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 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Comienza el Beguine - Begin The Beguine

Cole Porter at the piano (1930s)
Cole Porter composed Begin The Beguine and also wrote the lyrics, the song had its debut in Cole Porter’s musical comedy Jubilee in 1935. It was reputedly the longest popular song ever written of 108 bars while the conventional length for a song normally is 32 bars. The song later became a hit for bandleader and clarinetist Artie Shaw, who recorded his instrumental version for Bluebird in 1938.
Bluebird, B-7746-B
Artie Shaw and his orchestra recorded Begin The Beguine on July 24 1938 as the B-side of the shown Bluebird B-7746, the A-side had Shaw's version of Indian Love Call. About the same time was recorded a soundie (short film of live performance of the song) where the song was presented -it has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted here

Artie Shaw's instrumental version of Begin The Beguine soon became the standard arrangement of the music. The song had only little in common with the original biguine,  Shaw's arrangement is in the fox trot style (- slow fox may be the right denomination) and addressed dancers of the swing era. However, Begin The Beguine was a hit, and in the 1940s it became a jazz standard recorded by Benny Goodman, Glen Miller a.o. popular bands of the time.
Sheet music front
Oscar Alemán y sus Quinteto de Swing recorded Begin The Beguine on 4 November 1942 as Comienza el Beguine in the same session where Tengo Ritmo (I Got Rhythm) and Blues del adios (Bye Bye Blues) also were recorded. Alemán's version was issued on Odeon 45826 and is a great example of his guitar playing and Hernán Oliva's excellent contributions on the violin

Alemán did not record Begin The Beguine again in his later career, but the tune was nevertheless a part of his standard repertoire at live-performance in radio, TV and public shows. A live air-shot from Radio el Mundo 1965  gives an impression of how the tune was arranged and performed by Alemán and his Cinco Caballeros - the guitar solo has not changed fundamentally from the first version at Odeon 45826, I think


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

A Missing Record Featuring Les Loups?

According to the Discography Of American Historical Recordings a 78 rpm Victor 80840 recorded Spring 1928 in Buenos Aires featuring female tango vocalist Rosita Quiroga has the title 'Mis pobres ilusiones' on the A side (mx BAVE-44060), while the B side (mx BAVE-44061) has the title 'Mal rumbeada'. I got curious about this Victor recording, as the A side featuring 'Mis pobres ilusiones' is a composition credited to Gastón Bueno Lobo and Oscar Alemán with added lyrics by Enrique D. Cadicamo. I tried to find further info about this composition and hoped finding the audio somewhere to evaluate the possibility of Les Loups' participation in the recording, but without result, since the recording probably is lost. Next I wrote my expert friend in early tango, Luis 'Tito' Liber for help researching further info, he sent me an answer (quoted below) which does not solve the question about the possible participation of Les Loups, but it puts some light on the circumstances of the the recordings by Rosita Quiroga in 1928.
Rosita Quiroga
Here is what Luis wrote: Roberto G. Miglio, in his book El Tango y Sus Intérpretes, has written that there are two sides of Rosita Quiroga (Victor 80840, recorded May 2nd 1928) where she would be accompanied by Les Loups, with hawaiian guitars: Mis Pobres Ilusiones (G Lobo-E. Cadícamo; O. Aleman) vals / Mal Rumbeada (E. Cadicamo; L. Viapiana; J. M. González) tango.
According to my investigation, the master of Victor 80840 no longer exists, no record collector seems to have the disc, and no modern CD compilation has these two songs. So we cannot hear them and confirm the information. But we can get closer, knowing the name of the guitarists that accompanied Victor´s star singer Rosita Quiroga in her 1928 records. The everpresent duet of guitars in her records from 1925 to 1928 (with the exception of 1927 and some records from 1928) is the excellent duo Aguilar/Pesoa. José María Aguilar (1891-1951) made the solos (a strong sound!!) and Rosendo Pesoa (1896-1951) the accompaniment. These guitarists were a kind of session musicians who played with every singer of the Victor staff. Rosendo Pesoa and José María "El Indio" Aguilar both have been the accompanying guitars of tango singers Ignacio Corsini and Agustín Magaldi, and Aguilar has been the guitarist of the great Carlos Gardel. Not outstanding, in some records of the Autumn of 1928, Quiroga´s guitarist are unknown. Maybe she had used another duet, for instance Alemán/Lobo. But in the Winter of 1928, Aguilar/Pesoa were back. So, maybe the guitar work of Les Loups had sounded very similar to them.
During those sessions of 1928, she recorded the first hit of composer Enrique Santos Discépolo: Que Vachaché. It could be possible that Rosita had introduced Les Loups, who were friends of Enrique, to the manager of the Victor Company.
Enrique S. Discépolo
To give you an impression of Rosita Quiroga and her accompanying guitarists, here is her recording of Discépelo's Que Vachaché; it was recorded in the Summer of 1928 and the Victor files has no names of the accompanying guitarists, but the duo may be the above mentioned Aguilar/Pesoa.

