Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hot Club de Boedo Honors Oscar Alemán And The Work of Hans Koert (1951-2014)

I had the following message from Hot Club de Boedo ,  which I quote directly and then below add a translation in English. Featured program and photos are forwarded from Hot Club de Boedo with exception of the closing pic of Hans Koert.

 (Viernes 24 de octubre) Hot Club de Boedo rindio Homenaje a Oscar Alemán y recordó al experto Hans Koert en el Salón José Pallares de la Asociación de Fomento y Biblioteca Popular General Alvear del barrio de Caballito de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires.

En primer término dirigió la palabra el presidente de la misma Sr. Arnaldo Goenaga refiriendose a las actividades que se alli se realizan y agradeciendo al público asistente y a Hot Club de Boedo, que, comenzó el concierto con los temas clásicos del repertorio de Oscar Alemán, luego tomo la palabra el guitarrista Waldo Fonseca quien hizo una reseña acerca de Hans Koert su ciclópeo trabajo y la gratitud para con el y con Jo Larsen que sigue su labor, mas tarde dió paso al investigador Román Romano quien cautivó al publico contando anécdotas imperdibles del guitarrista chaqueño, con gran entusiasmo del auditorio continuó la musica a la que se sumaron Osvaldo y Celia bailando al compás del Jazz cerrando una noche inolvidable.

(English translation):

(Friday 24 October) Hot Club de Boedo honored and remembered Oscar Alemán expert Hans Koert at the Hall of José Pallares, Development Association and Popular Library of General Alvear Caballito (Buenos Aires aera).

First the president of the company, Mr. Arnaldo Goenaga spoke to the audience referring to the activities performed at the hall and thanking the audience and Hot Club de Boedo, which began the concert with the classics of the repertoire of Oscar Aleman. Then took the floor guitarist Waldo Fonseca, who made a review of Hans Koert's tremendous work expressing gratitude to him and Jo Larsen, who continues his work. Afterwards, the researcher Román Romano took over and captivated the public recollecting anecdotes about the Chaco guitarist. The audience engaged enthusiastically in the event, in particular when the concert continued and Osvaldo and Celia joined Hot Club de Boedo dancing to the music and closing a memorable evening.

Hans Koert (1951-2014)
Thanks a lot to Waldo Fonseca and Hot Club de Boedo for sharing this event with readers of the Oscar Alemán blog.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Jean, Jac & Jo - Featuring Oscar Alemán

We know that Oscar Alemán accompanied the vocal trio JEAN, JAC & JO in the 1930s and also participated in several recordings by the trio made during his stay in Paris. The trio was originally composed of Henry/Harry ( = Han) Driessen (vocal, violin), Jean Irace (vocal, guitar) and  Henri ( Enrique) Juvet (vocal, piano), like Alemán staff members of Josephine Baker's orchestra/revue in Paris and on tour. Later Marcell Herman (vocal, guitar) replaced Driessen in the trio set-up, but this probably happened after the co-work with Alemán, which lasted from 1934 to 1938.
Baker revue, late 1931-1932, Han Driessen (l), Alemán, JB, unknown sax player and Jean Irace (r)
Around the summer of 1934, after a half year tour through Europe Oscar Alemán and Jean, Jac & Jo left the Josephine Baker revue. The vocal trio performed in famous Paris cabarets like L' Européen, L' Allambra and the Casino de Paris. Twelve  records from the vocal trio acc. by Oscar Alemán on guitar and various percussion were made during the next four years starting in November 1934. You can look them up in the online Alemán discography following this link and further have access to the scarce info and documentation available on the Jean, Jac & Jo trio, here. 

