Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Special Reunion 1954

When Oscar Alemán founded his first Quinteto de Swing late 1940, the ensemble consisted of Alemán as leader, arranger and solo guitarist, Dario "El Johnny" Quaglia on rhythm guitar, Andrés Alvarez on string bass, Ramon M. Caravaca on drums, and Guillermo Hernán Oliva on violin - the only other member of the group to be given solo space besides Oscar. Between November 1941 and November 1942 the quintet recorded 10 sides for Odeon, and if you listen carefully to the solo spots given to the violin, you will recognise a talented improviser of the instrument. Hernán Oliva definitely belongs to the great swing violinists, and his recorded work with Alemán remains highlights of his career. Unfortunately, Oliva and Alemán stopped their cooporation in 1943 due to an incompatibility of temper, however, they recorded once more together in 1954 at a concert arranged by the Hot Club de Buenos Aires.

The Hot Club de Buenos Aires was founded in November 1948 and on 7 June 1954 the organisation had arranged a special concert performance at the Teatro La Mascara, which was recorded by Odeon. The concert indeed was a special event, as it for the first time in a decade reunited Alemán and Oliva together on stage. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find background information of this reunion - no details according this have been stated in available sources. Nevertheless, the saved music from the concert is a great document of the event, and it should definitly be reissued and available on CD, as this concert gives us an important impression of both Alemán and Oliva in a
live-performance at the height of their careers.

The saved part of the concert was issued by Odeon on a 10 inch LP-disc (Odeon LDS 201), the disc contains three tunes and the performing ensemble, labeled Quinteto de Cuerdas del Hot Club de Buenos Aires, consists of Guillermo Hernan Oliva v, Oscar Alemán  g, Walter Malosetti g, Mario Tejón g, Aldo “Nene” Nicolini  b.. This ensemble presents three jazz standards: Limehouse Blues, Confessin' and Sweet Georgia Brown, and this is what is available from the concert. However, three more tunes were recorded with an all stars formation including Oliva and Alemán, but the masters were rejected by Odeon and never issued (- for detailed info, see the online discography, click
here) . The first tune played by the Quinteto de Cuerdas del Hot Club de Buenos Aires was Limehouse Blues, and this take is now available in streaming audio from SoundCloud, inserted

The second take from the concert has a performance of Confessin', which delivers great examples of Oliva's sweet tone and a certain tension between the two soloists, but also nice spots of musical humour immediately applaused by the audience. Fortunately, this track has also been uploaded on SoundCloud

It has puzzled me for a long time, why these recordings haven't been reissued on CD, but it would indeed be an obvious choice this year, which is the Centennial of Hernán Oliva. Both Oliva and Alemán deserves to be praised for their performance in this special 1954 reuinion concert. And, by the way, the music is a great treat to celebrate the 104th anniversary of Oscar Alemán as well!