Saturday, May 05, 2018

Limehouse Blues - Alemán's 1938 Solo Transcribed

Original sheet (Wikipedia)
Limehouse Blues was composed 1922 by Philip Braham and had lyrics by Douglas Furber. The song soon became popular after having its debut in a 1924 Broadway show, countless artists and musicians have since added Limehouse Blues to their standard repertoire. The instrumental version of the song occurs to have been the most enduring, here I'll focus on Oscar Alemán's great recording of the tune December 1938 from the famous Danish jamsession featuring Henry Hagemann (cl,ts), Svend Asmussen (vln), Oscar Aleman (g solo), Helge Jacobsen (g) Alfred Rasmussen (b) Bibi Miranda (d) 

Recently the Seattle-based guitarist and composer Greg Ruby has initiated a project devoted to transcribing music recorded by Oscar Alemán. His first published transcription is the solo played by Alemán in the 1938 version of Limehouse Blues shown above. A video was recorded to show it played by Greg Ruby

According to Greg Ruby's website, the Oscar Alemán project will be expanding "... to include more solos, more arrangements and everything Oscar Aleman for bandleaders, guitar players and music lovers to use and appreciate." Learn more and sign up for the newsletter at Greg's website, if this project has caught your interest. More info about The Oscar Alemán play-along book, here


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Honeysuckle Rose - Rosa Madreselva

Original sheet music front
Honeysuckle Rose was introduced as a dance number in the 1929 revue, Load of Coal, at Connie’s Inn in Harlem by its composer, Thomas “Fats” Waller. Honeysuckle Rose and Ain’t Misbehavin’, also written that year for the musical revue Hot Chocolates, would become the two most enduring compositions born of the longtime collaboration of Waller and lyricist Andy Razaf.
Fats Waller at the keyboard
Fats Waller recorded Honeysuckle Rose with his Rhythm in 1934 and as a solo piano piece without singing in 1937, in 1941 a Minoco Production soundie also featured Fats Waller's performance of the tune - inserted below from YouTube

During the 1930s and 1940s Honeysuckle Rose became part of the standard repertoire of both jazz orchestras and popular artists and further one of the most often recorded tunes. On this day - the 109th birthday of Oscar Alemán - I'll focus on three recorded versions by El Maestro.

Odeon 46013 A (1946)
Alemán recorded his first version of Honeysuckle Rose/Rosa Madreselva with his 2nd Quinteto de Swing on October 26, 1944 for Odeon in Buenos Aires issued at the disc shown above. The tune was recorded at the same session as the orchestra's version of Stardust (Polvo de estrallas), personnel in both tunes included  Oscar Aleman (g solo); Manuel Gavinovich (vln); Charles Wilson (p); Guillermo Barbieri (g); Luis Gavinovich (b) and Ramon M. Caravaca (d). The recording of Honeysuckle Rose from this session is a great example of Alemán and his bandmembers inspired and swinging issue of hot jazz at its best, I think

Alemán kept Honeysuckle Rose/Rosa Madreselva as part of his repertoire throughout his career, several unissued recordings of radio performances by Alemán and his Cinco Caballeros from the 1960s include versions of the tune - an example from c. 1965, probably an airshot from a program at Radio el Mundo in Buenos Aires is inserted below to illustrate a slightly different rendition of the tune compared to the 1944 take

Alemán recorded Honeysuckle Rose/Rosa Madreselva again in 1972 for the LP album Alemán '72 released by the Redondel label (Redondel, SL-10508). Another commercial issue recorded c. 1965 and released on the Impacto IMP-14014 LP has a quintet version of the tune, but without Alemán (!) (- a somewhat strange choice by the producer of the album, indeed).