Unfortunately, very few of the recorded sides by Jean, Jac & Jo featuring Alemán have been re-issued and the original 78 rpm discs are hard to find. However, I found a couple of YouTube videos that have the audio of two sides, which feature Oscar Alemán as a sideman according available discographical info. The shown 'Isabelita' was recorded for Pathé in the first listed session featuring Alemán on November 23th, 1934. There is a small error in the online disco, as the matrix number of 'Isabelita' according the shown label is CPT 1636 (- not CPT 1637 as listed in the discography), however, the disc number PÅ 435 is correct. 'Isabelita' is a rumba, music composed by Enrique Juvet and lyrics in French by Max Erlange, the arrangement is presented on the label as "Fantaisistes vocaux avec accomp. de Guitare et Piano, chantée par JEAN, JAC et JO". Personnel according the discography are: Harry ( = Han) Driessen (voc, v), Oscar Alemán  (g, maraccas), Jean Irace (g, voc), Henri ( Enrique) Juvet (voc, p). - Listening to the audio it is not easy to determine, if Alemán is the guitar player - the few measures of audible guitar sound like a tenor guitar and may be played by Jean Irace, however, you can hear the percussive marracas as handled by Alemán accompanying the vocal contributions by the trio and the piano played by Juvet.

The close harmony, male vocal contributions by Jean, Jac & Jo were highly in vogue in Europe during the 1930s, other popular ensembles like the German Comedian Harmonists a.o. presented vocal arrangements in the same style that was popular in caberets and with an audience prefering music drawn from an European light classical repertoire. Nevertheless, Alemán's maraccas in the recording of 'Isabelita' add the necessary, 'exsotic' atmosphere to this French version of a rumba.

The shown disc features the tune 'There's a Small Hotel' (Hart-Rodgers) as performed by Jean, Jac & Jo recorded in February 1937 for Pathé in Paris (CPT 3146-1, Pathé PA-1136). The line-up of the trio is the same as above according the discographical online info with Alemán added on guitar, but the label only states "JEAN, JAC ET JO s'accompagnant eux-mêmes". The lyrics are in French and the sheet music that was published also has the title in French as 'C'est un nid charmant'
Like the performance of 'Isabelita' the close harmony vocals of the trio are in focus here, but the accompaniement of piano and violin also gets some spots and the supposed guitar of Alemán once again sounds like a tenor model. However, I'll point you to the uploaded audio from YouTube to let you get an impression more of Jean, Jac & Jo in performance on one of the few available 78 rpm discs still accessible and here in a well known American standard in the trio's own arrangement. The uploaded video at YouTube of the audio cannot be inserted, but here is the link.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Announcement - A Concert by Hot Club de Boedo Reminiscing Oscar Alemán and Hans Koert

Today, Friday October 24th, 2014, the excellent string swing ensemble Hot Club de Boedo is performing in a concert at  Asociación de Fomento y Biblioteca Popular General Alvear. Avellaneda 542. memory of Oscar Alemán's passing away 34 years ago on October 14th, 1980. At the concert Hot Club de Boedo also will pay tribute to Hans Koert and the work he has done to save the legacy of Oscar Alemán. The program, as presented in the official flyer, is inserted here.

click to enlarge

Thank you so much to Waldo Fonseca and the members of Hot Club de Boedo for this initiative. I wish that I had the opportunity to attended the concert to express my gratitude personally!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

A Rare Guitar

Oscar Alemán in stage performance, 1970s
October 14th this year it is 34 years since Oscar Alemán passed away. To commemorate his legacy to the world, this entry puts focus on an important unsolved question regarding Alemán's guitar model, which he used in stage performance and recordings during the last decades of his long career - an essential tool that is unmistakably associated with Alemán's 'sound' from c.1954-1980 when performing on an amplified instrument. I have earlier posted some tentative information about the guitars used by Alemán during his career here. - However, I am not an expert, but luckily we have now had knowledgeable assistance from Luis 'Tito' Liber, who has investigated the peculiarities that are to be observed at Alemán's amplified guitar. Below you can read his considerations.
A Rare Guitar
Luis 'Tito' Liber
OA in stage performance at Teatro de la Comedia, July 1971
We know that Oscar used a French Selmer Maccaferrigrande bouche’ guitar, sound hole shaped like a ‘D’, during the 1940s. But later in his career (ca. 1954-1980), it appeared he had changed to another - and in fact- unusual Selmer, now electrified with a pickup, fixed inside an oblong, oval (- or ellipsoidal)  sound hole.
This instrument may belong to the transition period of Selmer guitars (1935 onwards), in which Maccaferri had abandoned the firm. That era was characterized by guitars with an oval sound hole (‘petite bouche’). Guitars with oblong, oval sound holes, however, are not included in official Selmer catalogues. It seems that they didn`t produce guitars with that characteristic at all!

