Thursday, April 17, 2014

Abril en Portugal

"April in Portugal" is a popular song, also named "The Whisp'ring Serenade." The music was composed by Raul Ferrão and lyrics  written by José Galhardo  as a fado named "COIMBRA, E UMA LIÇÂDO DE AMOR", in 1947. English lyrics written by Jimmy Kennedy were set to the music, though many of the most popular versions of the song were instrumentals.- The Vic Damone recording referred to at the sheet above was released by Mercury Records as catalog number 70128.

ABRIL EN PORTUGAL was recorded by OSCAR ALEMÁN Y SU ORQUESTA DE JAZZ as an instrumental fox-trot for Odeon, Buenos Aires April 7th, 1953, and it was issued on the shown Odeon 55613 78' rpm disc at the A-side. - The audio of this recording has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below - enjoy!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014


The tune 'Saudades' was composed by Alfredo de Siano and recorded by a.o. Eduardo Armani y su Orquesta, probably late 1940s or early 1950s (- the recording by Armani was released on the 78 rpm  Victor 60-0474), and the style of music is noted as a 'batuque'. The batuque is the Portuguese word for 'batuku or 'batuk', which is  a music and dance genre originated in Cape Verde and adopted in Brazil and other Latin American countries. The title of this batuque, 'Saudades', is the Portuguese word for 'nostalgies', however, in Brazil the word has a more specific meaning  - it's a way to express a certain mood of longing for a simple and carefree life in a rural setting combined with a knowledge of a lost opportunity thus adding a shade of melancholy sentiment to the mood, often experienced by the many migrants from rural areas in the big cities.

Eduardo Armani was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 22 1898. He began playing violin in cinemas and theatres when he was fifteen years old. As his career progressed he conducted the orchestras when the famous French groups of Moulin Rouge, Folies Bergere and Casino de Paris visited Buenos Aires in 1921 and 1922. He also played first violin in the orchestra that accompanied dancers Isadora Duncan and Ana Pavlova in their tours of South America. Armani's classic academic training allowed first violin with the National Symphony in the 1920's. Armani started playing Jazz in 1919 and continued for the next 40 years. His first jazz band was called the Armani-Cóspito Jazz Band which he co-directed with René Cóspito from 1928 to 1932. In 1931 he premiered Rhapsody in Blue in Argentina. Armani Orchestra played on radio (from 1925) and in the most famous hotel ballrooms and cabarets in Buenos Aires in the 1920's through 1940's. Armani died in Buenos Aires on December 13, 1970. [quoted from artist profile by Luis Contijoch at the Red Hot Jazz web ]

OSCAR ALEMÁN y su Orquesta (Alberto A. Barbera  p, Oscar Alemán dir g vo, Alberto Ramos  g, Aldo “Nene” Nicolini  b, José Ragusa dm) recorded 'Saudades' for Odeon on the 29th of September 1952 in the same session that produced three wellknown tunes: 'Hombre Mio', 'Tengo Ritmo' and 'Daphne'. The September 29th session 1952 is one of the most inspired by Alemán and his Orchestra from this period in my opinion, and the recording of 'Saudades' confirms this impression, I think. It was issued on the above shown Odeon 55489 and was later also released on a 78 rpm Parlophone in the U.K. (- the flip side of that issue had a recording by Eduardo Armani y su Orquesta: 'Baion Del Desierto (Baiao No Deserto)').

Alemán's version of 'Saudades' is an amazing example of his guitar artistry and mastering of Brazilian music without changing the mood of the tune. The audio from this recording has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below - enjoy it!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bésame Mucho

