Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Oscar Alemán and Ton Van Bergeyk

The Dutch guitarist Ton Van Bergeyk (b.1953) is to my knowledge one of very few contemporary players, who understands and has found inspiration in Oscar Alemán's guitarstyle. Beeing a most capable fingerpicker in the early 1970'ies Ton was at one point contacted by the American folkblues guitarist and recordproducer, Stefan Grossman, who at that time had his own label, Kicking Mule Records, as a division of Sonet Records in England. Stefan Grossman had Ton Van Bergeyk to record three solo guitar albums during the 7o'ies on Kicking Mule Records, furthermore he contributed on more compilations by various artists on the same label. Listening to these recordings by Ton Van Bergeyk was a revelation to other fingerpickers, who struggled to elevate a level of mediocre picking, - a profound and lasting inspiration, because Ton actually did what others only were able to dream of. Among fingerpickers Ton was known as 'The Dutch Wizard', and some of this wizardry still comes alive when listening to his recording of 'I Got Rhythm' from 1976. This three part rendition of the Gershwin jazzstandard has Ton paying his dues to Oscar Alemán's reading of the tune, he uses the same intro and shares licks and tricks with Oscar's interpretation. As a matter of fact, to me this is the only version of 'I Got Rhythm', which recreates Oscar Alemán's concept of the tune without copying it, but 'steelin' apples' from the same tree - if you dig my figurative speaking.Ton's recording of 'I Got Rhythm' was released on a Kicking Mule compilation with the same title, and this album also has another Alemán rendition by Ton: an absolutly incredible and amazing reading of Oscar's first composition, 'OA 1926', played as a solo fingerpicking piece on ukulele! Even today this recording will knock any aspiring fingerpicker dead, as Ton recreates Oscar's reading of the tune with ease and again without copying, but with a profound understanding of Oscar's music and way of playing. On his third solo album from 1980, 'Lulu's Back In Town', Ton has two more rendtions of tunes connected with Alemán, a beautiful reading of 'Hombre Mio' (Man of Mine), that recreates Oscar's ensemble recording of the tune from September 1952, further a version of 'Nobody's Sweetheart' that shares licks and tricks with Oscar's own solo version of the tune, recorded in December 1938 in Copenhagen.- If you haven't heard these recordings by the Dutch Wizard, they are certainly worth searching - they will reveal a deeper understanding of Oscar Alemán's playing and concept of music as well.
A Ton Van Bergeyk discography of Kicking Mule recordings is available here


If you want a scribble each time an Aleman blog is posted, I love to do so. Please send me your email address and you'll be inserted in the mailing list. Durium


Post a Comment

<< Home