Alemán's Selmer model (photo courtesy by Sergio Pujol)
Back to Oscar`s guitar, it could be that some luthier, for instance Don Sergio Repiso, had modified the top deck (- and the fret board and head) at the time he is known to have fixed the pickup (a De Armond).

Luthier Sergio Rapiso in his workshop, notice the 'grande bouche' model, left
Here are the differences between Oscar`s guitar and a common, listed Selmer model:
1. Oblong, oval sound hole
2. No zero fret
3. Ivory inlay on the head front 

Alemán's Selmer model (photo courtesy Daniel Cossarini)
So far, we can confirm that the instrument is a: Selmer, Paris, with oblong, oval sound hole
Model ca. 1938, series number 475. Short scale
It has a sticker of Antigua Casa Núñez (- it may have been repaired there or imported by that Buenos Aires firm?) inside the box below the official Selmer logo (see picture)

Close-up of sound hole
De Armond 1000 Rhythm Chief pick-up

1959 magazine ad, De Armond soundhole pickup
Oscar used this model ca. 1954-1980. The guitar was donated by Alemán to the CECUAL, Chaco, Argentina.

Oscar Alemán's Selmer in box (photo courtesy Daniel Cossarini)
Luis 'Tito' Liber

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Carlos Gardel and His Guitarists - Part 2

Carlos Gardel
We had an extensive article from Luis 'Tito' Liber discussing the influence of early jazz on the career of the famous Argentine tango singer, Carlos Gardel (1890-1935). The focus in Liber's article is put on the guitarists working with Gardel exploring their styles of playing and adding audio examples to illustrate from uploaded YouTube videos. The article points to a specific guitar tradition in the Argentine tango community and may indirectly have had an influence on the evolution of Oscar Alemán's playing style as well. Thus, the reason for publishing the article here is that the music discussed and illustrated in the article enlightens a historical context not often included in examination of the roots of Alemán's playing technique and musical environment. - Below follows the second part of Luis 'Tito' Liber's article, the first part is available here.

Carlos Gardel and his guitarists - Early South American Jazz Records - Part 2
Luis ‘Tito’ Liber 

13. Circe (María I. Goddard - Juan A. Caruso) (Nacional-Odeon 1925. 2640, 18125). Shimmy. Gardel (vo), Ricardo (lead g), Barbieri (g)
14. Reyesdel aire (José Bohr -  Amadeo Canale) (Nacional-Odeon 1925. 2710, 18127). Shimmy. Dedicated to the bold airplane pilots, these tunes used to be payed at the Christmas/New Year meeting of the Pilots Circle. Gardel (vo), Ricardo (lead g), Barbieri (g)
15. Honolulú Blues  (Nathaniel Goldstein - Maurice Grunsky) (Nacional-Odeon 1925. 2771, 18129). Shimmy in hawaian style (spanish lyrics by Spanish Juan A. Caruso). Goldstein must have been an amateur composer, because he is not registered in any authoral society. The original record was published by Milis Music, New York. Gardel (vo), Ricardo (lead g), Barbieri (g)
16. Lacanción del ukelele (Say It With a Ukelele) (Con Conrad) (Nacional-Odeon 1925. 2902, 18135). Foxtrot in Hawaiian style (Spanish lyrics by Adolfo Avilés). Gardel (vo), Ricardo (lead g), Barbieri (g)
17. Holaseñorita (Arturo de Bassi - Doblas - Alerto Weisbach) (Nacional-Odeon 1925. 2965, 18134). Shimmy. Gardel (vo), Ricardo (lead g), Barbieri (g)
18. Amor (Gran Buda) (Julio Burón - O. de Ramenti) (Nacional-Odeon. Barcelona 1925. So 3818). Shimmy. Gardel (vo), Ricardo (g).