Alemán '72, Redondel SL-10508 (1972)
The Alemán '72 LP album was recorded September-October 1972 in Buenos Aires and featured the following personnel in Rosa Madresalva: Oscar Alemán (g solo), Dario “Johnny” Quaglia (rh g) , Walter Malosetti (rh g)  Anibal Fuentes (rh g), Jorge González (b) , Noberto Nestor Astarita (dm). The recording is the first tune at side A of the album and introduces an intimate and relaxed atmosphere presenting Alemán at his best - the album became a victorious start of his late career documenting that he had not lost any of his chops as a great guitarist. To end this, enjoy the 1972 recording of Rosa Madreselva below


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018

I wish readers of the oscar aleman blogspot a Happy New Year 2018 and thank you for your interest and support in 2017. The blog and related blogs under the keepitswinging.domain will be discontinued in 2018 due to personal matters. However, a fixed date according this step has not yet been scheduled, I'll announce more precisely later. Till then, keep coming back to keep updated. Thank you for your understanding.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bye, Bye Blues - Blues del Adios

Original sheet music
Bye Bye Blues is a popular jazz standard written by Fred Hamm, Dave Bennett, Bert Lown, and Chauncey Gray and published in 1925. Bert Lown and his Hotel Biltmore Orchestra had a hit with the band's recording of the well known tune in 1930

Numerous bands and artists have recorded their versions of Bye, Bye Blues, here's Cab Calloway and his orchestra's recording from 1940

Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing recorded Bye, Bye Blues as Blues del Adios on November 4th, 1942 for Odeon in the last session featuring the original formation of Alemán's initial quintet: Aleman (ldr,g solo); Hernán Oliva (v); Andrés Álvarez (b); Ramón M. Caravaca (d); Darío Quaglia (rh g). The recording was issued on Odeon 45826 A (- NB! credits for composer(s) of Blues del Adios are mislabeled as Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields, Johnson at the original Odeon label and in the online OA discography)
Odeon 45826 A_Blues del Adios
Here's the audio of this recording from uploaded video at You Tube

Alemán had Bye, Bye Blues as part of his setlist when performing with his Cinco Caballeros in radio and TV live shows during the 1960s, here's an example from late 1965 in a live airshot from Radio el Mundo

As mentioned above, Bye, Bye Blues is a popular standard performed by numerous bands and artists. To end this small presentation of the tune on the date of Alemán's passing away 37 years ago, I'll insert yet another version of the music as performed by a trio named O Petit Swing


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

4° Encuentro Anual de Jazz de Cuerdas “Oscar Alemán”

For the fourth time, Hot Club de Boedo of Buenos Aires has arranged an encounter of musicians, friends and fans of Oscar Alemán's musical heritage. The show took place at the General Alvear Library, Buenos Aires on September 16 hosted by Waldo Fonseca, director and guitarist of HCdB. As in the previous three shows, the hot music of the histortical Argentinian string ensembles headed by Oscar Alemán, Hernán Oliva and Eduardo Ravera was recreated and once again attended by an enthusiastic audience. Participating musicians in the show included: Claudio Spirito (g), Claudio Daniel Crespino (g), Martin Gagliardi (g), Gustavo Villanueva (alt sax), Sandra Pisani (vocals), Andrés "Tito" Liber (cavaquinho), Matias Bahillo (tp), Ramiro Miranda (v) besides the members of the Hot Club de Boedo quintet: Waldo Fonseca (direction and 1st guitar), Heldo Fonseca (cl), Facundo López Goitía (rhythm guitar), Julián Pierángeli (electric bass), Juan Masculino (dr).
Below is inserted some photo shots from the event kindly forwarded by 'Tito' Liber to share with readers of this blog.
Waldo Fonseca, Claudio Spirito and  Gustavo Villanueva

Hot Club de Boedo with trumpeter Matias Bahillo

Violinist Ramiro Miranda with the Hot Club de Boedo
Some of the standards played were: Sweet Georgia Brown, Rosetta, Bye Bye Blues and Embreaceable You with vocal by Sandra Pisani
 Claudio Daniel Crespino, Martin Gagliardi and Sandra Pisani
Andrés 'Tito' Liber performed the baion O Vestido de Bolero and Ain't She Sweet on cavaquinho solo
'Tito' Liber with his cavaquinho
Like in the previous shows, When The Saints Go Marchin' In ended the successfull show as a sing-along with the audience.
Thank you to 'Tito' Liber for the forwarded info and of course a big thank you to Waldo Fonseca and the Hot Club de Boedo for keeping the musical legacy of Oscar Alemán well alive.

