Friday, June 13, 2008

Montmartre Blues

70 years ago, on the 13th of June 1938, Oscar Alemán took part as a sideman in a recording session in Paris for the Swing label. The session may have been organized by Charles Delauney, head of Disques Swing and HCF. The recordings were labeled as EDDIE BRUNNER ET SON ORCHESTRE and were issued on three 78 rpms, SW 30 , SW 41 and SW 55. Five tunes were recorded: IN A LITTLE SPANISH TOWN (mx OSW-27-1), I DOUBLE DARE YOU (mx OSW-28-1), BAGATELLE (mx OSW-29-1), MONTMARTRE BLUES (mx OSW-30-1) and MARGIE (mx OSW-31-1, a second take was rejected). According to available discographical info participating musicians were as follows: Eddie Brunner (cl ts dir), Bill Coleman (tp), Alix Combelle (ts), Noël Chiboust (ts), Herman Chittison (p), Oscar Alemán (g), Roger Grasset (b), Tommy Benford (dm). Check online Oscar Alemán discography for further details, click here
The five recorded sides belong to the memorable recordings by Oscar Alemán from his stay in Europe, although he only has a brief solo on MONTMARTRE BLUES, which is one of his first recorded solos showing off his unique concept of jazz guitar playing. Norwegian jazzcritic, Jan Evensmo, commented Alemán's contribution in the session this way:
"It is a waste of talent to let Alemán concentrate on accompaniment. However, he has one interesting solo on "Montmartre Blues", where he proves his originality. His sound bears the stamp of latin music and the long tradition of the Spanish guitar, it is ripe and very beeautiful. First he plays an original single string phrase around the basic rhythm, and then he changes to mainly chords. These are highly personal and identify their creator immediately."
The music on all five sides is top class Euro-Swing of the late 1930s, reissued on the shown cd below.
Leader of the pick-up band was Eddie Brunner,as labeled. Eddie Brunner (1912-1960) was the most important Swiss hot-jazz soloist of his time, his playing of the saxophone and clarinet was influenced by the style of Coleman Hawkins and Eddie Miller.He began his career working with local bands. Then, in 1931, he joined saxophonist Rent Dumont's orchestra in Berlin. In 1933, he recorded with brothers Jack and Louis de Vries, and violinist Marek Weber band; during 1936-'37 with the Goldene Sieben; and in 1939 with Louis Bacon. From 1938 onwards, he occasionally recorded as a leader,- usually playing Clarinet. During 1936-'39, he lived in Paris, France, returning to Switzerland at the outbreak of World War II, where he joined Teddy Stauffer's Original Teddies as a tenor saxophone soloist. In 1941, Stauffer left and Brunner took over leadership until disbanding in 1947. During the 1940s, he recorded prolifically, both with the "Original Teddies" and under his own name. In 1944, he recorded with Philippe Brun. In 1948, he led his own sextet, playing and recording well into the 1950s. He also worked in the radio and television studios.

Eddie Brunner composed and arranged MONTMARTRE BLUES and BAGATELLE from the mentioned session above, and especially MONTMARTRE BLUES remains a memorable recording regarding Alemán's contribution, a worthy sign of his genius left to posterity, lasting for as long as a plaque of honor on the wall revealed on the 13th of June 2008, we do hope.



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