This weblog will give you information about the "El Redescubrimiento de Oscar Aleman" project, the "Rediscovering of Oscar Aleman" project.
Oscar Aleman ( 1909 - 1980 )was an Argentinean jazz guitar player, entertainer and showman, born in Argentina, lived in Europe (1930s)and returned to Argentina ( 1940 - 1980 ).
He was one of the best jazz guitar players of his time.
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
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
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
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!
Earlier this month there was a homage to violinist Hernán Oliva in Argentina celebrating the Centennial of his birth. Members of the string swing conjunto Hot Club de Boedo lead by guitarist Waldo Fonseca took part in the arranged live performance. A sequence of the performance has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below. Musicians are Noberto Quinteros (sb), Ramiro Miranda (violin) Waldo Fonseca (lead g) and Facundo López Goitía (rhythm g), the music played is "Out of Nowhere" and "Minor Swing"
Guillermo Hernán Oliva was born 4. of July 1913 in Valpariso, Chile. He was a self-taught musician and played popular music in Chile before moving in 1935 to Argentina. In Argentina he was a member of René Cospito's orchestra (1935-40), and during the following years he worked with Enrique Villegas (1940), Oscar Alemán (1941-43) and in 1944-46 he performed and recorded as a soloist in a group led by Louis Vola emulating the original QHCF. Later he worked as a sideman with Ahmed Ratip y sus Cotton Pickers (1946-55), as a freelance (to 1967), and as a leader of a string swing quintet that made several recordings in the 1970s for the Redondel label. He continued to perform into the 1980s and passed away June 17th, 1988.
As mentioned, Hernán Oliva was a leader of a string swing quintet in the 1970s, besides the leader himself the quintet consisted of the excellent lead guitarist Eduardo Ravera, Carlos Zaragoza, Adrian Macri on rhythm guitar and Claudio Rapoport on string bass. This ensemble recorded for the Redondel label 1971-76, several tracks from this output have been uploaded at YouTube and a couple of examples are inserted below to contribute to the celebration of the Hernán Oliva Centennial. - Here is first an excellent reading of "St. Louis Blues"
To end this, here is Quinteto de Hernán Oliva playing "Bye Bye Blues" - enjoy!
Oscar Alemán admired the pianist, composer, arranger and orchestra leader Horacio Salgán, the photo above was shot at an occasion when Oscar and Carmen Vallejos met Salgán at a social event, probably some time in the early 1950s. In the 1950s both men had contract with Radio Belgrano and may have met eachother there. Unfortunately, we have not found available information about the relationship between Alemán and Horacio Salgán - a story yet to be told, before it's too late. However, as mentioned, we know that Alemán admired Salgán and he documented his admiration in his late career by recording a solo guitar piece titled "Al Gran Horacio Salgán". The composition is a reworking and extension of the intro part of Alemán's signature tune, "Hombre Mio", played as a tango. The tune was recorded by Alemán on his 'En Todas Los Ritmos' album for Redondel, September 1974, this version has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below
Horacio Adolfo Salgán (b. June 15, 1916, in Buenos Aires) began studying piano at age six. At age 18 he joined the cast of Radio Belgrano as a soloist and back-up musician. At 20 he was discovered by orchestra leader Roberto Firpo, who hired Salgán for his orchestra. In late 1942 he made his first recording, and in 1944 he put together his own orchestra, which lasted until 1947. Salgán then devoted himself to composing and teaching and in 1950 returned with a new orchestra. 1960 saw the formation of the Quinteto Real, with Salgán on piano. The goal of the group was to create instrumental tangos designed for listening rather than dancing. In 1998 he appeared as himself in the Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Language Film Tango, no me dejes nunca as part of El Nuevo Quinteto Real, an incarnation of the original group. In 2005, the Konex Foundation from Argentina granted him the Diamond Konex Award, one of the most prestigious awards im Argentina. Some of Salgán's most well-known compositions include Del 1 al 5 (Días de pago) (1944), Don Agustín Bardi (1947), Entre tango y tango (1953), Grillito, La llamo silbando, Cortada de San Ignacio, and A fuego lento. [Info excerpted from Wikipedia article].
From a career profile and a published interview with Salgán at the Todotango web we learn that Salgán has had a wide range of music interest and influence in his own work spanning from not just the tango tradition of Argentina, but also covering the classical European masters, jazz and Brazilian popular music. In fact, as mentioned in the interview, Salgán's first composition and recording was a Brazilian choro titled 'Choro en Fa Sostenido'. Recently, a Brazilian pianist, Marcelo Caldi, has uploaded his version of this great composition by Salgán at YouTube, inserted below
To give you and impression of Salgán's virtuosity as a pianist and improviser, here's a TV performance with Salgán together with guitarist Ubaldo De Lio exchanging spontaneous ideas while playing the tango 'La Cumparsita'
As mentioned in the Wikipedia article, Salgán formated the Quinteto Real to create instrumental tangos designed for listening rather than dancing. This ensemble still performs the works in this genre by Salgán, and a couple of years ago the group was filmed at a tango festival. Salgán himself is taking the stool at the piano, 94 years old and still in full vigeur - enjoy this recorded sequence uploaded at YouTube
To return to the intro of this blog, it would be great to have Salgán's version of the relationship with Alemán, perhaps a journalist in Argentina already had the idea? We would certainly like to know, if this story already has been told, perhaps some of our readers can inform about this issue? Both Alemán and Salgán are important contributors to the music culture of Argentina and each of them great personalities in their chosen idiom.
