Sunday, January 31, 2016


Rafael Medina (1906 - 1978)
In the revised and updated Oscar Alemán Discography by Andrés 'Tito' Liber there is an interesting entry in the published part 2 (- scroll down to page 19) concerning Oscar Alemán's collaboration with the Spanish singer Rafael Medina They both participated in the (partly lost) movie Trois Argentins à Montmartre (1940) by André Hugon together with actor George Rigaud and dancer Paloma Sandoval and possibly also recorded a few sides for the Pathé label in 1940. - Below I'll publish 'Tito' Liber's considerations about this issue, which he kindly forwarded in English to share with the readers of this blog. 
Original film poster
In the André Hugon film Trois Argentins à Montmartre (filmed in France between January and April 1940, premiered January 14th 1941) with George Rigaud, Paloma Sandoval and singer Rafael Medina, we can see Oscar Alemán playing two or more songs. Oscar plays the guitar in a scene in which he talks with Rigaud in a small room, some chords of “Pobre mi madre querida” (tango) + Jazz improvisation. The scene is available in Hernán Gaffet's documentary 'Vida con Swing' (2002) and has also been uploaded at YouTube

In another scene, which has been saved (- without audio) and available in Hernán Gaffet's documentary, Oscar participates as a guitarist with the singer Rafael Medina and dancer Paloma Sandoval in a nightclub/cabaret setting, a still shot from this scene is inserted here
Still shot from Trois Argentins à Montmartre
It is funny to see Oscar dressed as a gaucho… but playing a modern Gibson L4 guitar! This song could be one of the Argentine songs Rafael Medina recorded in Paris in 1940 for Pathé, accompanied by guitars, but the singer´s discography doesn´t give us any data about it. Further, we know that Alemán almost never recorded with another guitarist. So, strictly talking, we cannot confirm the participation of OA in those registers, but I think it is highly probable. In the inserted still shot, the way Oscar plays the guitar seems like a typical “rasgueo” of an Argentine creole valtz.

Rafael Medina recorded the following sides for French Pathé in 1940

El Rosal Florido (unknown composer) vals criollo (Rafael Medina, Vol.1 1931-1942. Remastered. Dec 01, 2000. Discos Marfer / Discos Lollipop, S.L.track 6) (Rafael Medina. Obra Completa 1931-1942. Jul 12, 2011. C.R. Digital Contents. CD1 track 6) Rafael Medina (vo) + 2 guitars. A creole valtz, maybe the one played in “Trois argentins a Montmartre” movie?

Taconeando (P. Maffia) tango (Rafael Medina, Vol.1 1931-1942. Remastered. Dec 01, 2000. Discos Marfer / Discos Lollipop, S.L.track 9) (Rafael Medina. Obra Completa 1931-1942. Jul 12, 2011. C.R. Digital Contents. CD1 track 9) Rafael Medina (vo) + 2 guitars. It is interesting to say that Alemán would play this tango in 1965, at Radio El Mundo, with the 5 Caballeros.

Yo sé por qué (unknown composer) bolero foxtrot (Rafael Medina, Vol.1 1931-1942. Remastered. Dec 01, 2000. Discos Marfer / Discos Lollipop, S.L.track 20) (Rafael Medina. Obra Completa 1931-1942. Jul 12, 2011. C.R. Digital Contents. CD2 track 20) Rafael Medina (vo) + unknown (g), unknown (acc). A dancing theme with a musette tingue given by an accordeon and a brief jazzy guitar solo.

