Sunday, September 09, 2012

Oscar Alemán in Europe - 1959: part two

In 1959 Oscar was invited to visit Spain as part of a cooperation between the Argentine Radio El Mundo and its Spanish colleagues to perform at the popular series of radio programs En pos de la Fama.
Thanks to an interesting thesis by Vicent Lluís Fontelles Rodríguez, written in the local valenciano language, entitled Jazz a la ciutat de Valencia - subtitled Orígens i desenvolupament fins a les acaballes del 1981 (translated in Spanish by Gustavo Lecha and in English by Luis Contijoch) I could reconstruct parts of this rather unsuccessful tour.
Oscar Alemán in Europe 1959 - part one (English) | Oscar Alemán in Europe 1959 - part two (English) | Oscar Alemán bezoekt Europa 1959: deel 1 (Nederlands) | Oscar Alemán bezoekt Europa 1959: deel 2 (Nederlands) 

Oscar's musical career started in the late 1920s as part of the guitar duo Les Loups with Gaston Bueno Lobo.
This duo moved to Europe as part of the Harry Fleming music show, which failed in Madrid early 1930s and Oscar was invited to become a member of Josephine Baker's revue orchestra the Baker's Boys. Oscar lived and played in Europe for almost a decade and when the nazis occupied France, he run way and moved to stay put in Argentine, his home land .... In Argentine he made a career and became a very popular artist during the late 1940s and early 1950s ..... He toured South America and left but two times the continent of South America: one, rather mysterious trip to New York City March 1944, and once to Spain in 1959.  As told in the previous part of this blog, Oscar's popularity was fading - his concerts were no longer sold out and, due to his drinking habits, he got health problems.
Newspaper article July 1959

In the summer of 1959 they performed in Madrid during the month of July and the first days of August, announced as una Orquestra de Baile, a dance orchestra. One of the first gigs was at the Llaca Club theater, in a program billed as a Gran Gala Argentina,

It featured the Argentine vocalist Elder Barber. Other artist to be present to perform in the Llaca Club garden were Edmundo Rivero, a popular Argentine tango singer, Charlo y Sabina - a tango vocal duo, Fernando Montenegro, an actress and Ovidio Juarez, a vocalist in the Paraguayan Gaurani tradition ...., trovador de la canción Guarani. Oscar Alemán and Elder Barber were billed as Los Magnificos Artistas Argentinos ... El Mago de la guitarra électrica famoso en el mundo entero ....  The concert, which was billed as the Gran Gala Argentina was broadcasted by the Spanish TVE ( La Televisión Española).

The concert was a success, according to the newspapers. It praised the inigualable ritmo de Oscar Alemán  y su orquesta de Jazz Argentina.

Plaza de Toros de Valencia ( ca. 1950) ( source:
In August, Oscar's band was scheduled, according to the newspapers, at the Madrid Florida Park ballroom, together with Rafael de Córdova and Lina Bermejo.

It is a bit strange that Oscar and his band was announced for the 4th of August, to play at the Madrid Florida Park Ballroom, because, as was said before, he was scheduled in Valencia at the En pos de la fama that same day. The Madrid ABC newspaper of the 5th of August doesn't mention the Madrid concert, so the announcement of the previous edition might have been a misprint. But it  might have been that Oscar had accepted this invitation, as bad weather forecasts for Valencia might have cancelled the concert at forehand. It wasn't and Oscar had to play, although the program was canceled due to motivos meteorológicos .... half way the concert.

On the 4th of August 1959 Oscar had to play at the radio program En pos de la Fama, which was scheduled at the Plaza de Toros de Valencia, the cities bullring where more then 12,000 people could follow the bullfights in the open air.

The concert was cancelled somewhere half way the show, as is said, due to heavy rain fall, although rumors said that Oscar didn't like to play in such a large open air venue ...... as he had hoped to be the star in one of the theaters of the city, like he was used to be in Buenos Aires.  The next day the weather conditions were fine and Oscar Alemán had to play again as part of the show ......  and played his usual jazz repertoire ( I guess songs like De Buen Humor ( = In The Mood), Dédo Duros, Balando el Rock, Oscarinadas and his title song Hombre Mio), but the audience wasn't really interested in his (jazz) music - Oscar's concert might have been even the first times the audience heard jazz played in this venue -  and even his colleagues didn't had a great admiration for his music .....

Oscar played with his band the next day, Thursday the 6th of August, 1959, at the Plaza de Toros arena and it is said that Oscar didn't like to play at this large open air stadium, forced to play the same repertoire as the day before .....

The 1959 European tour scheduled concerts in Spain, Switzerland and Portugal, but after a few weeks of most disappointing concerts, the members of his orchestra didn't want to finish the tour ..... and maybe Oscar's  habits may have been reasons for the band members to leave Spain ...... As far as I know they even didn't play in Switzerland nor Portugal. Oscar Alemán, who had met the beautiful Maria Teresa Benito Beranco, left for Argentina too, disillusioned of course, soon followed by his new girl friend, who married Oscar in 1962. His career as a star, even in Argentina had finished and Oscar made a living as a guitar teacher, hidden for his fans .... 

 Thanks to Gustavo Lecha and Luis Contijoch for their kind support.  

Deze bijdrage wordt in het Nederlands gepubliceerd in de Keep (it) Swinging blog als Oscar Aleman in bezoekt Europa - 1959: deel 2  

Hans Koert
author of the online Oscar Aleman discography