Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some Of These Days ...

Dear Friends,

I'm writing you this small message from my exile, the Dusty Groves Departement of Jazz Guitar Heaven. I have now waited 27 years to communicate directly with your side of God's universe, because I knew only few would be listening to my message. Most people, who knew me and cared, when I was alive and visible in your dimension, have left and come over, I meet some of them from time to time when walking the clouds to get new strings for my new custom built guitar (- light as a feather to wear and heavenly to play!).

The reason I am writing you this is that I am concerned about my legacy to the world - not that it meant to be big business when I was still alive in your dimension. However, the recordings I did are worth remembering and preserving for historic reasons - I was a part of the story of jazz outside the US during the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. From time to time critics have mentioned me and a few recordings made in Europe during the 1930s in a footnote while praising my great friend in Paris, the immortal Django. That's ok, Django was a great guitarist and a marvellous friend - always willing to share his ideas, stories and meals. When I left Europe early 1940, Django was one of the friends I made over there I missed the most. Another friend I made in 1938 was Svend Asmussen, the great Danish violin player - I still have his humour, great sense of rhythm and arrangements in mind, and I remember while leaving Europe behind aboard the ship that brought me back to Argentina a decision to make a band featuring musicians that would be able to maintain and actually perform the ideas first presented to me by Django and Svend. I had success with my two quintets in the 40s, mainly because I followed these ideas by my great European friends, I still think. Most of the 48 recordings I made with the quintets are still available, preserved on CD and issued by both American and Argentine companies, great!

The 50s were years of success with my Orquesta de Jazz, both at Radio Belgrano and in live-performances fronting an enthusiastic audience in dance halls here and there. Most of the 60 recordings made with this combination for Odeon are preserved on CDs too, and document the ideas I had developed after listening to records by great American bands like Jimmie Lunceford - and outside jazz, the Spade Cooley Western Swing congregation (- Spade probably gave me the idea of having three violins playing in unison while backing my solos). I was also deeply inspired by Brazilian music during this period, which had a certain impact on the recorded repertoire and the ideas I tried to demonstrate in my guitar playing. However, this part of my recorded output seems to be overlooked by most critics who have commented on my music, a pity. I also made a live-recording together with Hérnan Oliva in 1954 during a concert at the famous Hot Club de Buenos Aires - the only time after our break in 1943 when our tempers didn't interfere and made a riot. It's a shame that the preserved three recorded tunes from this event haven't been re-issued on a cd, another historic document that ought to be available for a new generation interested in my legacy.

The 60s brought only few issued recordings mainly due to the fact that I had retired from the music scene and didn't have a contract with a record company, The reason for my retirement was a decision to slow down a tiresome career as an entertaining artist having to be on top of things day after day, during long night performances at a club or touring in and out of town. Moreover, my health was suffering from overwork, so I had to find a new way of earning my bread. I took in students of guitar to share my conception of guitarplaying, earned only little, but survived by giving guest performances at radio and in concert from time to time together with available musicians. I most often played in a quintet setting, named Cinco Caballeros for the occasion - some of the recordings we did for radio and in studio have been issued on vinyl and cd, but most of the live-performances we did never were released on records. Collectors of my recorded legacy, however, have preserved a great part of my live-performances at radio on tapes. Also this part of my story ought to be documented on cd by a company who would take care of these recordings in collaboration with the true collectors of my recorded legacy.

I was 're-discovered' by the public in the 70s and back on stage, recording and making appearances at various club dates in and out of town. The reason for my 're-discovery' may be the fact that I met again with Duke Ellington in 1968 during his tour of South America. When arriving by plane to Buenos Aires, first thing the Duke would ask was: "Where is Oscar? Bring me Oscar!". Luckily, his Argentine manager of the tour knew me and had me re-united with my old friend from Paris. We were both invited as guests at the American embassy and had a great time together with his bandmates, remenising old days and jamming till late hours. This event was headlined in some tabloids and suddenly my name was on everyone's tongue in music business. Until this meeting with the Duke I had been out of vogue for a decade, music taste had changed in the general public - rock'n'roll was the big thing and a business for sound investment. I didn't like rock'n'roll, but I payed my due to this music by recording a version of "Rock Around the Clock" late 50s. Anyway, as mentioned, the 70s meant my come-back in the spotlight. I loved it and enjoyed recording and performing again. The recordings made for Redondel in '72, '73 and '74 luckily are preserved on cd by now, and so are the trio-recordings I made for another company in '75. However, also from this period careful collectors of my legacy have preserved live-recordings on tape that ought to be issued in a proper way by a record company.

Silence is golden, they say, so now I'll keep quiet. An angel is waiting for me to contribute a solo stament of an old favorite of mine - "Some Of These Days" by Shelton Brooks.

Yours sincerely,



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks O.A. for sharing your remembrances on this special day according the 50 years in showbiz in our web log, dedicated to your musical heritage. It would be great to hear you playing live; maybe later, when we have to move to the place where you live - maybe you should tell us where to find you, because it must be rather crowdy up there.

Keep in our minds !!

Keep swinging

The Alemaniacs

8:56 PM  

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