Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Juan José Paz

By Abel Palermo (from Todo Tango)

Pianist, leader, composer and arranger
(7 September, 1921 - 17 January, 1970)
True name: Juan José Abbondanza

He was a pianist with the rhythmical tango school of the greats, with a good orchestral sense besides his capabilities as soloist. He made his debut at age 16 on Radio Argentina and from 1940 to 1942 he played in the orchestra led by Miguel Zabala "Zabalita" whose vocalist was Carlos Casares.

In 1943 he was summoned by Emilio Balcarce to join the brilliant orchestra that backed Alberto Castillo in his premiere as soloist. On December 7, 1943 they recorded the tango "Manoblanca" and the waltz "Luna de arrabal" for the Odeon record label.

The team Castillo-Balcarce recorded 20 pieces, and the work carried out by Paz on piano and Julio Ahumada as lead bandoneon was of the greatest importance.

But the stage in which he would demonstrate all his musical capacity would take place between 1945 and 1954, in the unforgettable Francini-Pontier orchestra lined up by Ángel Domínguez, Nicolás Parracino, Juan Salamone on bandoneons; Pedro Samartino, Aquiles Aguilar and Mario Lalli on violins; on cello, Adriano Fanelli and Rafael del Bagno on double bass. The leaders Enrique Mario Francini and Armando Pontier played as well violin and bandoneon respectively and the arrangements were written by Argentino Galván.

On November 10, 1952 he was invited by the record company Pampa to lead an orchestra to accompany the singer Alberto Podestá for the recording of the tangos "Alma de bohemio" and "En el olvido". The latter composed by Andrés Falgás with lyrics by José María Contursi.

In the late 1955 the orchestra was dismembered and tango suffered the disappearance -according to my opinion- of one of the most important aggregations in its history. After that each one of the leaders formed his own orchestra and on November 3, 1955 Francini with his orchestra recorded for RCA-Victor the Eduardo Arolas' tango "La trilla" as an instrumental, and with Podestá on vocals, "Petit salón" written by Vicente Demarco and Silvio Marinucci. Paz was the piano player and the arranger, while the other members were musicians of a remarkable level: Julio Ahumada, Alfredo Marcucci, Marcelo Yopolo, Victor Lavallén, Dino Saluzzi, on bandoneons; Francini, José Amatraián, Emilio González, Enrique Rodríguez, Mauricio Marcelli and Alfredo Terré, on violins; José Bragato on cello and on the double bass, Rafael del Bagno. The arrangements for the numbers sung by Roberto Rufino are excellent: "Melodía oriental" and "Espérame en el cielo".

In the mid- 1959 the orchestra was disbanded and our pianist is again summoned by the Pampas label, this time, to lead an orchestra to back the female singer Elsa Rivas in her recordings.

Two years later he joined, in his double role as pianist and arranger, the Joaquín Do Reyes Orchestra. In 1962 he temporarily replaced maestro Horacio Salgán in the Quinteto Real.

In 1963 he joined the staff orchestra of Radio Splendid conducted by maestro Ángel Domínguez. Later he led the group that accompanied the singer Miguel Montero for a rather long time.

In 1968 he appeared at the café-concert La Calle with a quartet lined up by the bandoneonist Antonio Marchese, the guitarist Héctor Davis and Pablo Piazza on bass.

He was not a composer of big hits but he wrote good pieces: the most well-known were "A mí no me hablen de tango", with lyrics by José María Contursi; "No matarás", with Eugenio Majul; "Los días pasarán", with Carlos Bahr; "Calesita de barrio" and the waltz "Cerraste los ojos", with José Otero and the instrumentals "A pedido" and the milonga "Tamborilera."

Regrettably, at age 49, he died of a heart attack when he was working in the summer season in the city of Mar del Plata. So was gone this great friend, loved and admired by all his fellow musicians and those that were lucky to know him.

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