Norwegian Jazz archeologist Jan Evensmo had this comment regarding Alemán's possible participation in the mentioned recordings: " "El Rosal Florido" and "Taconeando" seem to be recorded at the same session (same 78?). This guitar player could very well be OA, although I am not 100% sure. (...) "Yo Se Por Que", a delightful solo on this one! Although I hesitate in stating that this 100% sure is OA, it is quite likely"

'Tito' Liber

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Happy New Year - Un feliz año nuevo 2016

Dear Alemániacs and friends of Oscar Alemán, I want to thank you for your support in 2015 and I wish you all a Happy New Year - Un feliz año nuevo 2016. Let's celebrate the New Year and el Maestro with a bit of humor, I am sure Oscar would have appreciated this version of Bésame Mucho


Sunday, November 29, 2015

An Updated Oscar Alemán Discography Is Now Available

Until recently the most complete discography of Oscar Alemán's recorded legacy has been Hans Koert's online discography, available here.  However, now my friend Andrés 'Tito' Liber has revised and updated a new version of the discography incorporating new info previously unavailable. The result of this magnificent work has been uploaded in four parts at the web blog of Hot Club de Boedo, and you may have access to the data following these links:

Part 1, here, Part 2, here,  Part 3, here, Part 4, here -  Cick on the single uploaded page to enlarge the text.

I'll take time to have a closer look at the listed data compared to those already available at Hans Koert's web. Unfortunately, the data at Hans Koert's online discography cannot be changed or extended with new info, as the supplier of the website has stopped operating. As a consequence, I suggest that researchers of Alemán's recorded legacy consult the mentioned discography by Andrés 'Tito' Liber to have the latest updated info.

Thanks a lot to 'Tito' Liber for his work and enthusiasm, and thanks also to Waldo Fonseca of Hot Club de Boedo for uploading the discography and make it free accessible for the public.

'Tito' Liber and Waldo Fonseca

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rosita Quiroga Featuring Les Loups

Some time ago I had a request for info on a 78 rpm Victor disc registered in the DAHR online discography list of recordings by female tango singer Rosita Quiroga.
Rosita Quiroga
The original Victor disc by Rosita Quiroga has the following data available in the DAHR discography: Victor 80840A featuring the composition Mis pobres ilusiones with music by Gastón Bueno Lobo and Oscar Alemán, lyrics by Enrique D. Cadicamo and the musical genre is listed as a waltz. This recording has the matrix no. BAVE-44060, and take 1 was used for the issue at the Victor 80840 disc. Further is stated in the discography that the recording features female vocal solo, with guitars. However, the names of participating guitarists are not mentioned which apparently was not unusual at the time. I wondered if the anonymous guitarists in fact could be GB Lobo and Alemán, as they already had a recording contract with Victor as the Les Loups duo - and of course because the music is credited to the names of both of them. Unfortunately, the disc seemed to be lost, then it would only be a 'clever guess' to assume the participation of Les Loups in the recording, I realized. Luckily, with the kind help of a collector, Sr.Ramón Hernández Gutiérrez, the audio of Mis pobres ilusiones has now unearthed and is inserted below to confirm the participation of Les Loups in the recording, and Sr.Ramón Hernández Gutiérrez has further clarified the actual date of the recording as May 2nd 1928.

This recording of Mis pobres ilusiones leaves me no doubt about the participating guitarists. The hawaiian steel guitar intro and playing behind Quiroga's vocal and the elaborate accompaniment by the second conventional guitar reveal the style of Les Loups well known from the duo's performance throughout their own issued output by Victor.

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 matrix no. is BAVE-44061, and take 2 was used for the Victor 80840 issued disc. The info about participating musicians again only states female vocal solo, with guitars, but I am sure that the accompaniment of guitars is by Les Loups after listening to the audio, which now is available with the kind help from Sr.Ramón Hernández Gutiérrez. The audio is  inserted below to let you enjoy an excellent performance of this tango by Rosita Quiroga accompanied by Les Loups 


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Josephine Baker In Holland, December 1933

When Hans Koert, Theo v.d. Graaff and I presented the El Redescubrimiento de Oscar Alemán/The Rediscovery of Oscar Alemán project at the IAJRC Convention in Copenhagen July 2005, Hans Koert had prepared a review of the career of Oscar Alemán based on the info available at the time. The review benefited from Hans Koert's own research as well as the documentary Vida con Swing (2002) by Hernán Gaffet. During this first-time presentation of Alemán's career for an international audience, Hans Koert also had collected a couple of surprises to wet the teeth of hungry collectors of Alemán's recorded legacy. The review was accompanied by audio examples and a Power Point presentation to illustrate Alemán's career. One of the audio examples was a just recently discovered private recording of Josephine Baker made at a performance during her tour of Holland in December 1933.
In the article Oscar Alemán in Copenhagen (2005), Hans Koert accounts for the background of the recording, quoted here:

"Being part of the Baker Boys meant a lot of travelling around Europe and Northern Africa with the revue of Josephine Baker. These tours were tiresome; Oscar loved to be in Paris, where he could play with visiting jazz musicians, like Freddy Taylor, Danny Polo, Bill Coleman and Frank “Big Boy” Goudy. The Baker tours were a tough job, indeed; two concerts in the evening and sometimes one in the afternoon, too. In December 1933 the Baker company played in Holland, eleven concerts within six days (Concertgebouw - Amsterdam, Concertzaal - Haarlem, Kunstmin - Dordrecht, Musis Sacrum - Arnhem, De Groote Doelenzaal - Rotterdam and Gebouw voor K en W – The Hague.). However, the tour through Holland was cancelled in The Hague due to technical problems after the first evening concert, although other sources speak about Josephine Baker being ill. It is a fact that the critics characterized Josephine’s act as “weinig om het lijf hebbend”, which means in English that the audience considered her erotic acts to be of minor importance."  (Hans Koert in: OSCAR ALEMAN in Copenhagen, p. 2 (2005))
I have not been able to confirm, if the recording was made at Kunstmin in Dordrecht, but the exact date of the recording is stated on the label shown above as 19 December 1933. The audio quality is not the best, however, this is nonetheless an interesting recording, as this is probably the only preserved live-recording of Josephine Baker with her 16 Baker Boys featuring Oscar Alemán on guitar in the ensemble. The guitar is barely audible, but you can hear it behind Md. Baker's vocal throughout, if you pay attention to the accompanying music of the song. The audio has now been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted here to honor the magnificent work by Hans Koert to initiate The Rediscovery of Oscar Alemán in this part of the world, and of course further to remind us that today 35 years have passed since Oscar Alemán left us on October 14th, 1980.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Recording Debut of Les Loups - A Discographical Conclusion