Prince Edward of Windsor
In August 25, 1925, Gardel-Razzano combo played in the Buenos Aires county in honour of the visiting prince Edward of Windsor. They played tangos and French songs, like "La canción del ukelele", "Honolulu Blues", "Yes. We Have not Bananas". Prince Edward himself played ukulele at the meeting!

19. Quélindo es el shimmy (Guilermo Barbieri - Eugenio Cárdenas) (Nacional-Odeon 1926. 4012, 18169). Shimmy. One of the authors is Gardel`s guitarist, Barbieri. Gardel (vo), Ricardo (lead g), Barbieri (g).
20. Sonrisas (Esteban González - Eugenio Cárdenas) (Nacional-Odeon 1927. 1111, 18220). Shimmy. Gardel (vo), Ricardo (lead g), Barbieri (g).
21. Lahija de japonesita (Nacional-Odeon 1928. 2865, 18246). Foxtrot. Gardel (vo), Ricardo (g), Barbieri (g), Aguilar (g)
22. Ramona(Mabel Wayne) (Nacional-Odeon Paris 1928. Ki-1856, 18252). Waltz (spanish lyrics from Cadícamo). Gardel (vo), Ricardo (g), Barbieri (g), Aguilar (g)
23. Manosbrujas (José M. Aguilar) (Nacional-Odeon 1928. 2923-3136; 1928. Nacional-Odeon Paris Ki2077). Foxtrot. The autor is Gardel`s guitarist. Three versions: two recorded in Buenos Aires, the other in Paris. One of the Buenos Aires versions, recorded in September 1928, was an instrumental recorded by Gardel`s guitarists, and it shows the skills of those excellent musicians. Ricardo (g), Barbieri (g), Aguilar (g).*
* Listen to Manos brujas sung by Héctor Mauré, here
24. En unpueblito español (In a Little Spanish Town) (Mabel Wayne) (Nacional-Odeon 1928. 3039). Waltz  (with spanish lyrics from Cadicamo`s sobrino, Rogelio Ferreyra). Gardel (vo), Ricardo (g), Barbieri (g), Aguilar (g)
25. Amorpagano (Pagan Love Song) (Nacio Herb Brown - Arthur Freed) (Nacional-Odeon 1928. 5112). Waltz in hawaian-style (Spanish lyrics by Luis Rubinstein); from the 1928 film El Pagano. Gardel (vo), Ricardo (g), Barbieri (g), Aguilar (g)
26. Ladivina dama (Nat Shilkret) (Nacional-Odeon 1929. 4451-4513, 18284). Waltz (Spanish lyrics by Enrique Cadícamo); from the 1928 film Fair Lady. Two versions. Gardel (vo), Aguilar (lead g), Barbieri (g)
27. Yobeso vuestra mano señora (Ich Küsse Ihre Hand Madame) (Fritz Rotter- Ralph Erwin) (Nacional-Odeon 1929. E4514-1, 18289). German song with Spanish lyrics by Luis Rubinstein. Two versions. Gardel (vo), Aguilar (lead g), Barbieri (g)
28. Yo nací para tí, tú serás para mí(You Were Meant For Me) (Macio Herb Brown) (Nacional-Odeon 1930. 5326). Foxtrot (spanish lyrics by Enrique Cadícamo); from the film Melodía de Broadway). Recorded April 1st 1930. Rodolfo Biaggi (p), Antonio Rodio (v), Barbieri (g), Aguilar (g), Riverol (g).
29. Caprichosa (Froilán Aguilar) (Nacional-Odeon 1930. 6067, 18837). Fado in foxtrot-style from Uruguayan Froilán Aguilar. Gardel (vo), Barbieri (g), Aguilar (g), Riverol (g)

30. Dejà (Jean Lenoir - Elie Aivaz) (Nacional-Odeon Paris 1931. Ki4491). Waltz in French. First version recorded in Paris with Gregor orchestra. Second with two guitars. Gardel (vo), Barbieri (g), Riverol (g).
31. Folie(Locura) (A. Wilson - Alfred Fischer) (Nacional-Odeon Paris 1931. Ki4492; Nacional-Odeon 1931. 6872). In French. Two versions: With two guitars (Barbieri and Riverol) and with Gregor orchestra.
32. Madame,c’est vous (Señora, es usted) (Kalikián Grégor) (Nacional-Odeon 1931. 6873, 18863). In French. With Gregor orchestra.
33. Je tedirai (Kalikián Grégor - Michel Emer) (Nacional-Odeon 1931. 6874, 18863). Foxtrot. Sang in French.

