Néstor Pinsón

The Canaro Quintets: Don Pancho and Pirincho

irstly, we shall shortly explain the reason for the names of the quintets. As for Don Pancho, we know that either in Argentina or in other Spanish-spoken countries men with the name Francisco are known as Pancho or, also, Paco. Those are very common nicknames. Instead, the nickname Pirincho, according to Canaro’s explanation, is connected with a family story: «A woman friend of my mother’s named Sara was helping the midwife when I was about to be born. When my mother gave birth Sara exclaimed: It looks like a pirincho! Because she saw me with much bristling hair. A pirincho is a bird with long tail and plenty of feathers. Its small head has a disordered crest of a brownish gray color like the rest of its body».

It is widely known the important contribution Francisco Canaro made to tango. His first appearance was in 1906 —at the General Paz town, whose railroad station was already named Ranchos— with a peculiar trio consisting of violin, mandolin and guitar (the players were Canaro himself, Martín Arrevillaga and Rodolfo Duclós). His last recordings were cut in November 1964, soon before his death.

His first recordings were also with a trio: violin, piano and bandoneon in 1922. The following year he put together his tango orchestra and jazz band to play tango numbers —mostly— and fashionable rhythms and, even, other short-lived dancing pieces he himself wrote.

The Quinteto Don Pancho was formed only to make recordings and never appeared in public. They only recorded instrumentals. Canaro used to play for dancing.

It was lined up by Francisco Canaro (leader), Minotto Di Cicco (bandoneon), Juan José Gallastegui and Octavio Scaglione (violins), Luis Riccardi (piano) and Olindo Sinibaldi (double bass).

About these players let us say that Gallastegui, who carried out almost his whole career alongside this leader, in 1932 with Federico Scorticati and Osvaldo Pugliese accompanied either the appearances of Charlo or the ones by Adhelma Falcón.

Scaglione, who was known by his friends as Piscoto, was an Italian born on March 16, 1902. Before joining the quintet he had played for several years in the orchestra led by Roberto Firpo and had shared the violin section with Cayetano Puglisi and Elvino Vardaro. With Firpo he made public appearances and recorded until 1926. He passed away on November 8, 1974.

Sinibaldi, also with an extensive professional career, in 1920 joined the sextet fronted by El Gallego José Martínez to appear at the cabaret L'Abbaye. And, in 1922, he was member of the big orchestra conducted by Julio De Caro that had been put together for the carnaval balls and appeared at the L'Aiglon on Florida Street.

As it was a group for dancing it stressed the strong rhythmical beat. Ángel Ramos also substituted for Minotto when the latter needed it. Thereafter he joined Osvaldo Fresedo (1942), Julio De Caro (1950), Carlos Di Sarli (between 1951 and 1955). He also led his own groups and later he was the one who fronted Los Señores del Tango when the members of the pianist of Bahia Blanca split and formed this new aggregation.

The Quinteto Pirincho had a nearly twenty-four year tenure since the starting recording date on December 14, 1940. Likewise the Don Pancho, it was put together only for recordings; in fact, the differences with the latter very just a few: The name and some small changes, as follows: radio appearances, the soundtrack of a movie and the inclusion of a couple of speakers.

Its career could be divided into several series, according to label switching and changes of personnel. It began with the same lineup of the former. On several occasions Alfredo De Franco replaced Minotto Di Cicco.

Another member was the pianist Oscar Sabino, born in the locality of Remedios de Escalada, in the southern area of the Greater Buenos Airs, on February 22, 1910. He started at the so-called Cuarteto Melodía on Radio Belgrano. Later he accompanied the female singer Lely Morel. Thereafter he joined the comic group created by Tito Martínez del Box: La Cruzada Del Buen Humor in which he emulated the styles of other pianists until he joined the Canaro orchestra as substitute for Mariano Mores. He stayed until Canaro’s death. He was conductor of the staff orchestras of TV Channel 13 and composer of several tango numbers like: “Del suburbio”, “Bodas de oro con el tango”, “Meditación maleva”, “Mis amores de ayer”, “Como una herida” and “Incomprensión”.

The bass players José Alegre and Ariel Pedernera were also members of the quintet. For a very short period, the flutist Juvencio Física, leader of the Radio Belgrano orchestra —among many other musical activities— and, also, art director of the radio station. Another outstanding member was the bandoneon player Oscar Bassil.

In 1956 the quintet played for a season on Radio El Mundo. It was then lined up as follows: Canaro, Minotto, Antonio D’Alessandro, Scaglione, Sabino and Alegre.

In 1959 a movie was premiered with a wide public acclaim: He nacido en Buenos Aires starring Mario Fortuna and María Luisa Robledo and a group of young actors that in the story are tango fans. In the parts they appear as musicians their performances were dubbed by the quintet. And here is where the sound of the flute is played by the above Juvencio Física. The whole soundtrack was edited later.

In 1960 in the number “Torta frita” some stanzas were read by the singer Eduardo Adrián. In December 1961, in the Toshiba studios of Japan, they recorded a series of pieces that were taped and were released in Buenos Aires the following year.

The Quinteto Pirincho stage ended in 1964. By that time the members were Canaro, Bassil, D’Alessandro, Scaglione and Pedernera.