Consuelo Velázquez (1916 – 2005) was a Mexican concert pianist, songwriter and recording artist. Velázquez, who is said to have begun playing the piano at the age of four, started her professional career as a classical music concert pianist, but later became a singer and recording artist. She  was the songwriter and lyricist of many Spanish standard songs, most notably the enduring 1940s-era standard "Bésame mucho", a romantic ballad which was soon recorded by artists around the globe, making it an international hit. - "Bésame mucho" was composed in 1941, Consuelo Velázquez wrote the original Spanish lyrics for this tune (a bolero) when she was 25 and, as she liked to say, had never been kissed. The song's haunting melody is based on the aria "Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor" ("Plaints, or the Maiden and the Nightingale"), from the 1916 opera "Goyescas," by the Spanish composer Enrique Granados. The  lyrics have a simple dramatic urgency: Bésame, bésame mucho, / Como si fuera esta noche la última vez ("Kiss me, kiss me a lot, / as if tonight were the last time"). The English lyrics (Bésame, bésame mucho, / Each time I cling to your kiss, I hear music divine) add a generous dollop of schmaltz. The English version, written by Sunny Skylar in 1944, was a hit that year for the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, with vocals by Kitty Kallen and Bob Eberly. "Bésame Mucho" is not so much an enduring standard as a global phenomenon. Translated into dozens of languages and performed by hundreds of artists, the song has been an emblem of Latin identity. [info extracted from Wikipedia profile of Consuelo Velazque and obiturary in New York Times By MARGALIT FOX, Published: January 30, 2005]

Below is inserted Consuelo Velázquez' own instrumental version of "Bésame mucho" from a TV presentation

OSCAR ALEMÁN y su Quinteto de Swing (Manuel Gavinovich  v, Rogelio Robledo  p, Oscar Alemán  g (dobro) vo dir, Oscar Guillermo Barbieri  g, Luis Gavinovich b, Ramón M. Caravaca  dm  Band vo) recorded "Bésame mucho" for Odeon on 7th Sep. 1943, it was released as the B-side of the 78 rpm Odeon 45885 and soon became a smash hit,  the royalties for this recording alone were enough to let Alemán live a comfortable life during this period. The tune "Bésame mucho" became a part of Alemán's standard book throughout the remain of his career, there are many examples of performance of the tune among the un-issued, private recordings of radio and TV shows, and he also recorded the tune again on the IMPACTO IMP-14014 LP from c.1965 (re-issued on the FA5366 CD by FREMEAUX & ASSOCIES: OSCAR ALEMÁN - BUENOS AIRES 1965-1975).

- Here is the 1965 version of "Bésame mucho" uploaded at YouTube with inserted entertaining film clips from a bygone era - enjoy!

NB! On the 20th February this year all true Alemániacs will celebrate the 105th anniversary of El Maestro!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Reinhardt vs. Alemán

”I knew Django Reinhardt well. He used to say jazz was gipsy – we often argued over that. I agree with many Americans I met in France who said he played very well but with too many gipsy tricks. He had very good technique for both hands, or rather one hand and a pick, because he always played with a pick. Not me, I play with my fingers. There are things you can’t do with a pick – you can’t strike the treble with two fingers and play something else on the bass string. – But I admired him and he was my friend. He was my greatest friend in France. We played together many times, just for ourselves. I used to go to his wagon, where he lived. I’ve slept and eaten there – and also played! He had three or four guitars. Django never asked anyone to go to his wagon, but he made an exception with me. I appreciated him, and I believe the feeling was mutual”. (OA in an interview, quoted from article by Tómas Mooney: Oscar Alemán: Swing Guitarist, Jazz Journal International, Vol. 35, No. 4 + 5 (1982))
Alemán and Reinhardt are frequently compared in the few references to Alemán in jazz literature. However, such a comparison is most often based on a coincidence of time and space, not on musical reasons. Anyone who listens with care to the records of Alemán and Reinhardt will notice there is only a superficial likeness between them and that it is not difficult to differentiate them.

Django Reinhardt is deservedly considered a guitar genius among critics, and his many records and compositions have earned him an eternal place of honor in the jazz guitarists' Hall of Fame. Oscar Alemán has often been considered a clone of the 'hot jazz' Gypsy school brought to fame by Django and his followers, but as mentioned above there are differences between the two guitarists to be noticed, if you evaluate a serious comparison of their style of playing and consept of the music. To give readers of this entry an opportunity to make a comparison and draw their own conclusions, we should open our ears and lend them to two examples of the same piece of music. And to meet the persistent holders of the 'Django-clone' point-of-view in the case of Oscar Alemán, I have chosen the tune 'Daphne' composed by Reinhardt/Grappelli and recorded several times by him in various settings. On the other hand, 'Daphne' is the only composition by Reinhardt that Alemán recorded among his own output, but it gives us a chance to consider his consept of the music in comparison with Django's version, I think. However, you may judge for yourself, of course.- Here is first Django's version of 'Daphne' from a recording made in September 1937 - musicians are: Eddie South, Stéphane Grappelli (vln); Django Reinhardt (g); Roger Chaput (g); Wilson Myers (b)

