Sunday, February 19, 2012

Oscar Alemán - Eternamente Vivo!

During the 1960s and 1970s Oscar Alemán was featured from time to time in various radio and TV programs in Argentina. No new recordings had been released since late 1950s when he dissolved his Orchesta de Jazz and the contract with Odeon ended, however, there was made some studio recordings mid-1960s in a new quintet setting as OA y sus Cinco Caballeros, but these recordings were not released until made available on LP late 1970s. Accordingly, collectors of Alemán's recorded output have had to accept a gap from 1957, when the last recordings by Odeon were made, until 1972, when the small Redondel label released new recordings by OA. Fortunately, keen collectors in Argentina have taped extracts from OA's live-performance in radio, TV and public venues from this period, and these tape recordings are supplemented by recordings from Alemán and close friends' own tape collections - previously circulating among collectors, but never issued by a regular record company. A selection of this material has now been released on a double cd by the Fonocal label (FONOCAL 24 1/2) with the title Oscar Alemán - Eternamente Vivo. The 2 cd-set was compiled by Daniel Cossarini and Edgardo "Nano" Suárez from material kindly made available by Estanislao & José Iacona, Jorgelina Alemán - grandniece of Oscar Alemán and succesfull singer - wrote the sleve notes and further contributes with a vocal version of "Stardust" in an overdub of the original Odeon recorded 26 October 1944 as "Polvo de Estrellas" by Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing.

The two cds contain 34 tracks from OA's live-performances remastered from taperecordings of varied audio quality. Unfortunately, no exact info about the source material regarding dates and circumstances is given in the sleve notes, but the tracks are a mixture of recordings from radio, TV and live concert supplemented with a couple of private home recordings.Discographers may have a hard time locating these recordings, but some help can be found in the OA online discography, if you consult the pages covering the period from 1965 and on including the pages having info on undated recordings and material from OA's own tapecollection.

The repertoire chosen for the two cds is a mixture of genres, some tunes are well known from OA's officially recorded output such as "Sweet Georgia Brown", "Tea For Two", "St Louis Blues", "Tengo Ritmo" etc., however, here you have new versions with focus on OA's solo efforts and ability to improvise - a great supplement to the studio takes and a goldmine for listeners, who would like to explore OA's guitar style. There are also tracks containing tunes OA never recorded officially, i.e. pop-tunes like "La,La,La" and "Dang dang", further a couple of surprises -: OA singing French chansons accompanied by his own great guitar arrangement! Highlights among the mixture of tunes count live solo versions of "Man of Mine", "La Cumparsita" and "St Louis Blues", further the tracks recorded at two live concerts 1971 at 'Teatro del Buen Aire' featuring OA accompanied by Guillermo José Iacona on rhythm guitar - especially a great version of "Cuando los santos vienen marchando" is worth mentioning, as this version later was to be recorded in a similar version on the Alemán 72' LP by Redondel, a true tour-de-force in improvising and exploring the dixieland anthem "When The Saints Go Marchin' In". There are also several tracks on the two cds almost spoiled by bad audio quality, mainly airshots from programs at Radio El Mundo c.1967, and the low-fi audio quality also continues in the taped audio from TV performances. However, these tracks give the listener an impression of the excitement and the warm applause that wellcomed OA during his public performances in the 1960s and 1970s, here the showman is in focus and this material is evidence that he could still catch the audience with wit, humour and great playing despite often accompanied by musicians not reaching his own high standard. - Some examples of TV performance containing only the audio have been uploaded at YouTube, below I insert one of them to give you an impression of the old master at work - enjoy this version of "Tengo Ritmo" from a Canal 9 program, "Sabados de la Bondad", hosted by Hector Coire

The last track on disc 2 is a trick or stunt recording, as you have Jorgelina Alemán singing the English lyrics of Carmichael's "Stardust" in an overdub of the Odeon recording of "Polvo de Estrellas" by Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing originally recorded on 26 October, 1944. According to Jorgelina's notes, the idea of this experiment is inspired by a similar experiment made by singer Natalie Cole, who honored her father, Nat King Cole, adding her vocal to a record made before he passed away. You may like or dislike this kind of experiment, but as a tribute to a star and as a way of expressing inspiration, continuation of tradition and family bonds, you may also consider it as an example of true admiration and gratitude. The studio take of this experiment has also been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below - Jorgelina Alemán with OA y su Quinteto de Swing:

On the 20th this month OA would have turned 103 years old, an excellent way to celebrate this incomparable master of swing is to load the Eternamente Vivo 2 cd-set in your cd-player. Get it from Amazon or other online stores, the supplies may be limited. - To end this small review I insert another YouTube video featuring the audio of a live performance at TV, this is taped from a Canal 9, 'Sabados continuados' program hosted by Leonardo Simons and aired on the 2oth of February 1970, OA is accompanied by the orchestra of Santos Lipesker in a version of "Moritat" (aka "Mack The Knife") followed by the orchestra's 'Happy Birthday'

Thanks to Daniel Cossarini and Jorgelina Alemán for forwarding a free copy of the reviewed 2 cd-set!