Monday, February 20, 2017

Oscar Alemán - Live Audio, October 1941

Oscar Alemán on stage
Let us remember the public debut of Oscar Alemán The Master of Jazz Guitar in Argentina on this special day, the 108th anniversary of el Maestro. The event took place at Teatro Casino in Buenos Aires on October 14, 1941. A special concert had been arranged and luckily there were made some test recordings of the show by the Ayacucho label. 
Discos Ayacucho label
According to info in Sergio Pujol's book La guitarra embrujada, Alemán's setlist included solo performance of Sussurando/Whispering and St. Louis Blues to introduce the show. Then were performed Hombre Mio, Tengo Ritmo, Bye Bye Blues and Oscarinadas in a quartet setting - participating musicians besides Alemán are unknown. As mentioned, audio takes of the show were made, unfortunately the technical quality of the audio is rather bad. But as these saved (test-)recordings represent the debut of Oscar Alemán in Argentina after his return from Europe, they are definitly worth preserving both as a historical document and as an early example of Alemán's live stage performance, even before his association with Radio Belgrano and the debut of his first Quinteto de Swing. - From the concert, here is the saved audio of Hombre Mio - notice the medium tempo and the extended solo playing, i.e. compared to the first recording for Odeon, June 2nd 1942


The second take available from the concert is a version of Tengo Ritmo, again in a quartet setting and with extended soloing by Alemán. In this version of the tune, which was to become part of his standard repertoire, Alemán contributes some of his fastest solo playing - enjoy it here

The Ayachucho recordings were not intended for commercial release. On the contrary, they were test recordings in a format (33 rpm), which at the time is likely to be used as promotional material in relation to radio and record companies. There is not much info to retrieve from the available sources. But I owe it to mention here that the audio in the two videos above and also in a similar live recording of the Saint Louis Blues used recently in another blog post was kindly made available from my Argentine friend, Andrés 'Tito' Liber. He in his turn has the audio files from a cassette tape copy by the Norwegian jazz critic Jan Evensmo. On this background, one might say that the saved music has found a new stop in and with this blog post.
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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Svend Asmussen (1916 - 2017)

Svend Asmussen (photo courtesy Ida Munch)

Yesterday the media released the sad news that world famous Danish jazz violinist Svend Asmussen has passed away. A true legend and a giant of the jazz violin has left the scene and leaves the jazz world an irreplaceable loss for those jazz fans with a long memory and an enthusiastic interest in the original string jazz as played by one of the pioneers of this branch of jazz.


In 1971 Oscar Alemán wrote a letter to the editor of the Dutch Doctor Jazz Magazine and remembered Svend Asmussen, quote:

"Svend Asmussen – in my opinion, the greatest thing I’ve ever heard in jazz in my whole life".

Svend Asmussen (28.2 1916 - 7.2 2017) R.I.P.
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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Brief History of "String Jazz" in Argentina by Andrés “Tito” Liber

Oscar Alemán on stage
The genial Argentine guitarist Oscar Alemán, by then having great success in Europe, brought in his comeback to Argentina in 1941 the idea of a combo in the style of the Quintet of Hot Club de France - a kind of chamber jazz ensemble formed by a lead guitar, rhythm guitar, violin, double bass and drums. As you can see, Alemán replaced the traditional third guitar by a drum set.
Alemán with his Quinteto de Swing 1942
In fact, Oscar Alemán´s Quinteto de Swing (1941-1942) would be a first step in South American string jazz history. They had the characteristic of playing fast, energetically, with great rhythm and swing, highlighting the skills of the soloists. A music ready for dancing. In this kind of group, the guitar player took a leading role, something that didn´t happen in the big bands or the tango orchestras, because the volume of the other instruments ‘drowned’ the sound of the guitar. Moreover, Oscar brought an uncommon aesthetics of dance and show in live performances. The group authoritatively recreated the style of the Hot Club thanks to the team Alemán / violinist Hernán Oliva. The members were: Oscar Alemán (guitar); Hernán Oliva (violin); Darío Quaglia (rhythm guitar); Andrés Álvarez (doublebass); Ramón M. Caravaca (drums).
Bertolin - Washington Garcia
Following that line, in 1943 a very particular sextet was formed: the Washington-BertolínSextet. The members were: Martín Washington García (guitar), Osvaldo “Bertolín” Bertone (accordion), César Bo (lead guitar), Juan Antonio Barraza (guitar), Dalverme (double bass) and Pepe García (drums). They played jazz, tango, Brazilian music, a.o. Their sound was very similar to the French musette groups. Listen to Bailando el ritmo ágil in the inserted You Tube video below.


