Ricardo García Blaya

Bertero - Chatting with Fabián Bertero at my home

ndoubtedly, he is a born musician with a genetic music staff of several generations. Let us briefly revise the history of his ancestors.

His great grandfather uncle Bartolomé fled from his Piedmontese land —helped by his family— in order to avoid being drafted for the Crimean war. He paid his fare by working as cook on the ship. He ended up in Buenos Aires as clarinetist and fencing instructor in the army of the brigadier general Juan Manuel de Rosas. And when in the early 1850 the man foresaw the possibility of a new war he came back to his fatherland. In the mid- sixties his other five brothers came but without him. Some years later he came back and settled in Grütly Norte, province of Santa Fe, where his brother Lorenzo —the great grandfather flutist— lived. There was the birthplace of his grandfather Bartolo, bandoneon player, and Dad Lorenzo, also bandoneonist. Thereafter they moved to Colonia Esperanza and there the protagonist of this interview was born.

«Why did I choose the violin? That was imposed by the family due to the great demand of violinists in Buenos Aires and, also, because of the example of my uncle Miguel Ángel Bertero.

«Every fortnight I traveled to the Capital Federal to have classes with Ljerko Spiller until I won a scholarship and on March 30, 1989 I settled in Buenos Aires, in the neighborhood of Núñez. I had married the year before and times were difficult, there was a big crisis and it was very difficult to work for a living. The idea was playing classical music. I had been member, as violin soloist, of the symphonic orchestras of Santa Fe and Entre Ríos.

«In 1989 for three months I played in the Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires and, the following year, shortly, in the staff aggregation of the Teatro Colón. To get the money for our survival I played at any kind of gig with tango orchestras, weddings, parties, whatever. Even though my family had planned that I had to fill a post in a symphonic orchestra I had learnt a lot of tango with my Dad and my gradfather and, the truth, is that at those hard times it was that music the one which allowed me to get along with my needs.

«By that time I had short tenures with the aggregations headed by Daniel Binelli, Osvaldo Piro, Leopoldo Federico and was blessed by the special circumstance of a tour of Japan with the Carlos García orchestra.

«This tour had several ingredients. It was my first important tango gig, my first international tour, my first travel by plane and my first visit to Japan. Furthermore it was departing from an Argentina with a galloping inflation (1991) to go to a country that was regarded as the second economy of the world and at the time of its highest peak. You can’t image the shock. On the other side there were monsters traveling with that orchestra: Antonio Agri as lead violin, Freddy Scorticati as lead bandoneon, Marcos Madrigal as second bandoneon, the “German” (Alemán) Schneider on flute and Aníbal Arias on guitar... My God!

«As from 1992 things were improving and thanks to Fernando Suárez Paz, with whom I had begun to play in his string group, I appeared in the television programs directed by Gerardo Sofovich.

«After three tiresome contests for a vacancy I joined the Orquesta del Tango de Buenos Aires. Finally a sure income! From that moment on I realized that I would never quit tango, that was the genre in which I best expressed myself.

«When I joined the Orquesta del Tango I was placed by the side of Finito Domínguez. He was a veteran violinist that had passed through the ranks of nearly all the orchestras, among them the ones led by Carlos Di Sarli, Francisco Rotundo and José Basso. The man had a great ability to transmit his knowledge. Much of what I know about interpretation and tango styles is because I had been with him around a year.

«Thereafter came the tour with Luis Miguel in 1994. It was an aggregation that included over twenty strings conducted by Suárez Paz. We traveled along our country for fifteen days. We began in Salta and the last performance was in Mar del Plata. We earned a good money, our pay had international value.

