Roberto Inglez (born Robert Inglis,Elgin, Morayshire,29th June 1913 - died 4th September 1978.Santiago, Chile)
Robert displayed early proficiency on the piano, and by the age of 15 was leading his own dance band, reputedly earning £10 a week in the process. It was hardly surprising therefore that music won out over attempts to point him towards a career as a dental technician. By the mid-thirties he was leading a semi-pro five piece band which supplied the music for dancing at a roadhouse called The Oakwood, two miles out of Elgin on the Inverness road. In 1935 they won the Melody Maker Dance Band competition for the North East of Scotland, and he took the prize for best musician. His band were called the Melodymakers, which title may well have originated from their triumph. It seems also to have encouraged him to head south, leaving the band in the lurch – minus not only pianist but also transport.
In 1937, studying at the Royal Academy of Music, he met Edmundo Ros, then newly arrived in England. Subsequently Ros joined Don Marino Barreto’s Cuban Orchestra, and when he left to form his own outfit he recruited Bertie (as he was then known) as the pianist. Edmundo suggested that being the only British player in the group, he should adopt a Spanish persona by the simple expedient of adding one letter and altering two others. Ros opened on 8th August 1940 at the Cosmo Club in Wardour Street, but his music proved such a draw that the audience outgrew those premises. He relocated to the nearby St. Regis Club, but that was soon demolished by a German bomb, so the band kept moving!
Roberto was ambitious, and within a relatively short space of time he left to form his own small group, somewhat to Edmundo’s consternation. In early 1944 he was involved with Paul Adam (a well-known society bandleader) in taking over at the Milroy Club while Harry Roy took his own band off on an extended tour. According to the Radio Times, in 1945 he was playing at the Berkeley Hotel, part of the Savoy chain. The band began broadcasting regularly on the BBC, and in 1946 he secured a residency at the Savoy Hotel itself, which was the domain of that doyen of the keyboard, Carroll Gibbons.
He began recording in late 1945, using an augmented line-up, and his records were issued in England by Parlophone, and on the associated Odeon label in Spain and South America. Overseas sales figures were sensational (one release was said to have sold 10,000 per day) thereby confirming the authenticity of his interpretation of the Latin-American idiom. Not that he was confined to it, and in 1950 he accompanied Steve Conway on six sides that were recorded for Columbia.
"The Melody Maker" was a composition written by Noel Gay, and it was the natural sobriquet for Roberto Inglez, who subsequently adopted it as his signature tune. In August 1952 the Melody Maker magazine informed its readers that following repeated approaches from a Brazilian impresario, Roberto Inglez had agreed to visit that country and lead a 30-piece local orchestra. The fact that he would receive a net fee of £1,000 per week net of Brazilian tax and xpenses seems to have clinched the deal. The tour began on September 11th, and they played for four weeks in Rio at the Casablanca nightclub, followed by two weeks at the Hotel Lord in San Paulo, with broadcasts from both venues by the local radio stations.
That trip was a resounding success, and he returned to England in triumph. Later that year one of Brazil’s most popular female singers, Dalva de Oliviera, came to London and undertook a two-week engagement at the Savoy, backed by his band. They also recorded seventeen titles together, thirteen of which were released in Brazil, including the Christmas song "Noite de Natal" (Silent Night).
Given that he seemed at the peak of his career, there was something of a mystery about his abrupt decision to sever his connection with the Savoy Hotel in early 1954. Carroll Gibbons was ill at the time and he died in May, added to which there were problems with the Musicians Union. The deciding factor was probably rather more personal, because he had met and married Patricia Palma, a Chilean who worked at the American Embassy in London. In any case, it was to her home country that they emigrated in March 1954.
There he styled himself as Roberto Inglez y sua Orchestra Romanza, and featured a vocal sextette known as the Choro Brasileirinho. He broadcast regularly and toured the sub-continent, but did very little more in the way of recording. He also undertook a year-long tour of the USA, which included an engagement at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (whose resident bandleader for many years was Xavier Cugat) and gave a concert at the Pasapoga Hall in Madrid in 1956.
Roberto Inglez believed that the Scots had a natural affinity with Latin-American rhythms. That may well be because many of the crews of the defeated Spanish Armada were shipwrecked on the north-west coast of Scotland after Philip the Second’s fleet was scattered in the English Channel in 1588. Certainly his dark good looks could well have attested to a Latin ancestry. If so, he found his roots both in the music he produced and in his choice of Santiago as his home, where he died on 4th September 1978. (info from Memory Lane)