Kalikian Gregor (Krikor Bedros Kallekian, b. Stambul 02-28-1897 – d.?) was a French-Armenian dancer who lead his jazzband, called The Gregorians. This orchestra played in Paris and the theaters, casinos and cabarets on the Côte d'Azur (i.e. Nice) in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He dressed eccentrically, accompanied by two large Afghan dogs. He got acquainted with Gardel in January 1931, then in Paris and Nice. By the end of 1931, during a tour through South-America, he was in Argentina. Gregor made records for Ultraphone and Edison Bell, among others labels. His orchestra of twelve pieces, one of the pioneers of jazz in France (as Ray Ventura`s), was capable of playing all styles of music, from comic burlesques (with amounts of clowning) to hot jazz. It adopted the symphonic style of Paul Whiteman, combining improvisation and written music. The band dressed in impeccably tailored uniforms. The French jazz magazine La Revue du Jazz (appeared in 1929) was the "house-organ" of Gregor and His Gregorians (Acc. Kennedy, W.: Le hot. The assimilation of American jazz in France, 1917-1940. Kent State University).

Stéphane Grappelli
Stephane Grappelli was a member of the band in 1930. Formation ca. 1932-1933: Ray Allen (d), Leo Vauchant-Arnaud? (tb), Edmund Cohanier (as, cl), Alix Combelle (ts, cl), Michel Emer? (p), Roger Fisbach (as, cl), Gregor Kelekian (Leader, vo), Charles "Coco" Kiehn (ts, cl), Gaston Lapeyronnie (t), Charles Lisee (as, cl), Lucien Moraweck (p), Edmund Masse (banjo, g), Stephane Mougin? (p), Guy Paquinet? (tb), Andre Pico (t), Sylvio Schmidt (v), Raymond Van Der Notte (bass brass), Michel Warlop (v) ( Source:

Gregor and his Gregorians
The jazz band of Gregor that accompanied Gardel in 1931 (or toured with Gregor in Southamerica in 1930) was integrated by: Alberto Hervier (as), Carlos Trógolo (ts), Francisco Mazzeo (t), José Brullo (tb), Freddie Forsher (p), Manuel Gabinovich (v), Johnny Conyers (g) and Luis Castro (d). (Source:

34. Parlezmoi d’amour (Háblame de amor) (Lenoir) (Nacional-Odeon 1933. 7365, 18880). In French. Popularized in America by Lucienne Boyer in 1930. Four guitars: Pettorossi, Barbieri, Riverol, Vivas. In his last year in Argentina, Gardel became the first Argentinian singer who performed with a four guitars combo.
35. Rubias de New York (Gardel-LePera) (Victor New York 1934. 83703, 18914). Foxtrot composed by Gardel in the USA, 1934, for the film El tango en Broadway. His last, best and world kown foxtrot. Part of the merry lyrics: Mary, Peggy, Betty, Julie, / New York blondes, / adorned little heads / that lie about love. / The stars feel envy; / I don`t know how to live without them. / Mary, Peggy, Betty, Julie, / of flourished lips. It was recorded with Terig Tucci orchestra, integrated by: Tucci (v), Remo Bolognini (v),Rafael Galindo (v), Joe Biviano (accordion), Domingo Guido (bass), Alberto Castellanos (p), Osvaldo Nazzuchi/Vicente Navatta (cello).
36. Amortropical (Sol tropical) (Terig Tucci - Alfredo LePera) (Victor New York 1935. 89231). Rumba. Recorded in January 1935, with Terig Tucci orchestra, for the film El día que me quieras. It was integrated by: Juan Manzo/Horacio Zito (v), Remo Bolognini (v),Rafael Galindo (v), Joe Biviano (accordion), Domingo Guido (bass), Abraham Thevenet/Joseph Kahn (p), Osvaldo Nazzuchi/Vicente Navatta (cello), Eugenio Cibelli (g), Juan López (t).