Friday, September 01, 2017


Original sheet music (1928)
Ramona is a 1928 song, with lyrics written by L. Wolfe Gilbert and music by Mabel Wayne. It was created as the title song for the 1928 adventure film-romance Ramona (based on the novel Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson).
Original film poster(1928)
Ramona was recorded in 1928 for promotional appearances with Dolores del Río (star of the film) but not featured in the film itself. The film Ramona was the first United Artists film with a synchronized score, but was not a talking picture. Dolores del Río was a Mexican actress, who was the first major female Latin American crossover star in Hollywood, with a career in American films in the 1920s and 1930s. - Here is Ramona by Dolores del Rio (1928)

On record Ramona was a popular hit, usually performed as a romantic ballad, sometimes with a Latin inflection by "Whispering" Jack Smith and, in an idiosyncratic arrangement recorded on January 4th 1928, by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. The Paul Whiteman version, Victor 21214-A, featuring Bix Beiderbecke on cornet and vocal by Austin Young and Jack Fulton, was no. 1 for 3 weeks on the Billboard charts in 1928.

Other popular artists of the time such as Gene Austin and Ruth Etting a.o. also recorded Ramona and had hits with their versions, and outside the USA the song became popular thanks to the film. 

Les Loups, promo (courtesy by Erik Host)
Les Loups recorded their instrumental version of Ramona in Buenos Aires on August 30 1928 (- some sources have September 3rd or 24) for Victor, released at Victor 80950 (mx BAVE-44280-1) inserted below

Unfortunately, audio quality in the inserted video is rather noisy, but the music by Les Loups is as always delicate and well performed using the well known formula with Gastón on the hawaiian steel guitar and Oscar providing rhythm support on the conventional guitar.
The Blue Diamonds
Ramona remained popular with the public for a long time, a young generation of pop musicians in the 1960s revitalized the orignal waltz version of the song' in an upbeat version similar to rock'n'roll. The shown duo named The Blue Diamonds (a Dutch-Indonesian duo) became famous in 1960 with their version of the song, which reached the American Billboard Hot 100 at number 72 in 1960. It sold over 250,000 copies in the Netherlands (the first record to ever do so) and over one million copies in Germany by 1961.

Perhaps as a consequence of the success of Ramona in an upbeat arrangement, Oscar Alemán also featured the song this way in his live appearances with Los Cinco Caballeros during the 1960s. An example of a live performance of Ramona by Alemán and the Cinco Caballeros from a radio appearance at Radio el Mundo in 1965 has been saved and is inserted below to end this


Sunday, May 14, 2017


Odeon 45787 A - Oscarinadas
Oscar Alemán had composed a swing riff tune titled Oscarinadas, which probably was intended to be the signature tune of his Quinteto de Swing when his contract with Odeon started in November 1941. However, the recording of Oscarinadas was not made during the first session for Odeon, but had to wait for the second, which was scheduled at January 8, 1942. Two titles were recorded in this session and issued at Odeon 45787, the A-side had the recording of Oscarinadas (mx 11697), while the B-side had the recording of De Humor (In The Mood). Below is inserted the audio of Oscarinadas from January 8, 1942 by Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing.

This recording of Oscainadas has some inspired guitar playing by Alemán and Hernán Oliva also gets his chance to show off in a well balanced violin solo. However, it was probably the B-side of Odeon 45787 which attracted the record buying public most - De Humor/In The Mood was already an international hit since the recording by Glen Miller had spread worldwide at the time of the Odeon release by Alemán's first quintet. Alemán recorded the same two titles in his last session for Odeon scheduled at June 17, 1957 featuring his Orquesta de Jazz. The recording of Oscarinadas was released as the B-side of Odeon 74347 while De Humor/In The Mood was at the A-side. Below is inserted the recording of Oscarinadas (mx 22110) by Alemán y su Orquesta de Jazz 

The tempo of Oscarinadas is faster in this 1957 version of the tune, the ensemble with violins in front almost steals the show, but nonetheless Alemán's guitar solo is inspired and has some technically very sophisticated details  which alone make this last recording for Odeon remarkable and memorable. This version of the tune leaves the impression of a master guitar player signing off the contract with Odeon by contributing a lasting personal imprint on the recording. - Alemán did not record Oscarinadas again, but the tune was part of his setlist during live performance featuring the Cinco Caballeros, an example from Radio el Mundo,  September 2, 1965 has been saved and is inserted below to end this