From the online discography of Oscar Alemán we only have an approximate date of the recording debut of Les Loups. The info stated in the online discography gives c. December 10th, 1927 as the date of the recording of the tango-milonga 'Hawayanita' and the waltz 'Criollita' by Les Loups, the recording debut by the duo for Victor, issued on Victor 79968. Another source, the online Discography of American Historic Recordings, states the recording date of Victor 79968 as 'Winter 1928' for the catalog numbers of the mentioned tunes, mx BAVE-1588 and BAVE-1589. Further info in the online AHR discograpy states that take 2 of both matrix number BAVE-1588 and BAVE-1589 were used as masters for the issued Victor 79968 disc.
Victor 79968-A
Last week I had a mail from Anthony Baldwin, who now can confirm the precise date of the recoding debut of Les Loups as December 6th 1927 and further has some interesting info that I like to share here. I quote Mr. Baldwin below by permission, the inserted scans are also forwarded by this observant collector.
HMV R14030 (scan courtesy Anthony Baldwin)
Anthony Baldwin writes: "I recently acquired HMV R14030, the Italian issue of Argentine Victor 79968: Hawayanita (BA1588) and Criollita (BA1589). Under the label of the Hawayanita side there is legible information scratched in the original wax by the engineer, notably the matrix number "BAVE 1588" and a precise recording date "Dec. 6..27".
Scan of original wax info at HMV R14030 (courtesy Anthony Baldwin)
"The "Hawayanita" side has legible matrix information scratched in the wax under the label, clearly dating the session to "Dec. 6. 27", whereas the date on the Oscar blog is "c. 10 December 1927". There is also a hand- inscribed "2" at 9 o'clock from the spindle hole, which would appear to confirm the die-stamped take number "2" in the wax run-off area. The flip side, "Criolitta", also bears the take number "2" in the run-off."
"In my view, c. 10 December 1927 was always a slightly dubious estimate, mainly because the 10th was a Saturday, a day when — in western culture, at least — musicians are usually busy working elsewhere. For similar reasons, the probably American engineer at Argentine Victor would have been used to the U.S. practice of working Monday to Friday: Saturday was for the racetrack or the golf course. Unless someone like Rachmaninov had been in town, I doubt that the engineer would have been amused to be dragged into the studio at the weekend — and certainly not for a couple of obscure guitarists!"
"It's interesting that the artist credit scratched in the wax is not to "Les Loups", but to Lobo-Morera [sic], presumably because Oscar was using his father's name, Moreira."
My comment regarding the last mentioned is that published sheet music from the period often credited Alemán by writing 'Oscar M. Alemán' - the 'M' could refer to his father's name, however, Oscar's middle name was another possibility. His full name actually read 'Oscar Marcelo Alemán'.
Sheet music front - Hawayanita
Mr. Baldwin adds another interesting detail regarding the Victor session on Dec. 6th, 1927:
"Interestingly, the two matrix numbers immediately preceding the "Hawayanita" session, BAVE 1586 ("Caxorro") and 1587 ("Ya...Ya"), are by the Elio Rietti Jazz Band, apparently also recorded on Dec. 6, 1927. These sides are also both take-2. One wonders whether there was any connection between the Rietti band and Les Loups, or whether they were simply booked into the studio on the same day."
If someone can supply enlightening information of a possible connection between Les Loups and the Elio Rietti Jazz Band - a very popular and pioneering jazz band in Argentina in the 1920s, I should like to learn more. Contact me by using the e-mail below. Or use the comment facility of the blog.
Thanks a lot to Mr. Anthony Baldwin for his very informative observations!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 Encuentro de Jazz de Cuerdas "Oscar Alemán" - Some Impressions

Program frontpage 
On October 14th it has been 35 years since Oscar Alemán passed away. To commemorate his legacy and his importance for contemporary fans and followers in Argentina and elsewhere, Hot Club de Boedo organized the Encuentro de Jazz de Cuerdas de "Oscar Alemán" on September 19th at the Salón José Pallares de la Asociación de Fomento y Biblioteca Popular Gral. Alvear, Buenos Aires. Luis 'Tito' Liber kindly forwarded his impressions from the event including the photos inserted below. The text accompanying the photos is by Luis Liber.
Program inside (click to enlarge)
Last Saturday a great meeting of friends, musicians and audience took place in Buenos Aires. They were gathered to play, listen to and enjoy the music once played by Oscar Alemán in his very particular style. As always, Maestro Waldo Fonseca of Hot Club de Boedo played guitar and directed the show. As highlights we had the pleasure of listening to the Swiss accordionist Olivier Forel, who provided his jazz-mussette touch to the songs, and further Mateo Giarrusso (drums), Mariana Gasloli (bass), Gustavo Villanueva (sax), Claudio Spirito and Héctor Corpus (guitars), Matías Bahillo (trumpet) ... and of course the other well known members of the  Hot Club de Boedo ensemble.
 Oliver Forel and Mateo Giarrusso  with Hot Club de Boedo
All musicians on stage
Hot Club de Boedo and guest musicians in full swing!
In the intermezzos, Tito Liber provided a lecture on what "swing" is all about and further pointed to the El Redescubrimiento de Oscar Alemán project including the Oscar Alemán blogspot on the internet, and Sr.Roman Romano recalled many Alemán anecdotes.
Oliver Forel, Waldo Fonseca and Luis 'Tito' Liber
The end of the show included a 'jam session' featuring all the participating musicians and the audience singing "When the Saints Go Marchin` In" as a bonus.

Congratulation to Waldo Fonseca, Hot Club de Boedo and everyone else who took part in a successfull implementation of the show!

Luis 'Tito' Liber