spent the least time as professional musician, his influence in the music careers of his younger brother, Kicho, and of his cousin Fernando Cabarcos was strong, according to the appreciation of them both.

Pepe Díaz passed away on May 7, 1972.

As for Enrique, widely known by his nickname Kicho, we can say he was born on January 21, 1918 and that at a very young age, following his brother Pepe’s advice, he switched guitar and bandoneon to the study of bass playing.

By 1935 he began in a group alongside the pianist José Pascual and also with Anselmo Aieta.

Some time later, thanks to the connections of his friend and peer Juan “Tito” Fassio he joined the Aníbal Troilo orchestra in which he stayed until 1959. He played in around 300 recordings, a little bit less than his brother David.

He also was member of the Troilo-Grela quartet on several occasions. In 1954 he had already been honored by Pichuco and Ástor Piazzolla who wrote the tango “Contrabajeando” to feature his playing.

Years later, when he was member of the Ástor’s aggregation, the latter dedicated to him the tango “Kicho” with all the esteem and admiration for his skills, according to what we can read on the sheet music copy.

He also spent some time playing along with Lucio Demare and in the sixties he founded several groups of soloists, among them, in 1960 “Estrellas de Buenos Aires”, a quartet that also included Armando Cupo (piano), Hugo Baralis (violin), Jorge Caldara (bandoneon) and the vocalists Marga Fontana and Héctor Ortiz.

He was summoned by Mariano Mores and later he joined the Quinteto Real. With the latter he traveled to Japan. In the eighties he was member of the Sexteto Mayor and toured Europe with the well- remembered show “Tango Argentino”, devised and directed by Héctor Orezzoli and Claudio Segovia.

It would turn out impossible to enumerate in this short portrayal all the appearances of this dear player. We have chosen some of them, possibly, the ones most widely known.

Kicho Díaz died in Buenos Aires on October 5, 1992.