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


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.

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.

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