Néstor Pinsón

Cortti - Eduardo Cortti and his memories (1998)

e told me someday: «My encounter with Fulvio Salamanca was curious. I was getting off the bus that brought the boys of the Miguel Nijenson orchestra —we were an offspring of the Miguel Caló Orchestra— and at the same time Fulvio was getting off the bus that brought the musicians of Juan D'Arienzo that were returning from another ball.

«He saw me, we said hello and we went to a place to have a drink because he wanted to tell me something. “I’ll tell you the news —he told me— I’m leaving the orchestra, not even Juan D'Arienzo knows it: I want to start on my own and you are someone I need. Furthermore you can suggest me names because I really don’t know the milieu quite well. Working with Juan is terrible, I live isolated, we have a lot of work”.

«And so it happened. He accepted the bandoneon players I suggested. They were Adolfo Gómez, Maggiolo and Julio Esbrez. And I also suggested him a violinist, Aquiles Aguilar, a fellow musician then who had also played with me in the Caló’s aggregation. When a few days later we told him he was our choice for lead violin he frankly asked us: “And what do you think if I bring Elvino Vardaro as lead violin?”. What a nice attitude! To our surprise Vardaro accepted. His tenure with us was less than a year because he later moved to Córdoba.

«Elvino Vardaro was like a kid, but a very delicate child, with very good manners, soft and also like a father that tries that the younger and lazy ones would change their attitudes and stop doing silly things inherent to their age.

«When the bassist Ítalo Veza split with us to travel to Russia Rafael del Bagno replaced him. We were on a tour in Mendoza when one Monday that was our day off Rafael drank heavily. He shared the hotel room with Vardaro and as he did not turn up the latter was greatly indignant as if he were his father or an elder brother. Late at night he was found fallen in an irrigation ditch in bad condition. His clothes were ragged, he had missed his false teeth. When Elvino saw him he began to weep. He was no longer a father he had become his mother. That sensitivity was customary with him.

«In the orchestra he never boasted about his experience nor the great acclaim he had achieved for a long time from musicians and audiences. If he had to suggest something he did it as if he was afraid of offending someone.

«Nijensohn used to practice very often. But Salamanca spent much time to polish the way the bandoneon section played the beat. It was something peculiar. Playing four-to-the-beat can be spiccato, slurred like Carlos Di Sarli or staccato like D’Arienzo. But here we were told to play a double marcato, musically speaking. A double apoggiatura when the four-to-the-beat was played. And this took us some time. He did not want to do something similar to the D’Arienzo’s style. When the time of recording arrived we had not yet achieved that. Let us say it was fifty per cent. It was regarded as a polished orchestra but it yet had not reached the identity Fulvio was aiming for.

«Chance had a lot to do with our style. One evening when we were having dinner at the house of the singer Jorge Garré, Armando Guerrico who was also there began to sing one number very softly. It attracted my attention and I asked him what it was. He answered me: “A tango entitled “Adiós corazón”. I don’t know where I heard it”. This smells like a smash hit. Fulvio has to hear it. And so it happened. He heard it and he liked it and we began to find out who the songwriters were. In SADAIC it was not filed. But Fulvio had the idea of phoning Uruguay where he had a bunch of friends and he was right. It belonged to Lalo Etchegoncelay and Héctor Sapelli. He talked to them and they agreed. They sent the sheet music, Fulvio wrote the charts and found what he was looking for because he achieved his “touch” with the violins when he told them to play unison in the highest range. It occurred to him when he wrote the arrangement. In this tango and in others that came later the orchestra was immediately recognized by this wise guess. It was a smash hit.

«This was an orchestra I still miss. Furthermore Fulvio was unjustly punished by the military that at that time governed our nation only because his ideas were contrary to those of them. He was marginalized in the worst way.

«The orchestra made its debut at the Club Glorias Argentinas in 1957. They were introduced by the announcer Antonio Carrizo and were supported by many musicians and friends. Osvaldo Pugliese and Francisco Canaro were among them. In spite of the fact that tango, in general, was then being replaced by other music genres there were still tango fans.

«Another landmark for us was our debut on Radio Splendid. There was again a support by musicians and actors. We stayed there for several years. Later we switched to Radio El Mundo and even appeared in the famous daily radio show known as El Glostora Tango Club.

«My tenure in the orchestra was until 1962. After a tour that lasted a month and a half, together with other artists, I quit.

«Of this stage with Fulvio I recall one anecdote: Ahead there was a tour of Chile with everything signed and a confirmed date. Also there was an engagement with Philips to cut a long-playing record. One day before our departure the officials of the recording company asked us to move forward the job. We still had a few hours left before our departure. But we did it, we were exhausted and sleepy but everything was all right. Among the recorded numbers were “El remate”, “La revancha”, “Pelele” and others with Armando Guerrico on vocals who had cut the hit “Adiós corazón” and also “Bomboncito”, “Hasta siempre amor” and some others in a sentimental mood.

«This vocalist was one of the reasons of this engagement. But when he left the studio to go to his place to pick up his luggage he collided with his car and broke one of his legs. We phoned the one who had signed us but he said that anyway we had to travel. The other vocalist in the orchestra was Luis Correa. He had a different voice timbre and was in charge of the strong tangos. Then Luis had to sing in an upper range. He reached the notes Guerrico sang and as the audience wanted to hear those tangos, everything was OK. We fulfilled the contract.