The second video-take of 'Daphne' is Alemán's recording of the tune with his Orquesta de Swing from September 1952 as issued on the Odeon 55511 78 rpm disc


Sunday, October 13, 2013


In the last recoding session for Odeon Oscar Alemán y su Orquesta de Jazz recorded four tunes on 17. June 1957, among these was the choro 'Dedos duros' composed by Alemán himself and excellently performed as a two-part guitarsolo with accompaniment by the string section of the orchestra. 'Dedos duros' meaning hard fingered in English is a challenging piece for guitar, but is performed convincingly by Alemán - probably with tounge-in-cheek and a sore left hand afterwards. The tune was released on the Odeon 74343 78 rpm disc  and has been re-issued on several CD compilations of Alemán recordings. One of the CD re-issues of 'Dedos duros' has been uploaded as an audio-video on YouTube and is inserted below

This Alemán composition seems to be a touchstone for other guitarists as well, a short example is found among several other on YouTube - enjoy this home video performance of 'Dedos duros' by Las Guitarras Del Tiempo guitar duo

To end this small revisit of a great Alemán composition and in memory of the fact that on the 14. October this year, 33 years have passed since the Maestro left us - here's another example of a recently uploaded video version of 'Dedos duros' performed by the Gitanìa quartet in concert

MY JAZZ LINKS: Oscar Aleman


Thursday, September 12, 2013

O.A.1926 Revisited

Oscar Alemán taught himself to play the cavaquinho - a four string Brazilian ukulele - as a young orphan in Santos, SP, where he in 1924 met and teamed with the Brazilian guitarist Gastón Bueno Lobo in a duo named Les Loups that had success late 1920s in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and further in Europe after joining the Harry Fleming company as part of a touring show. Les Loups were billed as hawaiian guitarists and excelled in a repertoire of tangos, waltzes, fox-trots and other light entertainment styles popular of the time.In Buenos Aires Les Loups were recorded by the Victor record company, and the 16 sides issued on 78 rpm shellac discs are proof of a talented duo.The set-up of these recordings has GB Lobo playing lead voice on the hawaiian lap steel guitar, while Alemán provides elaborate accompaniment on the conventional six string guitar, however, one tune - the B-side of the duo's first released 78 rpm disc - has GB Lobo playing the cavaquinho in his own waltz composition, "Criollita", leaving the lap steel out in this specific recording. This is the only time a cavaquinho is heard in the recordings by Les Loups, unfortunately Alemán's initial feature on this instrument, his own composition "O.A. 1926", was not recorded as a part of the released discs by Les Loups. There may be several reasons for this, one of them likely to be  that this ragtime inspired tune did not fit in with the repertoire expected by the Victor staff, another reason could be that GB Lobo as head of the duo did not want to expose Alemán as a soloist. Whatever the explanation, it's a fact that Alemán did not record his "O.A. 1926" until 1972 when the tune finally was cut as a solo piece in the session for the Redondel label that was issued on the Alemán '72 album. This version has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below

According to several sources, in his later career Alemán always had his cavaquinho with him in his live stage shows and played his "O.A. 1926" as a solo piece as part of the show. Some unissued Argentine recordings of his live-performance of this tune have been saved, here's the best and most elaborte arrangement from a radio broadcast c. 1955

The "O.A.1926" was recorded as a magnificient solo piece for ukulele by the Dutch string wizard, Ton Van Bergeyk, in 1976 for the Kicking Mule label titled 'Anno 1926', his version is close to the inserted, broadcasted take by Alemán himself. If you look up other versions of the tune at YouTube, you'll discover other versions by uke-players, one of best and most swinging is by a Japanese uke-wizard, Mario Takada, in a solo performance inserted below

Mario Takada is a member of the Sweet Hollywaiians string quartet from Osaka, Japan, specializing in 1920s and 1930s Hawaiian, swing, calypso, Italian instrumentals etc. and having released four CDs since 2008. A website introducing more info about this fabulousd ensemble is available here - and the recordings are available from Amazon or/and CDBaby.