In 1944, appeared another great ensemble: Louis Vola´s Quintet (more info, here). The double bass player Louis Vola, an original member of the Quintet of Hot Club de France, had arrived in Argentina as a member of the Ray Ventura Orchestra. Ventura brought excellent musicians, who remained in that South American country till 1945, safe from WW 2. They were: the guitarists Henry Salvador and Hubert Giraud (composer of the famous song “Sous le ciel de París”), the trumpeter Eugene D´Helemmes (friend of Alemán, he would be the arranger of his quintet), the singer Micheline Day and the mentioned Louis Vola. Vola’s quintet was: Louis Vola (doublebass); Hernán Oliva (v); Henry Salvador/Luis Silva (lead guitar); Milton Musco (rhythm guitar), A. Rivera/Héctor Condro (rhythm guitar). - It is to mention that Oliva had left the Quintet of Alemán after a quarrell with the guitarist. It was obvious that two geniuses couldn´t be in the same place. - Remarkable was the participation of the Chilean guitarist Luis Silva, who had already founded the Quinteto Swing Hot de Chile (with Hernán Oliva too). Listen to El paso del tigre in the inserted You Tube video below.


A very important work was done by the guitarist Jorge Lagos, who in the decade of the 1950s had been living with the French gitans in París, learning there to play jazz manouche. There he had the opportunity of knowing Eugene Vées and Django Reinhardt in person. Back in Argentina, he brought luthier Sergio Repiso a Selmer guitar; the master copied it and began to produce his excellent replicas.
Jorge Lagos (right) and Eugene Vées
Lagos formed the group Jorge Lagos y sus Hot Four with Alfonso Ferramosca (cl), Abel Lescano (rhythm g.), Jorge Boetto (db) and the drummer Jorge Cichero or Jorge Padin.
Listen to Jorge Lagos y sus Hot Four at You Tube, here 
Ubaldo de Lio
In the middle of the 1950s an incredible quintet made some records: Ubaldo de Lío y sus reyes del hot; the musicians were Lalo Schiffrin (p), Hernán Oliva (v), Guillermo Barbieri (g), a bassist and De Lío himself in mandolín. (I wonder who has those records!!)
The Blue Strings
At the end of the 1960s we have the Blue Strings: Héctor López Furst (v), Rubén Baby López Furst (lead g), Bernardo Birenbaum (rhythm g), Enrique Gutiérrez de León (db). – Listen to the Blue Strings at You Tube, here 
Swing'39 group
At the beginning of the 1970s Argentina had a "trad-craze" with two supergroups.The world-known and succesfull Walter Malosetti`s  Swing 39. They recorded 6 álbums!! The musicians were: Walter Malosetti (g), Ricardo Pellican and Marcelo Buscio (rhythm g.), Héctor Basso (db), Carlos Acosta (cl); when Buscio and Carlos Acosta left the group in 1978, then etered the violinist Héctor López Furst.
Quinteto Hernán Oliva
In 1972 we have the mythical Quinteto Hernán Oliva. The guitarists were Eduardo “Zurdo” Ravera (as soloist) and Carlos “Chachi” Zaragoza (rhythm guitar), the latter had been disciple and friend of Oscar Alemán. Oliva´s quintet recorded 6 LPs and made many gigs along the country. The members (between 1973-1976) were: Hernán Oliva (v.), Eduardo Ravera (g.), Carlos Zaragoza (rhythm g.), Adrián Macri/Guillermo Espinase/Enrique Andreola (rhythm g.), Claudio Rapoport/Jorge Parera/Norberto Quinteros/Quique Gutiérrez de León (db) - Listen to the Quinteto Hernán Oliva’s debut album for Redondel, 1972 at You Tube, here 
Hot Club de Boedo
After a hiatus of decades of this jazz-style, we finally arrive to the XXIst Century and the appearence of the Hot Club de Boedo. This is not only a group but also a cultural project founded and directed by the guitarist Waldo Fonseca (a direct disciple of Eduardo Ravera). In its very particular way of playing jazz, named “national string jazz”, the sextet is formed by 3 spanish guitars (electro-amplified), clarinet, drums, electric-bass, plus a singer, and occasionally a violin. The most virtuous formation had been constituted by: Waldo Fonseca (lead guitar and direction); Heldo Fonseca (cl); Ramiro Miranda (v); Leandro Chapuis (crooner); Facundo López Goitía (g); Martín López Goitía (g); Ezequiel Bahillo (g); Julián Pierángeli (bass); Juan Masculino (drums).


