Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oscar Alemán - His Brazilian Rhythms

Oscar Alemán: His Brazilian Rhythm - Tony Vardé (English) Oscar Alemán: Con Ritmos de Brasil - Tony Vardé (Español) Oscar Alemán: Zijn Braziliaanse Ritmen Tony Vardé (Nederlands)

I must confess that the music from Brazil has never fascinated me at all. In spite of it's afro roots, Vinicus, Caetano, or Jobim have never entertained me. Stan Getz might make my feet move, but generally bossa nova and other Brazilian music styles like that, make me boring. Until one day my friend Flavio made me change my mind, at least for a while. He made a present for my daughter, the cd “Oscar Alemán y su conjunto - Con Ritmos de Brasil”. My daughter wasn't able to play the cd herself (she was one year old), so I played it myself. I became fascinated by it and decided to take some time and write about this album of this genius at the guitar Oscar Aleman. For me, his music on this album, opened the door to Brazilian music, although it's played my an Argentinean jazzman.
Negra de Cabello Duro - Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing. (Odeon 74037) (7th of sep. 1943) (source: Oscar Alemán Discography - Hans Koert)
In the album edited in 2002 entitled Oscar Alemán y su conjunto - Con Ritmos de Brasil, the tracks are mixed. I thought it was convenient to make a difference between the two periods in which they were recorded. Between 1943 and 1947, Oscar was accompanied by the “Quinteto de Swing” (they were more than five) and between 1951 and 1957, the “Orquesta de Jazz”.
Oscar Alemán promo photo. (1950s)I choose in the first place "Negra de Cabello Duro", because during the first minutes of the song, Oscar Alemán shows us his skills as a guitar player. And he also sings. “Tico Tico No Fuba” is an instrumental in Milonga style, in which we can listen to all his virtuosity. In this two tracks from 1943 there are lots of Reinhardt's licks. The first half of “Yo Vi Un Leon” is sung in Portuguese and the second half in Spanish. Here, Oscar Alemán shows that he can swing. “Melancolía” is an instrumental samba that sound mysterious. In “Apanhei Te Cavaquinho” we can find a very rich counterpoint between the guitars, while the piano takes the harmony. The violin leads for the first time in “Vanidosa”, which reminds us more than ever to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.
Vanidosa - Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing (Odeon 22309) (24th of Jan, 1947) (Source: Oscar Alemán Discography - Hans Koert)
The second part of the album, includes more baiones and sambas. “Delicado”, (1951) its a pure guitar instrumental and ”Pa pa pa”, written by Alemán, is one of the sweetest of the whole record. “Mi casita pequeña” it where the samba meets the bolero, and we can find more presence of the strings, piano and chorus. “Saudades” it's another instrumental to enjoy Oscar's guitar from the beginning to the end.

Eu Vi Um Leâo - Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing ( Odéon 45973) ( 27th of June, 1944) ( Source: Oscar Alemán Discography - Hans Koert )
One of the three compositions by Alemán in this compilation, this time together with José Romero, is “Mi amigo”. In this 1954 samba, we can hear for the first time the electric guitar. “Yo soy de Río”, another samba but more festive, brings us an electric guitar solo with a little distortion where Oscar shows his speed. “Conceicao” is mostly a song with horns and strings.

Delicado - Oscar Alemán y su Conjunto de Jazz ( Odeon 55318) (26 or 31 October 1951) ( Source: Oscar Alemán Discography - Hans Koert)

Last but not least, "Dedos Duros”, also an Alemán's song. It starts with the strings drawing a complex surface in which the guitar goes searching for spots to play, and by the half of the song, everything goes upside down, and it is the guitar who takes us trough fast roads. Chronologically is the final song of the whole recording (1957), and curiously, it works just fine as close for this compilation.
Tony Vardé ( Argentina)
( Escuchate esto!)

Thanks Tony for this review and introduction to Oscar Alemán and his Brazilian rhythms. Love to share the tune Melancolia, as played by Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Jazz ( September 1945) and one of the tracks on this great compilation.

Hans Koert


Blogger Jo said...

Thanks for this review of one of the most important compilations of Alemán recordings. The importance of this disc has to do with the focus on tunes that show the influence of Brazilian music in Alemán's concept of 'swing'. The traditional way of 'understanding' and appreciating Alemán's music has been to locate him as a Reinhardt-clone (- just one in a million ...!), but the music in this compilation shows another profile of Alemán, in fact the most important, in my point of view. The sad fact is that but few jazz critics have been interested in pointing to this body of work by this guitar giant and swing player.

9:09 AM  

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