Just recently the Sweet Hollywaiians has released a new short CD solely devoted to ukulele tunes, Magic Ukulele Waltz - containing most enjoyable playing and great tunes. The CD has an ensemble-version of "O.A. 1926" and a great version of GB Lobo's waltz "Criollita" plus five more excellently executed tunes.

The CD should be available for purchase soon, however, if you are in the mood for live uke-playing with the Sweet Hollywaiins, you can get started here


Sunday, August 04, 2013

Walter Malosetti (1931-2013)

We had the sad message that the great Argentine guitarist, Walter Malosetti, passed away 29. July, 82 years old. Walter Malosetti was a pioneering figure in promoting and shaping the contemporary concept of jazzguitarplaying in Argentina, and he is probably the single most important person, who has influenced a new generation of fellow jazzguitarists in his homeland through his appearance as a performer, recording artist and teacher of his chosen instrument.Walter Malosetti's career spanned more than 60 years of professional work as a guitarist, and among his many activities through the years he also contributed to the rediscovery of Oscar Alemán in the 1970s by taking part in the recording of the Alemán '72 LP for Redondel.

Walter Malosetti was born on June 3rd, 1931 and raised in a musical environment (his father and elder brother were guitarists), he had his first guitar as a child and was soon attracted by and had a passion for the jazz he heard on the radio. Among his earliest influences were Django Reinhardt and Louis Armstrong. Since 1950 he began working in the Argentine jazz circuit as part of the most significant bands of the time, and he also led his own orchestra.In 1958 he obtained his title of Senior Lecturer of Guitar as a disciple of the classical trained guitarist Irma Constanzo and thence devoted much of his life to teaching. From 1960 and for several years, he was employed as a Professor of Music at both public and private conservatories, and in 1961 he founded his own School of Guitar and Jazz, this being the first of its kind in Argentina. Besides his work as a teacher of guitar, he continued working at the top of the Argentine jazz scene, and in 1972 he formed the group SWING 39, a string swing quintet that was inspired by Django Reinhardt and the original Quintette de Hot Club de France. The quintet recorded six LP albums from 1973 to 1981 and was composed by Malosetti on lead guitar, bassist Hector Basso, reed player Carlos Acosta and accompaying guitarists Ricardo Pellican and Marcelo Buscio.The SWING 39 ensemble was popular and had success with the public in live performance - here's an example of the kind of string swing played by the group, in this sequence from a TV program the quintet is reduced to a quartet, reed player Carlos Acosta is replaced by violinist Hector Lopez Furst, who also replaced Acosta in one of the LP recordings by SWING 39

In 1975 Malosetti wrote and published "Foundations of improvisation for guitar", the first book in a prolific collection dedicated to guitar method and practise. During the 1980s he toured European contries and led his own groups besides continueing his pedagogical work as a teacher of his instrument. In 1992, Malosetti released his first CD in his own name - 'All of Me/Todo de mi' and this was followed by six more during the 1990s and 2000s, the last one 'Escencia' released 2012. This part of Malosetti's work demonstrates a modern approach to jazz and guitarplaying, and he is quoted from mentioning Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass and Jim Hall as a major inspiration in his own playing,
although as a master of his instrument, he was just as much his own stylistic inventor.- Here's an example from his later career demonstrating his chops in a quartet setting

During his late career Malosetti co-operated with his son, Javier Malosetti, who is also a musician (electric bass, drums and vocal), and they both took part in each other's various projects, both as educators, performers and recording artists. Here's an example of the co-work between father and son, from a TV presentation Walter and Javier Malosetti perform 'After You've Gone'

To end this small career profile of an important figure of the Argentine jazz scene, I'll insert a video recorded at the International Jazz Festival of Buenos Aires 2008 in remembrance of this great artist - enjoy!