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

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Rosita Quiroga & Les Loups - Victor Disc Labels

Rosita Quiroga
Some time ago the uncertainty regarding the participation of Les Loups in the May 2nd 1928 recording of Mis pobres ilusiones by Rosita Quiroga for Victor was ruled by audio documentation kindly forwarded by a keen record collector, Sr.Ramón Hernández Gutiérrez. Now another collector, Sr. Sergio del Río Macias, has kindly forwarded the scans of the original Victor 80840 disc as further evidence of the participation of Les Loups in Mis pobres ilusiones - the info at the label clearly informs that Rosita Quiroga is accompanied by Les Loups.
Victor 80840-A, Mis pobres ilusiones
The audio of Mis pobres ilusiones was uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below to fix previously missing links

The B-side of Victor 80840, recorded at the same session on May 2nd 1928, contains a composition by Luiz Viapiana and J.M. Gonzáles with lyrics by Enrique D. Cadicamo, a tango titled Mal rumbeada. The label of the original disc does not state the participation of Les Loups, just the common info used at the time: Solo con Guitarras. However, the audio of Mal rumbeada does not leave me doubt about the participation of Les Loups - Alemán provides the elaborate obligato and solo spots while GB Lobo takes care of the rhythm accompaniment. Both label and audio from YouTube video inserted below.
Victor 80840-B, Mal rumbeada
Here is the audio of Mal rumbeado from the uploaded YouTube video

Thanks to keen collectors of historically important records like the mentioned Victor disc 80840 by Rosita Quiroga the early recording career of Oscar Alemán has now been further documented by solid facts. This is highly valuable information to avoid undocumented myths and falsification of history.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Horacio Salgán (1916 - 2016)

Horacio Salgán (photo by Silvina Frydlewsky for The Washington Post)
Today the sad news of the passing of Horacio Salgán on August 19 reached me. Horacio Adolfo Salgán (June 15, 1916 – August 19, 2016) was an Argentine tango pianist, composer and band leader from Buenos Aires. Some of Salgán's most well-known compositions include Del 1 al 5 (Días de pago) (1944), Don Agustín Bardi (1947), Entre tango y tango (1953), Grillito, La llamo silbando, Cortada de San Ignacio, and A fuego lento. - Salgán began studying piano at age six. At age 18 he joined the cast of Radio Belgrano as a soloist and back-up musician. At 20 he was discovered by orchestra leader Roberto Firpo, who hired Salgán for his orchestra. In late 1942 he made his first recording, and in 1944 he put together his own orchestra, which lasted until 1947. Salgán then devoted himself to composing and teaching and in 1950 returned with a new orchestra. 1960 saw the formation of the Quinteto Real, with Salgán on piano, Enrique Mario Francini on violin and Pedro Laurenz on bandoneón. The goal of the group was to create instrumental tangos designed for listening rather than dancing. In 1998 he appeared as himself in the Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Language Film Tango, no me dejes nunca as part of El Nuevo Quinteto Real, an incarnation of the original group. In 2005 Konex Foundation from Argentina granted him the Diamond Konex Award, one of the most prestigious awards in Argentina, as the most important personality in the Popular Music of his country in the last decade. (from Wikipedia profile).

A career profile in English by Adam Bernstein in Washington Post is available here 
An obituary in Spanish by Mauro Apicella in LA NACION can be reached here 

Oscar Alemán admired and was a friend of Horacio Salgán. Alemán composed a tango as a homage to Salgán, Al Gran Horacio Salgán which he recorded at his 1974 Redondel album En Todos Los Ritmos. I posted a short article about this issue earlier,  here 

To commemorate a great Argentine musician and personality, here is inserted a performance by Horacio Salgán and his orchestra of A Fuego Lento from the concert in 2005 when Salgán received the Diamond Konex Award

Horacio Adolfo Salgán (June 15, 1916 – August 19, 2016) RIP


Sunday, August 07, 2016

Casi negro - Choro by Oscar Alemán

Odeon 74288b
Oscar Alemán was well informed about various Brazilian music genres and recorded several examples of Brazilian tunes during his contract with Odeon and later. He composed and recorded three pieces in the genuine Brazilian choro style during his contract with Odeon, they are: Casi negro (Odeon, 7488b, B.A. Oct. 22, 1955), Casi bueno, Odeon 74292b, B.A. Nov. 20 or 22, 1955) and Dedos duros (Odeon, 74343a, B.A. June 17, 1957). Here I'll focus on the first mentioned, Casi negro, the audio of Odeon 7488b has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below

