Thursday, January 21, 2010

HOMBRE MIO - Man Of Mine

'Hombre Mio' (in English: 'Man of Mine') was the signature tune of Oscar Alemán during his career in Argentina from 1940-1980. The tune was composed by Alemán in 1932 with another title, but according to some sources it was renamed into the now known title by Josephine Baker during Alemán's cooperation with the diva during the 1930s in Europe. Alemán, however, did not record the tune until much later, but it may have been part of his repertoire or set list when performing solo in Baker's stage shows. Further, the tune may have been among the stock of music scores used by Baker's orquestre, as there exists a handwritten copy of the tune in standard notation from this period. The handwritten music is penned out and given the title 'Man of Mine' by none other than Spencer Williams, the well known composer, musician and publisher from New Orleans, renown for composing jazz classics like "Basin Street Blues","Mahogany Hall Stomp", "Royal Garden Blues", "I Found a New Baby" and "Squeeze Me" (with Fats Waller) a.o.
Spencer Williams (1889-1965) had come to Paris in 1925 where he wrote songs and arrangements for Josephine Baker 1925-1928. After a short return to the US where he made several recordings for Okeh Records 1930, Williams took permanent residence in Europe from 1932. He was back in Paris 1932 with Fats Waller and later relocated to England where he stayed until 1951. His last years Williams lived in Stockholm, Sweden.
In one of the anecdotes told about Alemán from his stay in Paris it is said that during a stage performance in 1939, which was attended by Louis Armstrong in the audience, the famous trumpet player was highly enthusiastic and felt inspired to join Alemán in a performance of 'Hombre Mio/Man of Mine', but as he had not brought his trumpet, he choose to blow just the mouthpiece, which he always carried in his pocket. Still according to the anecdote, it is said that Armstrong improvised over 40 variations of the tune blowing his mouthpiece, the situation is mentioned in Hernán Gaffet's documentary on Alemán,"Vida con Swing" (2002), and it is further illustrated as shown above in the artwork by Gani Iacubi from his book, 'Le roi invisible'(2009).
The initial recording of 'Hombre Mio' was made 2 June, 1942 by OA y su Quinteto de Swing at the third session by the group for Odeon and was released on the above shown Odeon 78 rpm disc (Odeon, 45800-B) with the English title, 'Man of Mine'; the other side of the disc featured andother Alemán original, "Rezeze", recorded at the same session. - The Odeon disc, however, is not the first recording of 'Hombre Mio/Man of Mine', as there exists a transcription disc featuring 'Hombre Mio' recorded at the Teatro Casino in B.A. from 14 October 1941; it was recorded during a transmitted live performance by 'Oscar Alemán y su Quarteto de Cuerdas' and was saved as a test recording by Discos Ayacucho. We have not been able to hear this transcription recording, it was never issued for commercial purchase and has not shown up among collector so far, thus, it's not possible to decide, if the performance of the tune differs from the initial Odeon recording from 2 June 1942.
The second time Alemán recorded 'Hombre Mio' for Odeon was at a session featuring OA y su Orquesta on 29 September 1952 where 3 other tunes were recorded, too. As shown above, the tune was released on Odeon 55511-B, the other side of the disc featured a recording of 'Tengo Ritmo'. This version of 'Hombre Mio' differs from the initial Odeon recording by the quintet, it is played at a slower tempo, the theme and second section is performed by violins only and Alemán is mainly present in front through his improvisation half way through the recording. Nevertheless, this version of 'Hombre Mio' belongs to one of the best and most inspired recordings by OA y su Orquesta, as the recording represents a balanced rendition of the tune, both marking the contributions by the ensemble and the well executed and economical solo by the leader, indeed, a worthy rendition of Alemán's signature tune!
Next time Alemán recorded a version of 'Hombre Mio' was not until after his rediscovery around 1970, the tune was now featured on the album 'Alemán '72' (REDONDEL SL-10508) from Sept-Oct 1972 and performed in a quintet setting once again. This version has Alemán in front throughout the tune, the accompaniment by three rhythm guitar players, bass and drums sets the contributions by Alemán in focus - the music is laidback and his solo, resembling the one at the initial recording from 1942, is particularily well executed and incorporates many of the finesses in his playing known from this period of his career. A video featuring the audio only of this recording has been uploaded at YouTube - enjoy!

Among the several unissued recordings from live performance in radio, TV and concert saved by keen collectors on tape 'Hombre Mio' is frequently played as part of the set list, in ensemble or occasionally also as a solo performance by Alemán alone with his guitar. Further, it is from these saved airshots and live performance fragments we know for sure that 'Hombre Mio' was Alemán's signature tune. The theme of the tune was most often played by the accompanying musicians when the speaker of a radio or TV program introduced Alemán, this way 'Hombre Mio' of course would be immideatly connected with the performer now in focus, a signature to be remembered.
It is also worth mentioning that Alemán re-used first section of 'Hombre Mio' and transformed it into a tango in the 1970s in another original composition dedicated as a tribute to his long time friend, Horacio Salgán, the famous pianist, composer and bandleader renown from his contributions to the 'concert tango' tradition in Argentina. The composition by Alemán, 'Al Gran Horacio Salgán', was recorded as a solo guitar piece on the 'En Todes Los Ritmos' album from Sept. 1974, issued by the Redondel label.

Last year, November 2009, Jorgelina Alemán, singer and granddaughter of Oscar Alemán, released a cd, 'Morena', which included a version of 'Hombre Mio' with lyrics by Jorgelina. Click on picture above to read the text. At her official website Jorgelina Alemán has uploaded several mp3 files of recordings made at live performance in 2003, among them is a recording of her version of 'Hombre Mio', available by clicking here. - The music of 'Hombre Mio' lives on added a new dimension through the lyrics by Jorgelina Alemán, a great tribute to Oscar Alemán with due respect to the original version of the tune.



Anonymous Hans said...

Thanks Jo for sharing this great contribution dedicated to Aleman's signature tune.


12:21 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home