This famous tango by E.S. Discépolo was also recorded by Les Loups ca 30 Aug 1928 and was issued on Victor 80936 and/or 80950 (mx BAVE-44281-2). I'll insert the audio of this recording below to let you have the opportunity to determine similarities and/or differences compared to the the recording by Rosita Quiroga from about the same time.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An Interview with Waldo Fonseca of Hot Club de Boedo by Luis Liber

Waldo Fonseca
Waldo Fonseca is one of the last exponents of the school of Argentine hot guitarists initiated by Oscar Alemán and continued by Eduardo Ravera. He is the founder of the "Hot Club de Boedo", a cultural project and a string swing ensemble that preserves the aesthetic of the style of jazz once played by Alemán and Ravera. Waldo is a tall and kind man, with the warmth of a bohemian musician. At his home, in the town of Caballito, Buenos Aires, we had a friendly talk.

" Around the end of the eighties, I got in contact with Eduardo "Zurdo" Ravera, who came to my house in Caballito to hear the swing-guitar group I had with my brother." - In the seventies, Eduardo Ravera had been the rhythm guitar of Oscar Alemán at several occasions, and further the first guitar of violinist Hernán Oliva`s Quintet (Chachi Zaragoza was another member).
"Eduardo took a lot of affection on me, because he thought we had "revived" him. He gave me a lot of scales exercises and he marked me for a long time how to play the rhythm guitar properly (moving the wrist, not the arm!)." We all know how difficult it is to play right the pompe manouche.
Eduardo Ravera and Waldo Fonseca (1993)
"I played the rhythm in our live performances, till the day Ravera told me "Maestrito, go on" and he let me do the solo."
Waldo Fonseca (left) with Eduardo Ravera (right) and ensemble
"In those days, "el Zurdo" (Lefthanded) had only limited motion in his right arm, so he had to lift it with his left hand and literally hang it from the fretboard. He played an acoustic "Repiso" guitar which sounded terrific."
Eduardo Ravera playing his Repiso
Waldo knows a lot of anecdotes about Oscar through Ravera. Here are three untold:
Alemán used to say that a guitarist must play "standing up" to be more effective (he was right if we think on the modern and spectacular rock guitarists!).
One day Oscar told Eduardo: "Try to play like yourself, not like me, because there is just one and only Alemán."
Alemán had the "nervous gesticulation" of touching his face with the tips of his fingers, as if he tried to take the colour of his skin off. Poor Oscar; but imagine that he had lived in a time when black people suffered discrimination in Buenos Aires (and in all the world).

"Jazz was my first love", says Waldo, "and I cultivate Gardel and Alemán`s style of straight playing. My others indirect teachers, from whom I learned through the records and performances, were Django, Hernán Oliva (Waldo is a fan, he has all his records!!) and bandoneonist Aníbal Troilo." - Waldo adds that the most original jazz musicians of Argentina are... the tango musicians!
"I have a worn "Fonseca" electro-acoustic guitar, but I`d like to play a "Selmer". As far as I remember, Oscar and the tango guitarist Ubaldo de Lio were the only guitarists who had a Selmer in Argentina."

Waldo and the boys at ease, enjoy!

Luis 'Tito' Liber

Monday, May 11, 2015

Oscar Alemán . La Guitarra Embrujada

A couple of weeks ago history professor and journalist, Sergio A. Pujol, has published his book titled Oscar Alemán—La guitarra embrujada (- in English: Oscar Alemán—The Haunted Guitar, Planeta de Libros (340 páginas), Buenos Aires, Argentina), his biography of  Oscar Alemán. I have not seen a copy of the book yet, but below I'll add some links to guide readers who are familiar with the Spanish language to further info.

The publisher's info about Pujol's book is accessible here

 Argentinian paper Página 12 carried an excerpt of the book, here

Finally, Sergio Pujol was interviewed about the book in a radio program at 221 Radio. Part of the interview was filmed and uploaded at YouTube in two videos, inserted below

Here's the second filmed extract of the broadcasted interview

I look forward to reactions from readers who have had access to Pujol's book. Reviews in Spanish and/or English are also most welcome.  Contact me at the e-mail below. Thank you in advance for your collaboration!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Guitarra Que Llora - Revisited

According to the info available in the Oscar Alemán online-discography Les Loups (Gastón Bueno Lobo, haw g & Oscar Alemán, g) recorded the shown 'Guitarra Que Llora' (Victor 80839 - A,mx BAVE-44058A-2) on c. May 2nd, 1928 for Victor in Buenos Aires. This was the initial recording of the tango, but other artists also recorded this tango by G.B. Lobo and Oscar Alemán after it had added lyrics by Enrique Cadícamo, a.o. Augustin Magaldi's vocal version recorded shortly after the initial version by Les Loups. However, here is the original, instrumental version as recorded by Les Loups

By coincidence I found a recently recorded version of Guitarra que llora uploaded at YouTube and performed by a Belgian trio named Les guitares magiques. This contemporary version revisits the original version by Les Loups and is a magnificent re-take of the tune that generates a hope for more from this talented Belgian trio. It's a sheer joy to learn that contemporary musicians finally have experienced the lasting quality of the music originally recorded by Les Loups. - I have not much info about Les guitares magiques, but here are a few details extracted from the info added with another uploaded video by the trio:

"Slide masters Raf “Lazy Horse” Timmermans and Gijs Hollebosch usually accompany singer-songwriters. They met in early 2012 and gigged together a few times. Soon it became clear they had to share their passion for slide music. Digging deep into the Hawaiian style of playing slide guitar, Raf and Gijs soon discovered a whole unexplored world of forgotten music. Together with double bass player René Stock they built a new repertoire. It is Hawaiian, but it is also much more."

Enjoy Guitarra que llora as played by Les guitares magiques from Belgium