Saturday, May 13, 2006

Oscar Alemán & Bueno Lobo - 1.

When Lobo discovered Alemán in 1924 and they soon after started a partnership leading to the formation of the Les Loups duo it is said that Lobo would teach young Oscar the basics of playing the six string guitar. Further Lobo would take a role as a kind of a stepfather in his relationship with the former street urchin, thus applying a strong influence on the formation of Alemán's personality, at least from the perspective of his future role as a professional performer/musician - Lobo became Alemán's mentor and personal guide to coping the demands of a professional artist, that is. Deducing from this setting of their relationship it is not hard to believe that Lobo and Alemán tied a strong bond between them, mentally as well as practically - they became not only professional partners but depended on each others in all aspects of their common affairs. - If you listen carefully to the 16 sides recorded by the Les Loups duo from late 1927 to early 1929 on the Victor label you may have a clear view of how Lobo's and Alemán's relationship worked out professionally as performers. All recorded sessions have the same concept and setting: Lobo is playing the melody/theme in the Hawaiian slide mode (- only the B-side of their first recording, 'Criollita,' has Lobo playing the cavaquinho alternatively, probably a well considered choice of instrument, as this tune is a typical Brazilian choro). Alemán supplies the accompaniment on the six string guitar played conventionally. However, a closer listening to the interplay between Lobo and Alemán reveals the concept of music applied on the performances of the various tunes played. As mentioned Lobo is playing lead, which means he concentrates on the melody/theme repeated twice or more, while Alemán adds a very elaborate accompaniment mixing chords, bass lines and even counterpoint statements to the melody thus creating a varied and lively impression supporting the rhytmic and thematic structure of the music played. This concept of duo interplay is not at all usual in the tradition of performing music played by a Hawaiian slide guitar in a leading role accompanied by a secound guitar. Usually both melody and variation depend on the abilities and inventory of the musician playing the slide lead - in comparison just have a listen to recordings by early Hawaiian slide guitar players like i.e. Ben Hokea, Bennie Nawahi, Sam Ku West or Sol Hoopii, everything depends on the leader's capacity to yield a successfull impression upon the listener. Not so when listening to the recordings by Les Loups, the interplay between Lobo and Alemán is elaborate and complex, highly skilled and multidimensional thus creating an impression of a close dependence between the both of them. - This concept of interplay is not invented by Hawaiians but is an intrinsic element of Brazilian music to be noticed in numerous recordings by Brazilian choro-ensembles from the same time and even today. As a Brazilian Bueno Lobo probably had brought this concept with him and used it conscientiously, even in repertoire not usually connected with the Brazilian music tradition. He had created a niche for playing the Hawaiian slide guitar in his own way, supported by a young talented Alemán on secound guitar taking a role as a Brazilian choro-ensemble player in his elaborate accompaniment.
(to be continued -)



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