Carmen Vallejo (1922- 2013), passed away, yesterday, the 20th of April, 2013 in Buenos Aires, Luis Contijoch told me …. The Argentine newspaper La Nacion headed: Murió a los 90 años la actriz Carmen Vallejo.
Oscar Alemán and Carmen Vallero in Punta del Este, Uruguay(photo: Carmen Vallejo archive)( source: Tributo a Oscar Alemán- Guillermo, José & Estanislao Iacona).
Carmen Valejo was an honored Argentine (comedy) actress and was married for more then ten years with guitarist Oscar Alemán, well known Argentine guitar player, vocalist and entertainer.
Oscar Alemán's first Quinteto de Swing (ca 1941) Oscar Alemán had returned to his homeland Argentina in 1940 when German Nazis has captured the French capital Paris …………. In Argentina he had to find a living as a musician and started his first Quinteto de Swing …… Volví a la Argentina el 24 de diciembre de 1940, con 84 pesos, pasándola fiero (= I returned to Argentina on the 24th of December, 1940, with 84 pesos .. having a very hard time ) ( source: Tributo a Oscar Alemán- Guillermo, José & Estanislao Iacona). He founded a quintet, featuring the (later) famous violin playerHernan Oliva, Dario Quaglia (rhythm guitar), Andres Alvarez bass and Ramon Caravaca on drums. With this quintet he performed in local clubs, like the Gong, a night club in Buenos Aires. Carmen Vallero with her relatives at Oscar's former appartement to unveil a plaque (June 2008) ( Photo courtesy Daniel Cossarini and Jorgelina Alemán ) During this period he must have met Carmen Vallejo, who was a young attractive actress. Carmen remembered her first meeting with Oscar at a Belgrano radio studio. Just before the program would start he came in with his guitar: ...... se presentó, pidió permiso y tomando el instrumento y apoyando un pie en una silla arrancó con "Falsa bahiana", que además cantó (= … introduced himself, asked for permission, held the instrument, put a foot on a chair and started to play and sing the song "Falsa bahiana.") ( source: Tributo a Oscar Alemán- Guillermo, José & Estanislao Iacona). He told Carmen that he would wait until the radio program had finished and so he did: Finalmente, al concluir el programa, resultó que me esperaba para llevarme a mi casa en bicicleta ( When the program had finished, he gave me a ride by bike to my house). ( source: Tributo a Oscar Alemán- Guillermo, José & Estanislao Iacona). Carmen even remembered that Oscar was wearing short pants and a waist-line jacket, not very common in those days. They fell in love and lived together for ten years. Carmen Vallejo (2008) ( Photo courtesy Daniel Cossarini and Jorgelina Alemán )
Their apartments were located in the same area and Oscar used to play Hombre mio under her window to wake her up ….. They would dine out at Sibarita …… a German restaurant in Suipacha Street. Nos divertíamos mucho porque Oscar era chaplinesco. Una mezcla de Chaplin con Danny Kaye. (= We had a lot of fun, because Oscar was really a funny guy, something between Charles Chaplin and Danny Kay) Carmen Vallejo told the Iacona’s who wrote Oscar’s biography; Tributo a Oscar Alemán.
Love to share a fragment of an Argentine TV soap, the kind of programs, the the general public remembers Carmen Vallejo best ....
In April 1944 Selva was born and four years later India Morena. The young family moved to Lanús where they bought a house. Oscar was, in those days, at the top of his popularity – he had his own radio programs and was the star to sing in large dance halls all around Argentina. Carmen was a sought after actress and had to perform almost constantly ….. She became also a well known and popular actress, which Oscar didn’t like, because people recognized her on the streets, which made him jealous ... …..He wanted her to stop performing! Carmen Vallejo with her relatives (2008) ( Photo courtesy Daniel Cossarini and Jorgelina Alemán )
Owing to force of circumstances Oscar started to drink and their relations had to end ……. Carmen remembered him as a good and generous man … A Oscar lo salvó la música; era todo música, tanto que ni él mismo fue capaz de darse cuenta de lo que era ( = Oscar was saved by music, he was music, so much that he didn’t realized it himself) ….. Late 1950s they had to divorce.
Jorgelina Alemán in a concert,in a tribute to her grandfather (2009) ( Photo courtesy Daniel Cossarini and Jorgelina Alemán ) Oscar and Carmen’s daughter Selva became a well known actress and film star and his granddaughter would follow in her grandpa’s footsteps: Jorgelina - she would become a jazz vocalist, keeping Oscar’s heritage alive.
We hope, Selva, India, Jorgelina, Daniel and all their relatives, will accept our condolences on the death of their mother and grandmother Carmen Vallejo!
Hans Koert - Jørgen Larsen - editorsOscar Alemán blog