Monday, October 13, 2008

El Perrito de Oscar

When I started searching and collecting recordings by Oscar Alemán, one of the items hard to find a copy of was the shown LP, En Todos Los Ritmos, from the Redondel label (L-809), recorded September 1974. I already had second-hand copies of Redondel, SL-10.508, Alemán ´72, and Redondel, SL-10.511, Oscar Alemán con Jorge Anders (1973), both of them aquired through auctions at an American mail-order company specializing in guitar records. However, the Redondel, L-809 seemed to be unobtainable, so I decided to get in contact with other collectors of Oscar Alemán recordings. But where were they? There still ought to be some people out there interested in the music of Oscar Alemán, although I knew I wouldn't find them in my neighbourhood. I decided to become a member of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors (IAJRC) to increase the possibility of having contact with keen collectors, who actually might have a copy of Redondel, L-809 and perhaps were willing to share a cassette copy of the record. I was lucky, during my membership through a couple of years I had mail contact with a couple of jazzrecord-collectors interested in Alemán's recorded legacy - I had two cassette-copies of Redondel, L-809 and was more than satisfied with the music. And then suddenly a secondhand copy of the LP was available for purchase at the American mail-order company mentioned above. I ordered it at once and finally got my copy of this much wanted item.

The description above reflects the struggle and frustration shared by many collectors of Alemán's recorded output, I know. However, in my case the struggle paid off - I had my copy of the wanted LP. The process of searching the record may have been a frustrating affair, but like a dog searching his master, I found my way home as described. - The music on the record may also be considered Oscar's home during his last years. We have three jazz standards from his repertoire - 'China Boy', 'Whispering' and 'Joe Louis', here performed in a quartet setting leaving Alemán the chance to show off genuine solos and ensemble interplay. There is also an ensemble rendition of Pixinguinha's 'Carinhoso' - the Brasilian choro anthem (- in fact, I have read somewhere that another choro, Alemán's own 'Casi Bueno', also was planned and recorded during this session, but never released by Redondel - can somebody confirm?). However, highlights of the tunes released on Redondel L-809 are the five solo recordings of guitar artistry by the master alone in the studio. We have a version of 'Oscar Blues', a reading of an Argentine folkloric dance tune titled 'El Chama', the re-working of the first part of Alemán's signature tune 'Hombre Mio' into a tango dedicated to Horacio Salgan, ' Al Gran Horacio Salgan'. And of course we also have Alemán's incredible solo rendition of the tango par excellence, 'La Cumparsita' - the definitive version for solo guitar leaving countless other versions miles behind; it's a well chosen composition to end the record, there's nothing more to say after this version!

The last solo tune not yet mentioned is a composition by Alemán titled 'El Perrito de Oscar' (- meaning ' Oscar's dog' in English). This tune reflects the Argentine roots of Alemán's guitarplaying technique incorporating tricks and licks used by gauchos accompanying the traditional malambo dance. Probably Alemán always remembered that he had won a malambo dancing contest as a kid of six years of age, at least the rhythm and spirit of malambo is recognizable throughout the tune.

To end this, I insert a video performance of a malambo played by solo guitarist Cacho Tirao

On October the 14th it is 28 years since Oscar Alemán passed away.