I myself collaborate with the Hot Club de Boedo with my disc collection and my limited musical knowledge. 

Andrés ‘Tito’ Liber
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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year - Feliz Año Nuevo!

I want to thank readers of the blog for your support and interest in Oscar Alemán and the contributions available here during the past ten years. The goal of the work presented at the blog has always been to publish research which may broaden our knowledge about and support the interest in factual information about Oscar Alemán in order to save his name and legacy from oblivion and spread the word to new generations of sincere followers. I do hope that this work initiated by the founder of the online Oscar Alemán discography and this blog, Hans Koert (1951-2014), has succeeded so far. And I also hope to continue the blog in the new year following the direction appointed so far. A Happy New Year 2017 to friends and followers of the blog!

Now, let's celebrate the New Year -  el Maestro will help you to find the right spirit, I am convinced



New Year's evening and night should be celebrated wearing your nicest clothing - ladies,take an advice from el Maestro



We will let a young, talented musician repeat the song in an updated version which I'm convinced el Mestro would have approved - enjoy this version of O vestido do bolero by Josh Turner and may your happiness increase in 2017!


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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Monday, December 12, 2016

Night And Day - Noche Y Día

Original sheet music front (1932)
Night And Day is a popular song by Cole Porter. It was written for the 1932 musical play Gay Divorce. It is perhaps Porter's most popular contribution to the Great American Songbook and has been recorded by dozens of artists. Fred Astaire introduced Night And Day on stage, and his recording of the song with the Leo Reisman orchestra was a no.1 hit, topping the charts of the day for ten weeks. 
Original film poster (1934)
Fred Astaire performed Night And Day again in the 1934 film version of the show, renamed The Gay Divorcee, and it became one of his signature pieces.
Original film poster (1946)
Night And Day was so associated with Cole Porter, that when Hollywood first filmed his life story in 1946, the movie was entitled Night and Day.

The musical structure of Night and Day is unusual for a hit song of the 1930s. Most popular tunes then featured 32-bar choruses, divided into four 8-bar sections, usually with an AABA musical structure, the B section representing the bridge. Porter's song, on the other hand, has a chorus of 48 bars, divided into six sections of eight bars—ABABCB—with section C representing the bridge. (info above excerpted from Wikipedia, here ).

As mentioned, Night And Day has been recorded by numerous artists, both as an instrumental and with Porter's lyrics by various vocalists. I prefer various instrumental versions of the song, and one of my all time favorite instrumental recordings of Night And Day was recorded by Oscar Alemán y su Orquesta de Jazz for Odeon (Odeon 74265, mx 20199) as Noche Y Día on May 30, 1955. The guitar solo (- of 80 bars, partly with ensemble) belongs to one of Alemán's superior contributions, a marvellous interpretation of a romantic ballad played as a fox-trot in medium tempo artistically at the same high level as his version of Stardust (Polvo de estrellas) with the Quinteto de Swing from October 1944. - Enjoy Alemán's Night And Day/Noche Y Día here

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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Oscar Alemán And The Blues

Original sheet music (1914)
It has been said that Oscar Alemán never was a 'blues man',  implying that his concept of jazz did not include the Afro-American music genre known as 'blues', an important source in the original versions of jazz rooted in New Orleans' music culture and practice. However, the statement should be modified, if 'the blues' is not just the musical style that originated in the Southern states of USA around 1900 and was performed by amateurs and local pick-up ensemples at social events in mainly black Afro-American societies long before the music spread to other parts of the country via radio networks and 'race' records. Innovative tunesmiths and music publishers like W.C. Handy (1873-1958), known as 'father of the blues', were soon aware of the commercial opportunities of the blues and took advantage of the music by publishing their own versions of blues as sheet music which became popular hits with the public even before WW 1. W.C. Handy's Saint Louis Blues (published 1914) was among his most popular songs and was quickly adopted by the mainstream music business as an example of the original version of the blues style. Countless musicians and jazz bands have since incorporated Saint Louis Blues in their repertoire and the tune is a fundamental part of the jazz standard book, still performed today by traditional jazz orchestras. 
Alemán performing St. Louis Blues
It is from the tradition paved by W.C. Handy Aleman´s concept of the blues  originates, I think. Fact is that the mentioned Saint Louis Blues was a part of Alemán's repertoire throughout his career in Argentina from 1940 and on. Already at one of his first public performances after his return to Argentina from Europe, Saint Louis Blues is presented and elaborated as a great vehicle for his improvisational skills both as a musician and entertainer. Luckily, a test recording from this live performance October 14, 1941 at Teatro Casino in Buenos Aires has been saved and documents Alemán's rousing and roof raising version of Saint Louis Blues as a solo piece of improvised music for guitar, vocal and stomping feet! The audio of this performance was kindly forwarded by Andrés 'Tito' Liber and is inserted below