«A short comment about that group, I’ll name one by one the string players: Fernando Suárez Paz, Enrique Mogni, Mario Abramovich, Gerardo Pachilla, Damián Bolotín, Martín González, Salvador Spátola, Esteban Prentky, Juan de la Cruz Bringas, Mauricio Marcelli, Leonardo Suárez Paz, Ariel Spandrio and, of course, myself (violins); Mario Fiocca, Walter Oliverio, Rubén Jurado (violas); and Carlos Nozzi, Marcelo Bru, Jorge Pérez Tedesco, Néstor Tedesco (cellos).

«My name as violin soloist was widely spreading and I was summoned by great musicians. I worked from time to time with Osvaldo Berlingieri and Julián Plaza. And, between 1992 and 1996, I joined the José Colángelo orchestra to appear at El Viejo Almacén. As well, by that time, I was member of the staff group of Michelangelo. Then we recorded two discs, one instrumental for Japan and another accompanying the female singer Ana Medrano. In 1994 we made a tour of Japan and I made different appearances along with Alberto Podestá and Raúl Lavié, among others. While I worked with Colángelo I traveled to Europe with the Atilio Stampone quintet.

«One of the most incredible times was when I played in Michelangelo with the sextet fronted by Carlos Buono to back up Libertad Lamarque. Previously, I had played along with Roberto Goyeneche but with the staff orchestra of the venue. This work was recorded in the last disc cut by El Polaco.

«There are many memories that come to my head: The performances with the Carlos Galván group on television in the program La Noche Con Amigos, conducted by Lionel Godoy; my early charts back in 1994, one of them became finalist at the Primer Festival de la Canción (Argentinísima, ATC, 1994).

«It was with Galván that I started to work hard as arranger in 1997 because for a weekly TV program with different singers you needed an intensive practice: sometimes I had to write ten or twelve charts in a week. This meant a very important possibility of gaining dexterity, speed, experience. I was the arranger for the orchestra with which we traveled to Japan in 2003 (my fourth travel to Japan from a total of seven) which included the release of a CD.

«From 2003 and up to 2006 I was the violin soloist of the Fernando Marzán Quintet with which I recorded three discs and made four tours. We appeared in France, Finland, Sweden, Lituania, Israel, Martinica, Japan, Chile and Denmark with the shows Tango Emoción and Tango Seducción.

«With the Edgardo Acuña quintet I recorded the compact disc Tango Marginal2004 I went to Japan twice: firstly, with the quartet headed by Osvaldo Montes, later, with the Osvaldo Requena orchestra. In 2007 I was in Chile with the Selección Nacional de Tango.

«I played as guest soloist at the Teatro Colón with the Osvaldo Piro Orchestra, on that occasion along with Susana Rinaldi. Later, also with Piro, I played in Punta del Este and at the Tango Festival of La Falda.

«As arranger and leader I played in two albums of the singer and composer Oscar Pometti: Tangos de Amor (2001), nominated for the Latin Grammy, and Profecía en Tango (2006). Also I wrote the charts for two discs of my uncle Miguel Ángel Bertero and was co-producer of the compact disc released by Sandra Luna, Con las alas de Eladia which had 5 nominations to the Premios Gardel 2008. The same I did with María José Mentana for her album Por amor a Buenos Aires (2008) in which Néstor Marconi, Atilio Stampone and the Arias-Montes duo played, among other guest artists.

«In the beginning of the new century I put together again a group I had formed in 1995: Fabián Bertero y los Músicos de Buenos Aires and I devised it as a sextet. The members were: Horacio Romo (bandoneon), Diego Sánchez (cello), Edgardo Acuña (guitar), Nicolás Ledesma (piano) and Horacio Cabarcos (double bass).»

At this time of the reunion and, amazed by so intensive career, I asked the young talented musician about his new challenge: the Bertero Big Band Tango, which means something like fourteen players onstage. It is quite an event if we take into account the economic difficulties of the art activities and, specially, tango.

«I make my living of music but more for music and, what I like most is composing and arranging. Orchestrating for a large aggregation was my dream when I was a child and it has to do with that. I have the hope of being able to finance that dream.»