Ricardo García Blaya

Raigal - Marcelo Raigal’s confessions

’m not strictly a specialist nor a critic but just a good tango «listener». I like the way Marcelo plays piano. Besides the neatness of his technique, he has feeling and shocks you. His compositions are very interesting and original, his arrangements are subtle and, as well, sophisticated.

Due to a very short exchange of e-mails, I had the chance of listening to some of his solos and some instrumentals with his group.

He told me he was born in Rosario, province of Santa Fe. At age 16 he began to play popular music appearing along with two great bandoneonists of Rosario: Cholo Montironi and Miguel Vettorello, today known as Miguel Arrabal, now based in Miami, United States.

His musical life started in the classical field and, when he was still a teenager, he played piano concertos to great public acclaim. But soon thereafter he switched to popular music and, at age 17, he put together his first aggregation: Marcelo Raigal and his Quintet.

With his group he shared the bill with great artists like Astor Piazzolla and Amelita Baltar at the Teatro El Círculo de Rosario. On that occasion the singer was Ariel Campos.

Later, for a short time, he teamed up with Montironi as a duo. Afterwards he started an active career, firstly, as pianist in the Orquesta Típica led by Domingo Federico, thereafter, in the Orquesta Mundial de Tango led by Rodolfo Mederos and, finally, accompanying different singers together with Vettorello at the mythical room of the Hotel Europeo of Rosario, among them: Chola Luna, Ruth Durante, Nelly Vázquez, Rodolfo Lesica, Mario Bustos and Argentino Ledesma.

In 1999 he presented the show «Borges: Tango. Encuentro a orillas de un sueño» at the Festival Internacional de Tango in Granada, Spain. The show had texts by Miguel Jubany and music of his own and was declared as of national interest by our national government.

One year later he appeared at the Cumbre Mundial del Tango of Rosario with the show «El tango de los amantes» with numbers he composed especially for that festival and with lyrics also by Jubany.

He returned to Spain in 2001 with another show, «Cambalache y Uno», that dealt about the Enrique Santos Discepolo’s life and since then he is based in Madrid.

He himself told me the reason that led him to leave and settle in Spain.

«In Rosario, besides my musical activities, I worked as general manager of the Banco Cooperativo de la Provincia de Santa Fe which later was merged into another cooperative entity. When I was fired I opened a restaurant, Puerto Picasso, where I played piano pieces every evening, and we developed musical evenings with different artists of Rosario and even with Horacio Ferrer and Cacho Tirao on some occasions.

«Precisely at Puerto Picasso a great friend, the poet Miguel Jubany, came to tell me about a show concerning Borges to be presented at the International Tango Festival of Granada. And because of that I arrived in Spain for the first time.

«There I got in touch with Horacio Rébora, director of the Festival and, later, in 2001, and because of a new show in that festival, I definitively settled in Spain. The situation in Argentina had worsened. I had to close the restaurant and, in sum, that was the reason, as many others, of my migration. Those were hard times but, however, they were hopeful.

«At first I came alone and later I managed to bring my family. I want to highlight Horacio Rébora’s support at this stage. He was the one who connected me with musicians and singers of Spain».

For six consecutive years he appeared at the International Tango Festival in Granada as soloist of piano accompanying different singers and with his instrumental aggregations. At the Cumbre Mundial of Sevilla he played with his trio and backed the female singer Graciela Giordano.

Among the many festivales in which he appeared we can mention those of Almería, Sagunto, Benalmádena, Vigo and Alcantarilla (Spain), Berlin and Reinghau (Germany) and Valparaíso (Chile). Furthermore, he made tours of Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, France, Chile and Argentina.

As soloist or with his trio he accompanied important artists like the poet Horacio Ferrer and the singers Mirian Penela, Graciela Giordano, Elizabeth Figueroa, Roberto Grande and Alberto Hidalgo (aka Chino), among others.

He put together, led and recorded with a trio and other groups: the combo Tangótiko and Rayuela Tango Orquesta.

He was starred along with the dancers Julio and Veronique in the film Encantango, directed by Débora Blake, which is about the passion for tango worldwide and also are shown details of the birth and development of Rayuela Tango Orquesta.

Presently he is pianist and arranger of the shows «Gardel, El zorzal», «Muñeca brava», «Con voz de mina» and «Cantos de muchos puertos» of the singer and actress Mirian Penela, and Graciela Giordano’s «Tangueramente».

He also leads his group Quinteto Rojo y Negro that includes piano, bandoneon, violin, guitar and double bass which plays a repertoire of danceable style which is required at tango festivals.

Out of his oeuvre as composer the instrumentals that stand out are: “Figurita [b]”, “Rojo y negro”, “Bailame”, “Eugenia”, “Tango de los amantes”. The ones co-written with the poet Héctor Negro: “Ciudad trampa”, “Tanguito por la que camina bailando”, “Tiempo niño [b]”, “Yo quiero creer”. With Miguel Jubany: “La mujer de la noche larga”, “Como las arañas”, “Milonga de la señora”. With Enrique Morcillo: “La hija de tal”, “El gualicho”, and with Daniel Freidenberg: “Susana de la noche”.

He recorded six compact discs, one, B-flat. Milonga, an instrumental; with Graciela Giordano: La mujer de la noche larga; with Elizabeth Figueroa: Toda mi vida and Reencuentros; with Noelia Moncada: El tango de los amantes. All of them under his musical direction and arrangements.