José García: (1910 – 2000)
Jose grew up in his hometown of Buenos Aires; Barracas. He began playing instruments at an early age – the piano, violin and bandoneon. He never intended to be the leader of a tango orchestra, although that’s exactly what he became.
He studied music at the Conservatorio Nacional where he was taught by some of the most famous musicians of his time, with the intention of becoming a violinist. He was strongly influenced by composers such as Schubert, Beethoven and Gounod.
Once Jose completed his studies, he founded a college for music in Lanus in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. His enthusiasm was absorbed and reflected through his young students, who later convinced him to form an infant orchestra – which originally performed for radio stations and then grew into Los Zorros Grises.
The start of the Greys…
In 1930, the theatre began to take Buenos Aires by storm, causing radio stations to struggle. Jose realised this and began teaching his students in a way better suited to the stage. He helped them to put together an orchestra for the stage, which performed at the San Martin Theatre.
Grey flannel suits were the cheapest to buy at the time of the orchestra’s opening night, at just under 30 pesos, so that’s the extent of the thought that went into their image! They were soon referred to as Los Grises (the greys). They accepted it to start with but Jose soon changed their name to Zorros (foxes). They combined the two by using Zorro Gris (grey fox) as their introductory theme tune.
There were 15 musicians in total, including Jose who initially played the violin but later only conducted. The orchestra were very well disciplined, which paid off as they proved to be strong competition for some of the biggest orchestras of their time.
A very distinct style and beat
The music itself always had a very distinct beat, making it ideal for tango, corridos, rhumbas, boleros and marches. The orchestra was so diverse that it acquired an extremely wide range of listeners and fans, boosting their popularity and success.
Between 1942 and 1945, the orchestra recorded 40 songs with Odeon. The most famous and successful in popularity and finance was El Mentiroso; a corrido song. In 1950, Jose retired and typically of great composers; disappeared into the crowd. Colombia and Chile never failed to appreciate his talents however, and his popularity is growing again today amongst tango enthusiasts.
Jose also enjoyed artistic painting although he desired a career in music, so he kept his painting as a hidden hobby.