Pianist and composer; Nickname: Gallego; In 1890, in the early days of tango and still in the period of struggle for reaching a definitive form, several figures that in a short time, fifteen or twenty years, had an outstanding importance in the later development of our music were born. Of all those names we choose José Martínez, a name of a truly remarkable importance.
This musician was known in the milieu with the nickname of "El Gallego", about which he used to say: «That is ridiculous, I am porteño. I have a Spanish family name but my parents, my grandparents and great-grandparents were Argentine».
He attended up to the third year of high school. For three years he worked in a notary's office. Parallel to that, because he was self-taught, he practiced piano at the place of some friends of his despite he had no previous music instruction.
He entered tango through the main hall in 1911 when as pianist he joined the trio comprised by Augusto Pedro Berto (bandoneon) and Julio Doutry (violin). They played for six months at a café on Centroamérica Street (today Pueyrredón).
According to what he told Héctor Bates in an interview made in 1934, they switched later to a café known as 'De los loros' (Parrots') located on Corrientes and Medrano, so called because most of its patrons were drivers and ticket collectors in the famous Lacroze streetcars which were green. They had a tenure that lasted one year there. From there they switched to the 'Castilla' café and added the flutist Vicente Pesce (called 'tano' Vicente) to the group, so becoming a quartet.
Thereafter they came back to the 'De los loros' café but now with Francisco Canaro as violinist, because Doutry had split with their outfit. After working together for a time, Canaro joined Vicente Greco and Doutry rejoined the quartet.
José Martínez was member as well of the renowned 'Quinteto Augusto' that Berto led and which included the flutist Luis Teisseire. They recorded for Atlanta records (1914).
Another venue where they worked until 1916 was the 'Canessa' café of Corrientes and Montevideo and, since then Martínez changed his way of working for a living.
Here we have to highlight something very important for this portrayal: Eduardo Arolas, the one capable of playing weeping sounds in a bandoneon, called him to replace no less than Agustín Bardi in his group to play at the 'Royal' cabaret which later became the 'Tabarís'.
Six months later he decided to withdraw from the music business, tired of that activity. He worked in Bunge & Born as cereal receiver but when the harvest ended, he could not resist the spell of music and returned to tango.
He put together a trio in which he played piano, Osvaldo Fresedo was on bandoneon and Rafael Rinaldi on violin. Those were hard times and they had to play for a popular pot located in the neighborhood of Once, Viamonte and Larrea, where they were paid 10 cents for each piece. The experience lasted eight months.
Then a gig at the 'Montmartre' cabaret of Corrientes Street sprang up, so the Martínez-Canaro quartet was born by adding Canaro to the trio. When the engagement finished, Canaro formed his orchestra. With the latter they returned to the 'Royal' cabaret where they had a five-year tenure.
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