Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An Interview with Waldo Fonseca of Hot Club de Boedo by Luis Liber

Waldo Fonseca
Waldo Fonseca is one of the last exponents of the school of Argentine hot guitarists initiated by Oscar Alemán and continued by Eduardo Ravera. He is the founder of the "Hot Club de Boedo", a cultural project and a string swing ensemble that preserves the aesthetic of the style of jazz once played by Alemán and Ravera. Waldo is a tall and kind man, with the warmth of a bohemian musician. At his home, in the town of Caballito, Buenos Aires, we had a friendly talk.

" Around the end of the eighties, I got in contact with Eduardo "Zurdo" Ravera, who came to my house in Caballito to hear the swing-guitar group I had with my brother." - In the seventies, Eduardo Ravera had been the rhythm guitar of Oscar Alemán at several occasions, and further the first guitar of violinist Hernán Oliva`s Quintet (Chachi Zaragoza was another member).
"Eduardo took a lot of affection on me, because he thought we had "revived" him. He gave me a lot of scales exercises and he marked me for a long time how to play the rhythm guitar properly (moving the wrist, not the arm!)." We all know how difficult it is to play right the pompe manouche.
Eduardo Ravera and Waldo Fonseca (1993)
"I played the rhythm in our live performances, till the day Ravera told me "Maestrito, go on" and he let me do the solo."
Waldo Fonseca (left) with Eduardo Ravera (right) and ensemble
"In those days, "el Zurdo" (Lefthanded) had only limited motion in his right arm, so he had to lift it with his left hand and literally hang it from the fretboard. He played an acoustic "Repiso" guitar which sounded terrific."
Eduardo Ravera playing his Repiso
Waldo knows a lot of anecdotes about Oscar through Ravera. Here are three untold:
Alemán used to say that a guitarist must play "standing up" to be more effective (he was right if we think on the modern and spectacular rock guitarists!).
One day Oscar told Eduardo: "Try to play like yourself, not like me, because there is just one and only Alemán."
Alemán had the "nervous gesticulation" of touching his face with the tips of his fingers, as if he tried to take the colour of his skin off. Poor Oscar; but imagine that he had lived in a time when black people suffered discrimination in Buenos Aires (and in all the world).

"Jazz was my first love", says Waldo, "and I cultivate Gardel and Alemán`s style of straight playing. My others indirect teachers, from whom I learned through the records and performances, were Django, Hernán Oliva (Waldo is a fan, he has all his records!!) and bandoneonist Aníbal Troilo." - Waldo adds that the most original jazz musicians of Argentina are... the tango musicians!
"I have a worn "Fonseca" electro-acoustic guitar, but I`d like to play a "Selmer". As far as I remember, Oscar and the tango guitarist Ubaldo de Lio were the only guitarists who had a Selmer in Argentina."

Waldo and the boys at ease, enjoy!

Luis 'Tito' Liber

Monday, May 11, 2015

Oscar Alemán . La Guitarra Embrujada

A couple of weeks ago history professor and journalist, Sergio A. Pujol, has published his book titled Oscar Alemán—La guitarra embrujada (- in English: Oscar Alemán—The Haunted Guitar, Planeta de Libros (340 páginas), Buenos Aires, Argentina), his biography of  Oscar Alemán. I have not seen a copy of the book yet, but below I'll add some links to guide readers who are familiar with the Spanish language to further info.

The publisher's info about Pujol's book is accessible here

 Argentinian paper Página 12 carried an excerpt of the book, here

Finally, Sergio Pujol was interviewed about the book in a radio program at 221 Radio. Part of the interview was filmed and uploaded at YouTube in two videos, inserted below

Here's the second filmed extract of the broadcasted interview

I look forward to reactions from readers who have had access to Pujol's book. Reviews in Spanish and/or English are also most welcome.  Contact me at the e-mail below. Thank you in advance for your collaboration!