Julián Ortiz

Ortiz - Julián Ortiz’s confessions

eeply touched by melancholy, Julián Ortiz decided to collect biographical data and different testimonies by some musicians that, after arriving in Buenos Aires from other cities —like him (he was born in Firmat, province of Santa Fe)—, settled for a time at the boarding house on Salta 321, known as La Alegría (Happiness).

It took place between 1935 and 1946. Its owners were Humberto Cerini and his wife Nieves. Dreams, desires for study and inspiration were sheltered there. The information collected gave rise to the publication of a fifteen-page booklet with front and back cover which was released in 1988, distributed by Argentina Musical, then with address on Montevideo 708, fifth floor, office 24. Furthermore, behind the initial illustration by the renowned Roberto Mezzadra, are included sheet-music and lyrics of his tango co-written with José Lombardero: “Pensión de la calle Salta” which was recorded by the Víctor D'Amario orchestra with Osvaldo Arana on vocals, and also by Héctor Palacios with the Buenos Aires 3 trio.

«After my early music studies in my hometown and in Rosario, in July 1935 I went to Buenos Aires to join the orchestra led by José Luis Padula which was appearing on Radio Callao, Fénix, La Nación, La Voz del Aire and Porteña. It had a show on each of them. The singer was Ángel Vargas and then I had the chance to meet Argentino Galván, who was then violinist, and I also met the double bass player Quintela, who later became one of the most sought-after jazz bassists.

«The next year I switched to the Eduardo Pereyra orchestra. The debut was on Radio El Mundo. It was one of the first tango orchestras that opened the radio station. It had three young vocalists: Amadeo Mandarino, Agustín Volpe and Virginio Gobbi, Alfredo’s brother, later organist in the intermission shows at movie theaters. There were five violinists, Juan José Gallastegui, Damore, Russo, Barrios and I. The lead bandoneon was Jorge Sara aka El Turquito (The Little Turk).

«The following year I joined the ranks of Cayetano Puglisi, an excellent person and musician. The debut was at the King’s Club, later called Charleston. It was located on Florida Street near Santa Fe Avenue. At that venue Don Dean and his jazz group appeared. Jazz was then very successful. Others that also played there were: the English Raz Gaudey, our Luis Rolero with the then quite young Helen Jackson, the famous black men of the Swing Star with its famous clarinetist Booker Pitman. The pianist with Puglisi was then Orestes Cúfaro, a man from Rosario, like his bandoneonists Antonio Ríos, Deolindo Cassaux and Guillermo Uría. The singer was Antonio Rodríguez Lesende, (aka El Gallego).

«Thereafter I appeared at the legendary Café Germinal with the Sexteto Bossi-Estévez with Francisco de Rose on piano, Alberto del Mónaco on violin. We played from 9 pm to 1 am and at a different time the Elvino Vardaro sextet appeared. A glorious event!

«In 1937 I had the chance to appear on Radio Belgrano with a small group led by the pianist Luis Tenaglia and in the carnival balls I played with the orchestra led by my admired Julio De Caro. It was a 22-piece aggregation at the Cine-Teatro Pueyrredón on Rivadavia Avenue in Flores. The singer was the young Edmundo Rivero.

«I had a brief tenure in the orchestra fronted by Humberto Canaro and later I was summoned by Francisco Lauro, a hard-to-find picturesque character in the history of tango. Soon after rehearsing we had our debut at a luxurious and dazzling cabaret called Bambú (in a basement on Corrientes and Esmeralda), by that time we also appeared on LR4 Radio Splendid. That orchestra also appeared on LR1 Radio El Mundo under the name Un Rincón de Mendoza because it had been hired by a restaurant with that name with typical food of the Cuyo area. The restaurant was fashionable at that time and was located on Avenida Santa Fe near Pueyrredón. We used to play at dinner time. This was by 1938. The same aggregation later became Los Mendocinos. I was with El Tano Lauro until the late 1943 and then I again joined Julio De Caro to appear at the fancy Embassy night club on Florida Street and to cut some recordings.

«In 1944 I joined the Alfredo Gobbi’s outfit that was appearing at the Sans Souci, also at the Marzotto bar and at the Congo tearoom. One year later I switched to the aggregation headed by Juan Carlos Cobián to play while customers ate and danced at the roof garden on the tenth floor of the Automóvil Club Argentino.

«From 1946 to 1954 I played uninterruptedly in the Miguel Caló orchestra -tours, recordings, everything we could do, it would take too long to mention so much job. Thereafter on Radio El Mundo I was with Manuel Buzón, Joaquín Do Reyes, with Antonio Ríos accompanying the singer Roberto Rufino, with Mario Canaro.

«In 1956 I had my own orchestra with the singers Hugo Soler and Guillermo Páez. The following year I backed up Jorge Casal on a tour throughout the country. In 1960, I was then nearly retired, along with Alfredo De Franco, we accompanied Alberto Morán and, finally, with the quartet led by Armando Baliotti we backed another singer, this time, Héctor Pacheco. It has been a whole life devoted to violin and tango, a passion which was my profession».

Published in Tango y Lunfardo Nº 30, October 1987.