These records show that Carlos Gardel, as well as Francisco Canaro, Roberto Firpo,  Horacio Salgán, Astor Piazzolla (and Oscar Alemán of course), was not limited to a single genre. They were all "tango men", but in contemporary definition of jazz... could they be named "jazz men" too?

Carlos Gardel
 For making this, I used my own (and humble) discographical archive and Boris Puga`s discography (published in Tangueando nº7. 1969). Some of the information about the authors is taken from the great work of Orlando Del Greco, "Carlos Gardel y los autores de sus canciones" (Ed. Akian. Bs. As. 1990). Other data are from various websites and excellent J. and O. Barsky`s :"Carlos Gardel. La biografía" (Taurus, Bs. As. 2004).


Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Memory of Hans Koert, September 2014

Dear readers,

I have collected some of the notifications according Hans Koert's passing on September 4th, 2014. The following is a list of quotes from people who have reacted in forwarded e-mails or as comments on some of Hans' weblogs.

So sorry to hear of Hans’ passing. He was dedicated to bringing us all a little closer to the musicians we all have known and loved over the years. His enthusiasm was boundless and his seemingly endless supply of good humor came across, even in his writing. He will be missed. - Malcolm Rockwell 

Through the distance, my condolences for Hans` wife, his family and friends.- Luis ‘Tito’ Liber 

What sad news. Unfortunately, I never met Hans, but I admire the Oscar Alemán page. - Sincerely yours Sergio Pujol.

We are really sorry to hear this. Hans was the ultimate "alemaniac" as he always posted on the blog. He gave a lot to the memory of Oscar Aleman and many other artists on the Keep swinging blog. A lot of interesting information with a lot of love and passion were behind every post. He will be remembered. Our condolences to Corrie. - José Iacona 

Thank you for this sad information. Our condolences to you and to Corrie.Best wishes, Richard and Meagan Hennessey, Archeophone Records

My sincerest condolences on Hans Koert’s passing. - Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

I am really sorry to know about Hans Koert's passing, please give my condolences to his family.- Michele Ariodante

 blog comments:
Thank you for sharing this sad news with us, he will be missed. My condolences to friends and family. - 

It is a great loss and we will miss him a lot. - Jorgelina Alemán, Daniel Cossarini 

Hans, Your work and legacy will never stop swinging. - Lao Iacona.

Una muy lamentable noticia, siempre te recordaremos, nuestras condolencia a su familia. - Hot Club de Boedo 

Hans Koert did an incredible work to preserve the memory and career of Oscar Aleman. Thanks for everything Hans! Rest in peace. - José Iacona


Thanks for your support!

My personal farewell in still footage and music. Thanks for everything, dear friend!


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Hans Koert (1951 - 2014)

Hans Koert (1951-2014)
Dear readers,

I had the sad news this afternoon that Hans Koert passed away this morning. Hans Koert died from complications caused by a lung cancer that has kept him inactive at his website and blogs for some months. I have lost a dear friend, however, my thoughts and condolences in this difficult hour I forward to Corrie, Hans' wife, 

If you wish to express your compassion or send a condolence notification, I will state Corrie's postal address below. You may also state your message by notifying me at the e-mail address below, then I'll forward your message to Corrie. As always, you can also use the comment facility at the blog, if you prefer this solution.

Hans Koert was the founder and main editor of the Keep Swinging website including under-webs and blogs. Before it was too late, I promised Hans to continue his work the best I can. If you have questions or comments regarding this, please feel free to contact me in an e-mail.

Here is the postal address of Corrie Koert:

Ms. Corrie Koert
Torenvalkstee 8
NL-4451 CM Heinkenszand
The Netherlands

The e-mail address to send condolence notification or questions, please use this:

Thanks for your support!

Jorgen Larsen