Alemán recorded Saint Louis Blues commercially twice, the first version was recorded by Odeon January 30 1953 featuring Alemán's Orquesta de Jazz (mx 18802, Odeon 55613 and LDS119). The tune is here a great vehicle for his improvisational skills as a guitar player in the applied solos.


The next time Alemán recorded Saint Louis Blues was in May 1973 at the session for the Redondel label with Jorge Anders' orchestra issued on Redondel SL-10511. This version has also been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below


Alemán composed and recorded two tunes which were titled Oscar Blues No. 1 and Oscar Blues No. 3, both recorded for Redondel - the first mentioned on Redondel L-809 made September 1974, the other was issued on the Alemán '72 LP (Redondel, SL 10.508) recorded Sept.-Oct. 1972. Both tunes are solo pieces for guitar, here is Oscar Blues No. 3 inserted below


Collectors of Alemán's output may have wondered, if there also exists a tune titled Oscar Blues No. 2 although never recorded officially. I don't have the answer to that question, but instead like to point to a saved untitled home-recording from c. 1971 in much the same style and mood as the two known pieces titled Oscar Blues. Thus, below is inserted a possible Oscar Blues No. 2 to end this

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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Sunday, October 02, 2016

3° Encuentro de Jazz de Cuerdas "Oscar Alemán"

Program front
For the third time, Hot Club de Boedo of Buenos Aires has arranged an encounter of musicians, friends and fans of Oscar Alemán's musical heritage. This time the program was a homage to Alemán's pupil and great admirer, Eduardo Ravera, commemorating the 20th anniversary of his passing away. The event took place at the Asociación de Fomento y Biblioteca Popular General Alvear in Buenos Aires on September 17th. - Andrés 'Tito' Liber forwarded some impressions to share with readers of this blog.
Program menu
The show was hosted by Waldo Fonseca, the director of Hot Club de Boedo. The following musicians and friends participated in the show:
Hot Club de Boedo (Waldo Fonseca, Juan Masculino, Julián Pierángeli, Facundo López Goitía, Ezeqiel Bahillo); Luis Pranzetti (guitar), Mariana Gasloli (bass), Claudio Spirito (guitar), Gustavo Villanueva (clarinet); Carla Rossi (harmonica) and Gerardo Bourlot (guitar) from Ensamble Colón; Andrés 'Tito' Liber (cavaquinho); Héctor Luis Corpus (guitar), Claudio Daniel Crespino (guitar); Luana Hari (lady-crooner). Comments by José María Bover.
In advance of the show the event was promoted at Radio del Pueblo, BA. A photo was shot in the studio showing the presence of Andrés 'Tito' Liber, Heldo and Waldo Fonseca
'Tito', Heldo and Waldo promoting the show at Radio del Pueblo, BA
Highlights of the show were the musical performance of the following:
My Melancholy Baby. A great solo by master Luis Pranzetti, the guitarist  who played in the Santa María Jazz band and accompanied Eduardo Ravera.
Summertime. Played by a nice duet, from the Ensemble Colón, of harmonica and guitar; interesting counterpoint with a bluesy tinge.
OA 1926. For the first time in Argentina, since the old days of Oscar Alemán, a man playing jazz live on a cavaquinho.
It Don`t Mean a Thing if It Ain`t Got That Swing.  The boys of the Hot Club de Boedo, wonderful as ever with this Ellington standard.
When the Saints Go Marchin` in. At the end of the show, a classic sing-along with the audience.
Participating musicians all together in performance
Another group photo of participating performers of a swinging night. Always smiling!
The team
Andrés 'Tito' Liber, September 2016
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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com