Hernán Volpe

Rossi - Interview to maestro Alcides Rossi

n his home in the neighborhood of Bernal, in the southern area of the Greater Buenos Aires, on the afternoon of Saturday, February 28, 1998 I was welcomed by the musician and bass player Alcides Rossi. We had a chat that I succeeded in recording and that I now shall try to transcribe in written words:

—First, tell us about your childhood and your father, the great Aniceto Rossi.

«I was born in Bernal in 1927 and I was fortunate to be brought up in a house where everybody was a musician. My grandfather and my uncle were double bass players and my father played cello. Music was breathed everywhere. Those were hard times and so my father switched to bass because there were more chances to work. So he managed to join the Roberto Zerrillo orchestra and later he accompanied Libertad Lamarque.

«Thereafter, in 1936, he came to know Osvaldo Pugliese; they played some stints together until in 1939 they formed the definitive orchestra in which he was until 1960. That year he retired and quit professional music for good.

«He was a great musician. I think the recordings show it and he contributed to create a style together with Pugliese. He was an innovator because he was the first bass player that played an a capella variation which, in addition, was recorded. I’m talking about the tango “Canaro en París”. After he retired he never played again and he passed away in 1971».

—He is connected directly with Pugliese, but tell us about his previous story. How did he start in tango?

«I was studying bass playing under my uncle´s, my grandfather’s and my Dad’s supervision. Imagine that at that house music was heard all the time and, especially, tango. I think it could not have been otherwise. Then when I managed to play a little bit I joined the orchestra led by Cristóbal Herreros. That was my first professional job. Later I had the luck of playing in great orchestras with outstanding leaders like Alfredo Gobbi –with whom I recorded many tango numbers-, Florindo Sassone, José Basso, Alberto Morán and Armando Cupo, Aníbal Troilo and Osvaldo Pugliese. I also backed up Nelly Omar on Radio El Mundo».

—And then Pugliese comes. So how can you analyze today your tenure in the orchestra?

«Quite positive, no doubt! In many aspects, for example, the tour of Japan in 1965, the rehearsals in the room on Callao 11, the recording sessions, the concerts and, above all, my relationship with don Osvaldo and all the boys, true friends in and out of the orchestra and greatly admired by me».

—The figure of Osvaldo Ruggiero has always been highlighted, why?

«Either with Pugliese or, later, with the Sexteto Tango, Ruggiero suggested the right ways for the style. His indications were precise, accurate. He was also a natural leader and the style of the Sexteto is greatly his own. He was one of the greats».

—What did you learn or what meant for you the contact with the great leaders?

«I always tried to assimilate what they transmitted. Since my youth I have been lucky to be associated with these outstanding men: Gobbi, Troilo, Pugliese, and many more. You only had to be quiet and listen to them. That was the learning process».

—You may have thousands of stories, please tell us one you remember now.

«I was in the Alfredo Gobbi orchestra and we were playing on Radio El Mundo. The leader was unable to go the radio show because he was ill but he listened to the radio at home and, the following day, he criticized me because the “G” string was out of tune. Then I understood the greatness of these geniuses, their extraordinary ear and the sense of style they aimed for their orchestras».

—When you sit in order to listen to music… what does Alcides Rossi like?

«I like the Carlos Di Sarli orchestra very much. I also like Pugliese, Gobbi, whom I deeply admire. I also respect a style that is difficult to perform: the one played by Juan D'Arienzo. And, of course, classical music».

—A unique case: the Sexteto Tango.

«Yes, it was really important for tango at that time, those difficult years for the genre. We played at the Teatro Colón soon after we started and the public quickly acclaimed the group. Thereafter we managed to travel often to Europe and throughout Japan several times to wide acclaim».

—Finally, we want to know what friends you have thanks to tango.

“Fortunately, many, and very good ones. With Osvaldo Ruggiero I reached the greatest affinity but I also have to mention Julián Plaza, Oscar Herrero, Emilio Balcarce and Armando Cupo».