Alemán's version here of this choro is  recorded as a magnificent guitar solo only supported by bass and percussion, the two-part piece is played on amplified guitar and repeated a couple of times, but no improvisation is heard or intended. Alemán never tried to improvise on Brazilian tunes, he respected the original form of the music genre, thus later days' conception of Brazilian music as a vehicle for jazz improvisation (- think of jazz-samba or bossa nova) was not the issue in Alemán's case. The only difference from a typical choro as played by Brazilian musicians is Alemán's choice of the rhythmic pattern which gets close to a 2/4 samba beat at medium tempo and further the double time sequence at the end of part B of the piece. Maybe these small details were the personal 'signature' which were added to convince the Odeon management and the record buying public that Alemán's version of the choro style could be transferred and executed convicingly by a popular Argentinian artist without spoiling the traditional Brazilian conception of the choro as a music genre incorporating endless ideas and the impact from many different musical sources within a fixed pattern? A more significant difference, however, is that Alemán performs this choro on an electrified instrument, choro is traditionally performed by acoustic instruments, but Alemán's performance of the piece on amplified guitar adds an updated version of choro at the time of the recording, which probably should appeal to the night life and dance halls of Buenos Aires. - Alemán only recorded Casi negro once, but there exists a fragment of a home recording from the 1960s that has him performing the piece on acoustic guitar which is inserted below to show a more introspective version of the tune

Just recently I was thrilled to find out that an Argentinian choro ensemble named Mistura & Manda has recorded their version of Choro negro at the ensemble's latest CD titled Lloros. I wrote a review of the CD here, and to end this I'll insert this version of Choro negro by Mistura & Manda which has been uploaded at YouTube as an audio video together with other examples of the tunes at the CD devoted to Argentinian composers of choros


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Jorge Díaz And Eduardo Ravera & Trio In TV Performance 1994

Screen shot from TV Channel 9, 'La Noche' Oct. 14, 1994
Waldo Fonseca of Hot Club de Boedo  kindly forwarded a recorded video fragment uploaded at YouTube that I like to share here. The video presents Eduardo Ravera and his trio featuring the Argentine harmonica virtuoso Jorge Díaz performing My Melancholy Baby/Mi melancólica nena. The video sequence is from a TV program titled 'La Noche' at Channel 9 hosted by Sr. Julio Lagos and aired on October 14, 1994. Featured musicians are: Eduardo Ravera (lead guitar), Jorge Diaz (harmonica), Waldo Fonseca (rhythm guitar), Claudio Gomez (el-bass guitar) and Matthew Giarrusso (drums) - Enjoy!


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Oscar Alemán - Background Of An Updated 'Online Discography'

Georg Lankester gives his account of the background of a recently published new online Oscar Alemán discography.

Interesting news for jazz guitar fans – a publication by Andrés “Tito” Liber

Oscar Alemán
The Argentinian swing guitar legend Oscar Alemán (1909 – 1980) was for a long time a somewhat neglected figure and in jazz reference literature hardly presented in printed standard discographies - most likely – because much of his recorded output was unavailable or hard to find outside  Argentina

However, it is worthwhile to mention  that Alemán  made several recordings  in Europe during the 1930s joining European and American jazz musicians in Paris while he stayed  in France as  a member of Josephine Baker’s orchestra. This small recorded output by Alemán (playing with jazzmen such as Freddy Taylor, Bill Coleman, Alix Combelle, Danny Polo and others) may be known by well-informed jazz fans of the European swing era and the recordings also have been available on various long playing albums and later in CD format.

Charles Delaunay

Alemán only recorded a  few sides in his own name during his European stay. Four sides were  recorded  by the French “Swing” label, established and promoted by the secretary of the Hot Club of France, Charles Delaunay.