«I have respect and admiration for Fulvio. Still today his quality is untouched. His peers never stopped saying that his piano solos are beautiful. Someone even said they are diabolic due to their neatness and sound quality and because of their technical perfection.

«As for the melodic line, I admire Roberto Ray, the foundation stone of the Osvaldo Fresedo orchestra. But later I think that Guerrico has not been surpassed due to his voice quality, his intonation, his tenderness, his way of interpretation. There are many vocalists with a stronger voice, that are very interesting, but in his line I prefer him. He did not transcend as he deserved. Then it was and still is very important the response of the audience and the female world but he did not have the looks of a leading actor. He was rather fat. Anyway he had a good figure but girls did not whisper for him. When he talked to them he revealed his way. He was sort of a puritan. We used to make jokes on him and tell him that he would distribute illustrations with images of saints. When we went out for lunch it was a problem because he did not want to eat meat. He was vegetarian. In sum, Armando was a bore. But he had a sweet temper quite different to the ones of several rogues I met in the milieu.

«Before the events I mentioned above I had joined the Rodolfo Biagi orchestra for a while and later the one of my great friend and neighbor of Parque Chacabuco, Eduardo Rovira, who had taken over the leadership of the Alberto Castillo orchestra back in 1950.

«Among the pieces I composed “Qué te pasa Buenos Aires” stands out. I’ll tell you about its birth. It was an evening in 1954 when we were standing by the door of the glorious Café Nacional, close to the theater. It was about to close for good and it would mean that one of the last or the last tango venue among the many ones that had been on Corrientes Street would be gone forever. By that time I was working with Miguel Caló and on that occasion I was accompanied by Miguel Auteri, lead violinist of the group, a boy from Rosario and Juan José Correia who later would be the lyricist for my composition. It was full of people. Then Alberto Marino was singing and so one of my friends, when seeing the people’s acclaim and knowing that a great numbers of tango venues were now pizza shops, turned around and looking towards the obelisk asked: "¿Qué te pasa Buenos Aires?" (What’s happening Buenos Aires?). Soon I told them: “Boys here’s a tango, that’s a tango title”.

«I wrote the music and Correia added the lyrics to which he later made some changes on request of some singers. It was premiered by Ángel Mayo with a quintet I led at a night club on Maipú Street near Córdoba. Pablo Melfi — Mario’s brother on double bass—, José Stilman —on violin—, José Polato, a guy from Rosario who had lived many years in Mexico, and I —on bandoneons—, and Carlos Parodi on piano. Mayo premiered it with the original words. Libertad Lamarque and Miguel Montero asked for some changes. In the second section of the lyrics Correia had written: «Who was guilty of heresy / for placing pizza shops / where tango was cradled?». And in the last section: «Don’t embarrass me / because this is a shame». When Pugliese recorded it with Montero on vocals the words had already been modified to our dislike. It was the expression of a true fact but it had to be changed. It was also recorded by Alfredo Belusi, Jorge Caldara with Carlos Montalvo, Gloria Díaz, Salamanca with Jorge Garré and many others. The piece consecrated me. People came to know me better.

«I was not a prolific composer. Another number of mine was “Con voz rebelde” with lyrics by Carlos Alberto Zein. It was recorded by Pugliese with Belusi and there is a second rendition with Abel Córdoba. Another one was: “Ya dice papá” with lyrics by Juan José Correia. It was recorded by Montero with the José Libertella Orchestra, and Salamanca with Luis Correa. Another one: “Por todo gracias Japón”. I composed it when I came back from Japan with the José Basso’s aggregation. I recorded it with my orchestra and Carlos Montalvo on vocals.

«One that was not committed to record but Pugliese had included in his repertoire was: “No es hora para más”. María Graña sang it. The lyrics were by Jorge Moreira. It was awarded at the festival of Baradero in the 70s.

«With my Cuarteto Estilo Tango, that included the brothers Jorge and Juan Carlos Cordone on guitar and guitarrón, with Omar Murtagh on double bass and Alberto “Chino” Hidalgo on vocals we recorded for Music Hall a series of numbers —they were released on a cassette—, among them, “Dame tu tango bandoneón” that I wrote in collaboration with Oscar Fuscaldo. There were 12 numbers, six with vocals.

«Thereafter I had a serious accident on General Paz Avenue when I was rolled down by a car when I was replacing a flat tire of my car. I had many broken bones from my waist down, legs, pelvis. It was a disaster! Under these hard circumstances I want to highlight that a peer came to visit me to the clinic every day. I’m talking of Ismael Spitalnik.

«I reappeared in the mid- 1984 with a quartet: Armando Lacava (piano), Julio Rodolfo Piazza (string bass) —later he became a singer with Fulvio— and Jorge Nimo (guitar), the vocalist was Ricardo Chiqui Pereyra

We spent the whole afternoon talking about life and agreeing on the difficulties of tango nowadays. After that we said goodbye with a hug and each one returned to his duties. He came back to his bandoneon and I, to my consulting room. Chino Eduardo Cortti was a great maestro, a complete, talented artist. He is one of the many ones that tango brought for us and that today, through his own words, we bring back from an unjust oblivion.