Monday, October 22, 2007

Oscar Aleman remembered

( Traduzca este texto al español)

This time a personal remembrance to Oscar Aleman by guest contributor Fernando Gelbard from Buenos Aires, Argentina.


It was February 1949, I was 9 years old and was spending my summer vacations at my grandparent's home in Tucuman, Argentina.
My uncle Enrique Haskel was a member of the board at the Atletico Tucuman football club. They were powerful and like many other institutions and organized Bailes de Carnaval (Carnival -gigantic- Dance Events).


It has been a custom in Argentina for the football clubs to organize Carnaval dance events in which at least one "orquesta tipica" (tango group) and a "jazz" (a jazz band or non-tango group) where hired to perform every night for the people to dance while having lots of beers, wine and some snacks. Usually people were standing and there may be chairs for the ladies and their chaperons (usually their mothers). One would approach a lady and ask her: Shall we dance?
For those Carnavales in Tucuman, 1948, the Club Atletico Tucuman hired the hottest jazz group in Argentina...Oscar Aleman y su Conjunto de Swing. They signed an 80,000 pesos deal with Oscar Aleman, which was a big sum of money for the time; you could literally buy a house with that sum. My uncle took me to the bailes (dance parties). Being a nice quiet boy, I watched the people dance while sipping an orange Crush or a Bidu (an imitation of Coca Cola) and listened and watched this little dark man playing wonders with his guitar, even with the guitar in his back and still playing notes.

I remember a violin player (without doubts Hernan Oliva) and two more guitars, bass and drums. I didn't know what jazz was at the time, but I was a very musical kid, so I enjoyed every minute of it. My uncle Enrique, who didn't drink alcohol, took me every night to the club and back home in a taxi. The dance area and the stage were big, probably thousands of people. In later years as a musician I did work the carnavales and was able to have a sense of the size of the clubs (in Buenos Aires) and their audiences although jazz had already disappeared almost completely.

I do remember one night at the Club Bomberos de Etchenagucia (Etchenagucia Fireman’s Club) in which I played with some lousy band and opposite us performed The Georgians band, a who's who in the hot jazz scene at the time (1957) with musicians like Roberto “El Gordo”, “Fats” Fernandez, Nestor Astarita and others. In later years, I owned Estudios ION (ION Recording Studios) and I met again Oscar Aleman, who recorded several albums for the Redondel Label. Oscar didn't want to use headphones or record on playback, but those inconveniences where overcame and several superb albums saw the light. ION recorded many historical figures, among them Astor Piazzola, Enrique Villegas, Chivo Borraro and others. Oscar Aleman will be always in my mind and heart as a pure creator, a generator of swing and a true super star.

Fernando Gelbard (Buenos Aires - October 2007)


This contribution has also been posted in English, Dutch and Spanish at the Oscar Aleman web log.
Thanks, Fernando, for this great contribution !!
If you have a subject that should be discussed here and you love to share it with the visitors of this blog please conctact me ( keepswinging@live.nl ). Maybe you're the next guest contributor.

Español ( To the English translation )

En febrero de 1949, yo tenia 9 anos y estaba pasando mis vacaciones veraniegas en la casa de mis abuelos en Tucuman.
Mi tío Enrique Haskel era miembro de la comisión directiva del Club Atlético Tucuman.
Era un club poderoso y como otras instituciones similares, organizaba bailes de Carnaval.
Era una tradición argentina que los clubes de fútbol y otros clubes deportivos y sociales organizen bailes de Carnaval en los cuales por lo menos una orquesta típica y una “jazz” (así llamadas todas las orquestas o conjuntos que no sean típicos, o sea de tango).


En esos bailes las orquestas actuaban (por ahí un termino mas adecuado que “tocaban”) para que la gente escuche y baile, mientras consumían mucha cerveza, vino, whisky y snacks.
Usualmente, los concurrentes estaban parados y en muchos bailes había sillas para las damas y sus chaperones, en general las madres. Uno se acercaba a una dama y le preguntaba “bailamos”?


Para esos Carnavales en 1949, el Club Atlético Tucuman contrato a la “orquesta” de jazz mas famosa del momento: “Oscar Alemán y su Conjunto de Swing”. Firmaron un contrato por 80,000 pesos con Oscar Alemán. En ese momento era una gran suma de dinero, que alcanzaba para comprar una casa!.
Mi tío me llevo a los bailes y yo que era un chico obediente, miraba bailar a la gente mientras tomaba una naranja Crush o una Bidu (una imitación de Coca Cola de esa época). Escuchaba y observaba a ese hombrecito oscuro tocando maravillas con su guitarra, inclusive con la guitarra alto en su espalda haciendo notas.
Me acuerdo del violinista de la orquesta (sin dudas Hernan Oliva), dos guitarristas mas, bajo y batería. Yo no sabia lo que era “jazz” en esa época pero era un chico muy musical y disfrute cada minuto. Mi tío Enrique, quien no bebía alcohol, me llevo cada noche al club y de vuelta a la casa en un taxi.
La pista de baile y el escenario eran grandes y cabían probablemente miles de personas.
En anos sucesivos como músico yo trabaje durante los Carnavales y tuve la oportunidad de darme cuenta del tamaño de los clubes (en Buenos Aires) y de sus audiencias aunque para esa época el jazz ya había desaparecido casi del todo en esos eventos.

Me acuerdo de una noche en 1957 en los Carnavales eb el Club Bomberos de Etchenagucia en los alrededores de Buenos Aires, en la cual yo toque con un conjunto de pelagatos. La otra orquesta eran Los Georgians, la sensacional banda de hot jazz en la cual tocaban un “quien es quien” del hot jazz argentino en 1957, entre ellos Roberto “El Gordo” “Fats” Fernandez, Nestor Astarita y otros.
En años sucesivos, fui propietario de Estudios (de grabación) ION en Buenos Aires.
Me reencontré con Oscar Alemán, quien grabo varios LP para el sello Redondel. Oscar no quería usar audifonos o grabar en playback, pero esos inconvenientes fueron superados y varios discos (LP) sensacionales vieron la luz. En ION grabaron muchas figuras históricas entre ellos, Astor Piazzola, Enrique Villegas, Chivo Borraro y otros. Oscar Alemán estará siempre en mi recuerdo como un creador puro y un generador de swing, un verdadero súper star.

Fernando Gelbard (Buenos Aires - October 2007)


Fernando, por esta gran contribución.

Keep swinging

2 Comments:

Blogger Jo said...

Thanks a lot to Fernando Gelbard for sharing his remembrances with readers of this blog. It's amazing to learn how Oscar and his music had a lasting impression upon people who met him and attended his shows. Only a true artist will leave a lasting impression upon his audience, Oscar was one, no doubt!
Thanks!
Jo

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Guillermo I. said...

Hello Hans:
it is an excellenete contribution, no doubt !
Best personal rgards,
Guillermo

4:33 PM  

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