Charles Delaunay
The latter was one of the leading persons within this jazz organisation and he introduced American jazz musicians to a European audience. Moreover he was also the single most important figure to promote the gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. In fact Delaunay was the originator of the famous “Quintette du Hot Club de France” featuring Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli as star soloists in a jazz setting formed by string instruments only. This was a novelty jazz formation creating a hot swinging jazz sound never heard before and the only original European pre-war contribution to the legacy of jazz in general.

Delaunay’s promotion of Reinhardt and the quintet made it almost impossible for other jazz guitarists in Paris to establish reputation and make records. And that’s the reason why  the average jazz audience was mostly unaware of Alemán being another brilliant jazz guitarist in town at the same high level as Reinhardt.

Although Oscar was always overshadowed by Reinhardt in the Parisian jazz scene,  the jazz critic Leonard Feather, who – in 1939 - wrote a much quoted review in the “Melody Maker” on Oscar’s recordings, stressed that Alemán could ‘outswing’ Django and was a far superior jazzman .

Oscar Alemán in action - 1960s
Funny enough Alemán and Reinhardt became friends with mutual respect for each other, being ‘instrument brothers’ and they met from time to time. Late at night, when each had finished work, muscians used to meet in certain Parisian places in order to chat and play together. It is a fact that Django and Oscar jammed together, but unfortunately those sessions were never recorded.

First Dicographic info

Jazz Solography, vol. 4
The European Alemán recordings are included in Brian Rust’s well-known reference work “Jazz Records 1897 – 1942” as well as in other standard discographies. In the  Seventies, the Norwegian jazz critic Jan Evensmo made a fair review of Alemán’s European  jazz records in one of his publications in the “Jazz Solography” series.

Later Evensmo, however, would resume his research of Alemán recordings and has launched a new edition of his Alemán solography a few years ago which now contains the Argentinian recorded output besides the European recordings, available online, here

In the same decade (1970s) the TOM label (“The Old Masters”) was launched in the US supported by enthousiastic jazz collectors. Two LP albums were dedicated  to Alemán, covering a selection of his recordings from 1938-1957.

Oscar Alemán  - Frémeaux CD (1994)
More recent (in 1994) an Alemán cd was issued by the French Frémeaux label which includes recordings from 1928-1943 with detailed liner notes. Further was the TOM selection with additional material reissued on a double CD disc in 1997 by Acoustic Disc.

The basis of a complete Alemán Discograpy

It was Hans Koert, an acknowledged Dutch jazz specialist  and collector, highly fascinated by Alemán’s work, who laid the foundation of a Discography as complete as possible. During several years of thorough research he traced several  Alemán records made outside Europe and he even contacted the family of the guitarist in order to obtain more relevant details.

Hans Koert's Tune-o-Graphy
In 2002 Hans published his Alemán “Tune-o-Graphy(a printed version in English & Spanish) realised in cooperation with Luis Contijoch. He resumed his Discography research in 2004 which was finished in 2009 with a web log publication in 2006.  Hans continued his immense study and further published his work in a comprehensive and free accessible internet online Alemán Discography which he kept updated till he passed away in 2014.

On basis of the main data obtained by Hans Koert, the Argentinian collector Andrés ‘Tito’ Liber - in cooperation with the present editor of Hans Koert’s website and blogs - added data and recently finished this update which is now available on the Internet. An obstacle for the average visitor of Liber’s online discography  may be the Spanish language, but serious users probably will cope with that.

This NEW online discographyby Andrés ‘Tito’ Liber is accessible by following the link in the sidebar at the weblog of Hot Club de Boedo, here

Visit this new online resource and discover more of the great swing guitarist Oscar Alemán

Georg Lankester (Holland), June 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A New Online Discography

