Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Jean, Jac & Jo - Featuring Oscar Alemán

We know that Oscar Alemán accompanied the vocal trio JEAN, JAC & JO in the 1930s and also participated in several recordings by the trio made during his stay in Paris. The trio was originally composed of Henry/Harry ( = Han) Driessen (vocal, violin), Jean Irace (vocal, guitar) and  Henri ( Enrique) Juvet (vocal, piano), like Alemán staff members of Josephine Baker's orchestra/revue in Paris and on tour. Later Marcell Herman (vocal, guitar) replaced Driessen in the trio set-up, but this probably happened after the co-work with Alemán, which lasted from 1934 to 1938.
Baker revue, late 1931-1932, Han Driessen (l), Alemán, JB, unknown sax player and Jean Irace (r)
Around the summer of 1934, after a half year tour through Europe Oscar Alemán and Jean, Jac & Jo left the Josephine Baker revue. The vocal trio performed in famous Paris cabarets like L' Européen, L' Allambra and the Casino de Paris. Twelve  records from the vocal trio acc. by Oscar Alemán on guitar and various percussion were made during the next four years starting in November 1934. You can look them up in the online Alemán discography following this link and further have access to the scarce info and documentation available on the Jean, Jac & Jo trio, here. 

Unfortunately, very few of the recorded sides by Jean, Jac & Jo featuring Alemán have been re-issued and the original 78 rpm discs are hard to find. However, I found a couple of YouTube videos that have the audio of two sides, which feature Oscar Alemán as a sideman according available discographical info. The shown 'Isabelita' was recorded for Pathé in the first listed session featuring Alemán on November 23th, 1934. There is a small error in the online disco, as the matrix number of 'Isabelita' according the shown label is CPT 1636 (- not CPT 1637 as listed in the discography), however, the disc number PÅ 435 is correct. 'Isabelita' is a rumba, music composed by Enrique Juvet and lyrics in French by Max Erlange, the arrangement is presented on the label as "Fantaisistes vocaux avec accomp. de Guitare et Piano, chantée par JEAN, JAC et JO". Personnel according the discography are: Harry ( = Han) Driessen (voc, v), Oscar Alemán  (g, maraccas), Jean Irace (g, voc), Henri ( Enrique) Juvet (voc, p). - Listening to the audio it is not easy to determine, if Alemán is the guitar player - the few measures of audible guitar sound like a tenor guitar and may be played by Jean Irace, however, you can hear the percussive marracas as handled by Alemán accompanying the vocal contributions by the trio and the piano played by Juvet.

The close harmony, male vocal contributions by Jean, Jac & Jo were highly in vogue in Europe during the 1930s, other popular ensembles like the German Comedian Harmonists a.o. presented vocal arrangements in the same style that was popular in caberets and with an audience prefering music drawn from an European light classical repertoire. Nevertheless, Alemán's maraccas in the recording of 'Isabelita' add the necessary, 'exsotic' atmosphere to this French version of a rumba.

The shown disc features the tune 'There's a Small Hotel' (Hart-Rodgers) as performed by Jean, Jac & Jo recorded in February 1937 for Pathé in Paris (CPT 3146-1, Pathé PA-1136). The line-up of the trio is the same as above according the discographical online info with Alemán added on guitar, but the label only states "JEAN, JAC ET JO s'accompagnant eux-mêmes". The lyrics are in French and the sheet music that was published also has the title in French as 'C'est un nid charmant'
Like the performance of 'Isabelita' the close harmony vocals of the trio are in focus here, but the accompaniement of piano and violin also gets some spots and the supposed guitar of Alemán once again sounds like a tenor model. However, I'll point you to the uploaded audio from YouTube to let you get an impression more of Jean, Jac & Jo in performance on one of the few available 78 rpm discs still accessible and here in a well known American standard in the trio's own arrangement. The uploaded video at YouTube of the audio cannot be inserted, but here is the link.


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