Sunday, August 07, 2016

Casi negro - Choro by Oscar Alemán

Odeon 74288b
Oscar Alemán was well informed about various Brazilian music genres and recorded several examples of Brazilian tunes during his contract with Odeon and later. He composed and recorded three pieces in the genuine Brazilian choro style during his contract with Odeon, they are: Casi negro (Odeon, 7488b, B.A. Oct. 22, 1955), Casi bueno, Odeon 74292b, B.A. Nov. 20 or 22, 1955) and Dedos duros (Odeon, 74343a, B.A. June 17, 1957). Here I'll focus on the first mentioned, Casi negro, the audio of Odeon 7488b has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below

Alemán's version here of this choro is  recorded as a magnificent guitar solo only supported by bass and percussion, the two-part piece is played on amplified guitar and repeated a couple of times, but no improvisation is heard or intended. Alemán never tried to improvise on Brazilian tunes, he respected the original form of the music genre, thus later days' conception of Brazilian music as a vehicle for jazz improvisation (- think of jazz-samba or bossa nova) was not the issue in Alemán's case. The only difference from a typical choro as played by Brazilian musicians is Alemán's choice of the rhythmic pattern which gets close to a 2/4 samba beat at medium tempo and further the double time sequence at the end of part B of the piece. Maybe these small details were the personal 'signature' which were added to convince the Odeon management and the record buying public that Alemán's version of the choro style could be transferred and executed convicingly by a popular Argentinian artist without spoiling the traditional Brazilian conception of the choro as a music genre incorporating endless ideas and the impact from many different musical sources within a fixed pattern? A more significant difference, however, is that Alemán performs this choro on an electrified instrument, choro is traditionally performed by acoustic instruments, but Alemán's performance of the piece on amplified guitar adds an updated version of choro at the time of the recording, which probably should appeal to the night life and dance halls of Buenos Aires. - Alemán only recorded Casi negro once, but there exists a fragment of a home recording from the 1960s that has him performing the piece on acoustic guitar which is inserted below to show a more introspective version of the tune

Just recently I was thrilled to find out that an Argentinian choro ensemble named Mistura & Manda has recorded their version of Choro negro at the ensemble's latest CD titled Lloros. I wrote a review of the CD here, and to end this I'll insert this version of Choro negro by Mistura & Manda which has been uploaded at YouTube as an audio video together with other examples of the tunes at the CD devoted to Argentinian composers of choros



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