Hernán Oliva Quinteto 1970s-L-R: Eduardo "Zurdo" Ravera (g solo), Carlos Zaragoza (rh g),
 Hernán Oliva (v), Jorge Parera (b)  Guillermo Espinase (rh g)
Around 1970 violinist Hernán Oliva - renowned for his collaboration with Oscar Alemán in the latter's first Quinteto de Swing (1941-43) - formated his own string swing quintet featuring very competent sidemen. The quintet was a great vehicle for the leader's extraordinary swing violin playing in a both hot and sweet style inspired by pioneer jazz violinists like Joe Venuti and Stéphane Grappelli but no less very much his own. With this group Oliva gained success in his late career and he recorded some memorable albums for the Redondel label during the 1970s which still stand the test of time. When listening to these recordings by the Hernán Oliva Quinteto, the listener's attention, however, is not only concerned with Oliva's playing but is in fact also quickly caught by the very delicate contributions by the quintet's lefthanded lead guitarist, Eduardo Ravera (- knicknamed 'el Zurdo' thanks to his inverted playing position). Eduardo Ravera (1937 - 1996) was a disciple of Oscar Alemán and had played together with Alemán in public live presentations, and his guitar style was elaborated from the inspiration induced by the master, but also from studying the French 'Hot Club' contributions by the legendary Django Reinhardt - the result of this was a very personal style of single string soloing characterized by a clean and accurate picking technique and great improvisational skills never exaggerating the melodic terms of the played music but keeping things together with a cool and restrained passion. Now the recorded work of Eduardo Ravera with the Hernán Oliva Quinteto finally has gained some documented exposure in a new discography collected by Andrés 'Tito' Liber, who recently published the result at the web blog of Hot Club de Boedo, here  
Front page of Eduardo Ravera discography
Andrés 'Tito' Liber writes in the foreword (- my translation into English): "This is the first and only discography outline of the work of guitarist Eduardo Ravera (1937-1996). It includes recordings made by 'el Zurdo' with the legendary violinist Hernán Oliva's quintet. In this set is also highlighted the contributions on rhythm guitar by Carlos "Chachi" Zaragoza, renowned disciple and friend of Oscar Aleman. Basically the discograpy covers a series of 6 LPs recorded for Redondel published between 1973 and 1978 and 2 recordings of live performances. [...] While the intention is to provide the most complete information about the recordings made by Ravera with Oliva, it is likely that this short work may abound in errors or omissions, which will surely be corrected in future editions, thanks to obtaining new data [...]." 
Eduardo Ravera
If you look up audio featuring the Hernán Oliva Quinteto at YouTube, several examples from the Redondel series of LPs have been uploaded, here's an example also exposing the guitar playing of Eduardo Ravera

After Hernán Oliva's passing in 1988 Eduardo Ravera withdrew from public performance for a while, but was persuaded to return onto stage by Waldo Fonseca and friends resulting in the formation of the Eduardo Ravera Quarteto. Waldo Fonseca - founder and front figure of Hot Club de Boedo - writes an account of how this happened in his prologue to the mentioned discography (- my English translation): "In 1988 with my cousin Claudio Gomez, we met the [guitar] teacher Eduardo Ravera, at the time we made our first experiences in jazz and great was our excitement to be accepted as disciples by the former guitarist of Oscar Aleman and the soloist in the Quintet of Hernán Oliva. It was not long until the teacher, who according to his own words was removed from the [public] activity, gave in to our repeated requests to return to take his place on stage, this time leading his own group. It was then sponsored by the Hot Club of Buenos Aires and we made with the "Quartet Eduardo Ravera" our first presentation at the Cotton Club with Eduardo Ravera solo guitar, Matthew Giarrusso on drums, Claudio Gomez on bass and  myself on rhythm guitar. From that moment we participated in radio, television and theatre performances in jazz festivals both in Buenos Aires and throughout the country. I remember the next day of some important presentation, the phone of his apartment in Calle Venezuela would not stop ringing, calls to which the teacher invariably answered - "More or less it's the fault of the guys who took me out of the sarcophagus"

Waldo Fonseca and Hot Club de Boedo have kept the memory of Eduardo Ravera well alive by paying homage to his work and inspiration every year since 2000 by performing tribute concerts and publishing a weblog dedicated to the legacy of Eduardo Ravera, here. Among the posted blog entries there is a link to a live performance by Eduardo Ravera Quarteto recorded in 1993, click here or on the picture below to download this free contribution that reveals some great guitar playing by maestro Ravera

Waldo Fonseca and the bandmembers of Hot Club de Boedo have become an important institution in Buenos Aires aiming to keep the memory of Oscar Alemán and Eduardo Ravera alive and by continuing the tradition from these two legendary guitarists. The group has recently recorded a live-album from one of their frequent stage presentations. You have the opportunity to listen to and bye a cd-copy of this live performance by following this link or clicking the picture below