Josephine Baker, born in St. Louis Missouri (USA) June 1906, passed away April 1975 after a turbulent life. She was a dancer and entertainer, night club star and after the Second World War she became known for her 12 adopted children of various nationalities. But above all - she was the symbol for the 1920s Roaring Twenties in Paris ....For me, Josephine Baker, was one of the close friends of Oscar Alemán, who played in her revue orchestra, The Baker Boys during the 1930s in Paris.
Josephine Baker, who needed early 1930s a guitar player for her band had heard Oscar Aleman playing in Les Loups, a Hawaiian guitar duo with Gaston Bueno Lobo and Oscar Alemán, both Argentine born musicians, who formed a duo which became part of the Harry Fleming revue that travelled through Europe. Oscar Alemán became part of the Baker Boys and went on tour across Europe during the 1930s. When famous band leaders, like Duke Ellington wanted to have Oscar in their bands, Josephine must have answered: Where do I find a guy that sings in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian; that can dance, is black and touch guitar, cavaquinho, pandeiro, bass, drums and that besides: he is a good person and now you want to take it from me? It is said that Josephine liked Oscar, because she could speak Spanish to him, and, although Oscar couldn't read any music, he even became, late 1930s, the leader of the Baker's Boys.
It is strange, that in most biographies about Josephine Baker's life ( and there are a lot of publication about her), there is but few information about Oscar Aleman. Naked at the Feast by Lynn Haney has no entry at all ..... and in The Josephine Baker Story by Ean Wood it has only one entry of 5 lines. When I once asked Ean Wood why he had only one entry he said; Well that's all I have ... mind you're the expert !!
Oscar Aleman in Josephine Baker's revue. Oscar is the man next to Josephine with the guitar.
Isn't it great to walk along the historical inner city of Ghent, searching for interesting shops with secondhand books or records ( I didn't find one last week !!) and find this very nice restaurant? On Wednesday the restaurant was closed, but the design inside looks great, according to its informative website. And the food must be great too if you have such a good taste in music - I suppose !!
Hans Koert - firstname.lastname@example.org
This contribution is also posted at the Keep Swinging blog as Josephine Baker in Ghent: an unexpected meeting.