Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oscar Alemán in Europe 1959 - part one

 OSCAR ALEMÁN's 1959 trip to Spain rememberedLa famosa Orquesta Argentina de Exhibición Oscar Aleman
Hans Koert

Oscar Alemán in Europe 1959 - part one (English) | Oscar Alemán in Europe 1959 - part two (English) | Oscar Alemán bezoekt Europa 1959: deel 1 (Nederlands) | Oscar Alemán bezoekt Europa 1959: deel 2 (Nederlands) 

 A few months ago I was pointed by Gustavo Lecha, editor and founder of the Zonadejazz site, to an interesting thesis by Vicent Lluís Fontelles Rodríguez, entitled Jazz a la ciutat de Valencia - subtitled Orígens i desenvolupament fins a les acaballes del 1981. It was written in the local language of Valencia, the valenciano.  Thanks to a translation in Spanish, Lecha sent me, and a translation in English by Luis Contijoch,  I can now inform you about Oscar Alemán's trip to Spain in 1959.  The first part will inform you about a concert in Valencia and about his previous trip to Europe, early 1930s, which would be the start of a stay of ten years. The second part will inform you about his return to Argentine after ten years in Europe and more about the trip to Spain 1959. 

 Announcement for the Valencia concert by the Orquesta Argentina de Exhibición. (source: Las Provincias (p.11) (4th of August 1959) ( photo courtesy: Vicent Lluís Fontelles Rodríguez )

On Tuesday, the 4th of August, 1959 the quiz of Radio Valencia "En pos de la fama"  was completed. This event was scheduled in La Plaza de Toros arena of the city, featuring several artists. Among them was the Argentine jazz guitar player Oscar Aleman, directing, as the news papers reads, his "Orquesta Argentina de Exhibición" (also shown as "Orquesta Argentina de Jazz"), a group which played for the first time in Spain. The advertisement reads: Radio El Mundo, de Buenos Aires, presenta por primare vez en España, la famoas Orquesta Argentina de Exhibición Oscar Aleman.
Oscar Alemán ( source: Oscar Alemán - La figura intacta)

 For Oscar the late 1950s learned that his kind of music was no longer popular music.  New music, Rock & Roll, born in the US, conquered Argentina and the tango and jazz became old fashioned music styles. Oscar also drunk to much. His excessive drinking caused him troubles on stage during concerts.  He had to go to hospital suffering some stomach ulcers. His relation with Liliana Rodriguez stopped. In 1959 he was invited for a tour to Spain, Switzerland and Portugal, probably organized by Radio El Mundo from Buenos Aires (Argentina). In Spain he met Maria Teresa Benito Berranco, who became his girl friend. She lived in Zaragosa and was twelve years younger then Oscar. But his excessive drinking caused also troubles in Spain and after some months the members of the orchestra wanted to return to Argentina.
 The band was broken and Oscar returned to Buenos Aires too. It is unknown to me if Oscar visited Switzerland and Portugal to play, as  planned - maybe someone can inform me about that. Maria Teresa Barranco followed him to South America and in 1962 they married and found a house at Maipu, an apartment, where he and Maria would live the rest of their lives. 
Another anouncement for the Valencia concert by the Orquesta Argentina de Exhibición. (source: Las Provincias (p. 11) (4th of August 1959) ( photo courtesy: Vicent Lluís Fontelles Rodríguez )  
The show, presented by Radio Valencia, entitled "En pos de la fama", was a kind of contest between young talented musicians. Except Oscar Alemán labeled in an advertisement as Orquesta Argentina de Jazz, also the band of Miguelito Valdes was invited, in which violinist Xavier Cugat played, who had a great hit with the tune: Perfidia. It seems that the concert by Oscar Alemán was not a success, because of a some heavy weather, which brought a lot of rain - the concert was a washout in both senses of the word. It is also said that most visitors and musicians of the evening were not really interested to listen to the (jazz) music Oscar played.   It must have frustrated Oscar and his men.

Les Loups ( featuring Oscar Alemán (left) and Gaston Lobo ( ca. 1929)

  Oscar Aleman had been in Spain before - He came to Spain in 1929 with the Harry Fleming band as part of Les Loups and stayed, after Harry Flemings band broke, for two years in Madrid. The story tells that Josephine Baker, the leading US lady of entertainment in those days, living in Paris, searching for a guitarist, had heard about Oscar Alemán and asked him to join The Baker Boys, the house band of her revue. Oscar's duo partner in Les Loups, master of the hawaiian guitar, Gastón Bueno Lobo, was not invited by Josephine and returned, frustrated, to South America. A lot of speculations about what happened to Gastón after his return to Argentina - he attempted suicide - were studied by Jorgen Larsen and published in the Oscar Aleman blog.
Oscar Alemán and Svend Asmussen and their group in Copenhagen (Denmark)(December 1938)  ( Hans Koert archive)
While in Paris, Oscar discovered the music of the US guitar - violin duo Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti and played with the local stars Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.

Oscar Alemán at a jam session at the Zevende Jazzwereldfeest in Scheveningen ( The Netherlands) ( 1939) ( Hans Koert archive)
Oscar toured along Europe with the Josephine Baker revue a few months each year and well known is his visit to Copenhagen, where he recorded December 1938, with Svend Asmussen, then a young promising violin player, who was invited to accompany Josephine Baker during her Danish shows. A year later he was one of the star guests at the Zevende Jazzwereldfeest in Scheveningen, the beach resort of The Hague (The Netherlands).
Dit artikel verschijnt als Oscar Alemán bezoekt Europa 1959: deel 1 op de Keep (it) Swinging blog.
Thanks to Vicent Lluís Fontelles Rodríguez, Luis Contijoch  and Gustavo Lecha

Hans Koert