Here I am, talking about somebody that I have not had the fortune of finding in my life. When Alfredo (forgive me for calling him like this, but I feel it this way) left in a tour, I was eight years old and I didn’t have a clue of the importance of that man who was leaving.
My heart will speak more than my intellect, because I believe that we will end up understanding the exact dimension through the heart with the invaluable collaboration of the intellect.
It was Piazzolla the one that opened a communication with the youths that was concluded many years ago. What is important here are not the considerations or discussions about what was right or wrong. What is important here is that this phenomenon took place from Piazzolla. It was a problem in the attitude towards life and art. You may be thinking what this has to do with Alfredo Gobbi. And let me tell you that it has to.
The first pieces of news I had of Alfredo Gobbi´s existence came from the lips of Astor Piazzolla. Towards 1978, having several years listening to Piazzolla’s pieces of work, I had the fortune of being in the right place at the right time. Piazzolla’s return to the country and the formation of a new quintet.
Something that called my attention was that Piazzolla, instead of talking about Gerry Mulligan or Gary Burton, Miles Davis or Gil Evans, spoke religiously about Alfredo Gobbi. He did this privately, not in public. These were not declarations in a report.
There, I began to wonder who was that artist revered by Piazzolla. Then, I discovered that Osvaldo Pugliese and Anibal Troilo also named him as the musician of the ideal tango.
60 years ago, in 1942, Alfredo Gobbi made his first appearance with his first orchestra and this surely is a landmark in the “tango” history and also in the rioplatense culture.
His personality allowed him to stand out over what he brought on his back: son of one of the tango patriarches, Angel Villoldo´s godson, son of the singer Flora Rodriguez and engendered in the middle of a true “tanguera” family in Paris (May, 14th, 1912).
It seems that as a boy, he began to spread sounds out of a harmonium and at the primary he began to study piano. He sold newspapers in his neighbourhood, Villa Ortuzar. At the age of ten, his father gave him his first violin and he began to study at the Falconi Conservatory on Canning and Santa Fe Street. At the age of thirteen, he had already integrated his first group and when he was fifteen he composed his first tango: ‘ Perro fiel’. Around that time, at the age of 26 or 27, he had already begun listening to Julio De Caro´s sextet. This revolutionary group was one of his big influences in the history of the twentieth century popular music.
Some time later, he stopped selling newspapers and he took a place in Antonio Lozzi´s orchestra. Later, he joined Juan Maglio Pacho, Firpo, Tirigall, Buzon , Aieta, Pardo, Avile, Rodio. With Pardo he performed his tango ‘ Desvelo’.
In 1929, he abandoned the violin for a while and played the piano in “Metropol” matineés . The following year, another fundamental landmark took place. He formed a trio with his beloved friend, the pianist Orlando Goñi and the concertina player Domingo Triguero. He also entered the sextet of the violinist Vardaro and the pianist Pugliese.
Later, Gobbi entered Manuel Buzon´s orchestra where Orlando Goñi and Jaime Gosis were pianists. When Buzon leaves, he forms another unforgettable sextet with Anibal Troilo and Alfredo Attadia in concertinas, Jose Goñi in the second violin and Agustin Furchi in double bass. Later on, the duet with Osvaldo Pugliese, Laurenz´s orchestra, Do Reyes´, Balliot´s and the one from Pintin Castellanos in Montevideo would come.
In this way, 1942 comes and also the formation of his first orchestra to make its first appearance in Sans Souci cabaret on Corrientes Street. There, they were together with Alfredo, Bernardo Hermino and Antonio Blanco in violins, Juan Olivero Pro in piano, Deolindo Casaux, Toto D´Amario, Mario Demarco and Ernesto Tito Rodriguez in concertinas, Juan Jose Fantin in double bass and the singers Walter Cabral and Pablo Lozano.
In 1945, they make their first appearance in El Mundo”Radio and not until the ´47 they begin to record (May, 16th 1947) with Vicente Greco´s “La Viruta” and “La Entrerriana” waltz, of his father, sung by a duet integrated by Carlos Heredia and Hugo Soler.
I suppose that in his first orchestra he had the sound that later stays in his recordings. I believe that Gobbi´s style is so particular that even the ones that have studied it cannot define it in a clear way.
We have already said he is a “decareano”; however, he is not mimetic with De Caro the way Osvaldo Pugliese is. The piano is the one which leads from the buzzing marking invented in a boheme night with Orlando Goñi. It has a small vibrato and an expressive “portamento” in the violin.
An academic structured kind of music but with an “orillera” sensitivity. I think that here is where the origin that phrase I chose as a borrowed title from somebody to this text comes from: “the last tango issue with a disheveled hair, that sound followed, in spite of some evolutioned premises having that characteristic stinginess. Somebody said that if Gobbi´s orchestra was a jazz it would have swing, that´s why I propose that this term should be “Canyengue”. That this stinginess was called Canyengue.
Alfredo Gobbi has left a piece of art which still is not valued more than small cenacles. I am carrying out a brilliant synthesis which is unique in the genre history; he has been an evolutionist in the most perfect orthodoxy. A sweet and gentle but never sugary sound, an impeccable rhythmic marking but always delicate in his orchestra.
This equilibrium between antagonistic principles has been the mysticism that Gobbi consumed in his life
His work as a composer embraces many expressions from the most refined instrumental tango. A rare synthesis that combines tango romanza Cavilando, type of tangos with strong personnality like Alfredo Goñi, milongueros such as Camandulaje, evocatives such as El Andariego.
I believe that because of his nature, Alfredo Gobbi has given the most of his art without undermining but also without renouncing anything. He has done his duty. He has, like all those loosers, succeeded in the most convincing and impressive way: his art keeps on touching us deeply and teaching us the way, the one that Alfredo discovered with his music.