Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Oscar Alemán And The Blues

Original sheet music (1914)
It has been said that Oscar Alemán never was a 'blues man',  implying that his concept of jazz did not include the Afro-American music genre known as 'blues', an important source in the original versions of jazz rooted in New Orleans' music culture and practice. However, the statement should be modified, if 'the blues' is not just the musical style that originated in the Southern states of USA around 1900 and was performed by amateurs and local pick-up ensemples at social events in mainly black Afro-American societies long before the music spread to other parts of the country via radio networks and 'race' records. Innovative tunesmiths and music publishers like W.C. Handy (1873-1958), known as 'father of the blues', were soon aware of the commercial opportunities of the blues and took advantage of the music by publishing their own versions of blues as sheet music which became popular hits with the public even before WW 1. W.C. Handy's Saint Louis Blues (published 1914) was among his most popular songs and was quickly adopted by the mainstream music business as an example of the original version of the blues style. Countless musicians and jazz bands have since incorporated Saint Louis Blues in their repertoire and the tune is a fundamental part of the jazz standard book, still performed today by traditional jazz orchestras. 
Alemán performing St. Louis Blues
It is from the tradition paved by W.C. Handy Aleman´s concept of the blues  originates, I think. Fact is that the mentioned Saint Louis Blues was a part of Alemán's repertoire throughout his career in Argentina from 1940 and on. Already at one of his first public performances after his return to Argentina from Europe, Saint Louis Blues is presented and elaborated as a great vehicle for his improvisational skills both as a musician and entertainer. Luckily, a test recording from this live performance October 14, 1941 at Teatro Casino in Buenos Aires has been saved and documents Alemán's rousing and roof raising version of Saint Louis Blues as a solo piece of improvised music for guitar, vocal and stomping feet! The audio of this performance was kindly forwarded by Andrés 'Tito' Liber and is inserted below

Alemán recorded Saint Louis Blues commercially twice, the first version was recorded by Odeon January 30 1953 featuring Alemán's Orquesta de Jazz (mx 18802, Odeon 55613 and LDS119). The tune is here a great vehicle for his improvisational skills as a guitar player in the applied solos.

The next time Alemán recorded Saint Louis Blues was in May 1973 at the session for the Redondel label with Jorge Anders' orchestra issued on Redondel SL-10511. This version has also been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below

Alemán composed and recorded two tunes which were titled Oscar Blues No. 1 and Oscar Blues No. 3, both recorded for Redondel - the first mentioned on Redondel L-809 made September 1974, the other was issued on the Alemán '72 LP (Redondel, SL 10.508) recorded Sept.-Oct. 1972. Both tunes are solo pieces for guitar, here is Oscar Blues No. 3 inserted below

Collectors of Alemán's output may have wondered, if there also exists a tune titled Oscar Blues No. 2 although never recorded officially. I don't have the answer to that question, but instead like to point to a saved untitled home-recording from c. 1971 in much the same style and mood as the two known pieces titled Oscar Blues. Thus, below is inserted a possible Oscar Blues No. 2 to end this


Sunday, October 02, 2016

3° Encuentro de Jazz de Cuerdas "Oscar Alemán"

Program front
For the third time, Hot Club de Boedo of Buenos Aires has arranged an encounter of musicians, friends and fans of Oscar Alemán's musical heritage. This time the program was a homage to Alemán's pupil and great admirer, Eduardo Ravera, commemorating the 20th anniversary of his passing away. The event took place at the Asociación de Fomento y Biblioteca Popular General Alvear in Buenos Aires on September 17th. - Andrés 'Tito' Liber forwarded some impressions to share with readers of this blog.
Program menu
The show was hosted by Waldo Fonseca, the director of Hot Club de Boedo. The following musicians and friends participated in the show:
Hot Club de Boedo (Waldo Fonseca, Juan Masculino, Julián Pierángeli, Facundo López Goitía, Ezeqiel Bahillo); Luis Pranzetti (guitar), Mariana Gasloli (bass), Claudio Spirito (guitar), Gustavo Villanueva (clarinet); Carla Rossi (harmonica) and Gerardo Bourlot (guitar) from Ensamble Colón; Andrés 'Tito' Liber (cavaquinho); Héctor Luis Corpus (guitar), Claudio Daniel Crespino (guitar); Luana Hari (lady-crooner). Comments by José María Bover.
In advance of the show the event was promoted at Radio del Pueblo, BA. A photo was shot in the studio showing the presence of Andrés 'Tito' Liber, Heldo and Waldo Fonseca
'Tito', Heldo and Waldo promoting the show at Radio del Pueblo, BA
Highlights of the show were the musical performance of the following:
My Melancholy Baby. A great solo by master Luis Pranzetti, the guitarist  who played in the Santa María Jazz band and accompanied Eduardo Ravera.
Summertime. Played by a nice duet, from the Ensemble Colón, of harmonica and guitar; interesting counterpoint with a bluesy tinge.
OA 1926. For the first time in Argentina, since the old days of Oscar Alemán, a man playing jazz live on a cavaquinho.
It Don`t Mean a Thing if It Ain`t Got That Swing.  The boys of the Hot Club de Boedo, wonderful as ever with this Ellington standard.
When the Saints Go Marchin` in. At the end of the show, a classic sing-along with the audience.
Participating musicians all together in performance
Another group photo of participating performers of a swinging night. Always smiling!
The team
Andrés 'Tito' Liber, September 2016