Oscar Zucchi

Uría - Interview to the bandoneonist Guillermo Uría

he last of the great Rosario bandoneon players of the forties passed away in Alberdi, the neighborhood where he was born, after having struggled against a cruel incurable illness. Along with Julio Ahumada, Deolindo Cazaux and Antonio Ríos, he was part of the magnificent tetralogy that sprung up by that time in the city of Rosario.

Guillermo Uría especially stood out as instrumentalist because he evidenced his profound knowledge of the instrument which consecrated him as one of the most outstanding players due to his polished technique and his great expressiveness that favored a legato phrasing. He possessed a magnificent way of phrasing. His bandoneon sound was one of the most beautiful ones ever heard and his firm and calm style was harmonically rich in which his clear ideas prevailed by allowing the melody to appear fluently and with all the beauty conceived by the composer.

He mastered the technique of playing while opening and while closing without harming the quality of his sound and taking advantage of all the subtle nuances derived from this latter operation which is something that generally the new generations seem to forget. As soloist he showed exceptional abilities and wrote his own arrangements like, for example, on the tango “Recuerdo” or the waltz “Sueño de juventud”.

An extraordinary friend, I exhume the interview I made to the beloved Vasco in 1974.

«My liking for music was revealed very early. After my early harmonica concerts, I began to play guitar by ear. When I was older I began to study violin, an instrument I liked. But after several years I quit. I used to go to the classes but I did not read the books. I had been studying music for seven years.

«In 1932 my older brother began to study bandoneon playing and started with theory and sight reading —very enthusiastically— with maestro Juan Rezzano. One week later he appeared with a brand new doble A, a music stand, a stool or footrest and the study method by Ricardo Brignolo. All that he got for three hundred pesos. But he realized that because of his business he would not have spare time to study.

«In the meantime, I had begun to play some melodies by ear and so he, noticing my ability and enthusiasm, made me the forward pass and I turned up at Rezzano’s in his place. The composer of “Duelo criollo” was paid for my classes thanks to my brother who gave me the money. I began to study hard. It seemed to me that I had an orchestra in my hands. What a difference with the violin solos! Rezzano was better known as composer and teacher than as a player and leader. In Rosario the same happened to Abel Bedrune who had Julio Ahumada, Antonio Ríos and others as alumni.

«In 1933 my professional debut took place with a local trio that I met at a wedding party and which became a quartet with my inclusion. Drums, violin and two bandoneons. They told me that in a few days my name would be written on the drums, and so it was. Uría-Pascual, Típica y Jazz. I was paid five pesos for my debut. We appeared at several dancehalls but now with piano and saxophone.

«Later, we appeared on Radio LT3 but as members of the orchestra of my teacher Rezzano. Firstly in Rosario and, thereafter, in Buenos Aires. Along with me Deolindo Cazaux and Antonio Ríos were. We were not lucky and we switched to the Cayetano Puglisi orchestra. We appeared for a time at a cabaret on Florida Street near Plaza San Martín and later at a basement in Diagonal Norte. One year later I came back to Rosario.

«And in 1941, back to Buenos Aires to appear on Radio Belgrano with the Abel Bedrune orchestra. The bandoneon section was lined up with Lucio Di Filippo, Adolfo Galesio, Domingo Mattio and I. The following year I joined the group led by Alberto Soifer which included José Basso (piano), Bernardo Stalman, Alberto del Mónaco and other two that I don’t remember on violins. The bandoneon section was lined up with Ahumada, Héctor Presas, Miguel Quartucci and I. The vocalist, at that time a boom, was Roberto Quiroga. We appeared on Radio El Mundo, in Ronda de Ases broadcast from the Teatro Casino on Maipú Street and a few recordings for the Victor company.

«Around 1944 a big orchestra was put together to back up Roberto Rufino who wanted to continue his career as soloist singer. With Atilio Bruni (piano and leadership); José Dames, Domingo Larrosa, Armando Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Correa and I (bandoneons); Claudio González, José Sarmiento, Pedro Aguilar, David Abramsky (violins) and Rafael del Bagno (double bass). The debut at the Palermo Palace was a smash hit, the Pibe had many fans. The same happened at the Cabaret Reverie, on Maipú and Lavalle, and Radio Belgrano.

«That same year I joined the Antonio Rodio’s outfit, in his last stage. My peers in that group were Ernesto Rossi and Atilio Corral. With them I appeared on Radio El Mundo and at the Tibidabo night club. From 1945 to 1947 at the Bar Ebro with the orchestras led by Francisco Grillo and by Argentino Galván.

«In the late 1947 my dream came true: I visited the land of my parents, Spain. It was with Francisco Lomuto. Juan Carlos Howard was on piano, the singer was Alberto Rivera and the female singer was Chola Luna. From 1948 to 1950 I worked with Joaquín Do Reyes. In that aggregation I played with my close friend El Japonés Armando Rodríguez, also with Máximo Mori, Elvino Vardaro and the Guisado brothers. Among the many singers I remember Horacio Deval and Hugo Soler. In the 40s and partly in the 50s there was always job and, sincerely, I would like to live it again».