Monday, February 20, 2017

Oscar Alemán - Live Audio, October 1941

Oscar Alemán on stage
Let us remember the public debut of Oscar Alemán The Master of Jazz Guitar in Argentina on this special day, the 108th anniversary of el Maestro. The event took place at Teatro Casino in Buenos Aires on October 14, 1941. A special concert had been arranged and luckily there were made some test recordings of the show by the Ayacucho label. 
Discos Ayacucho label
According to info in Sergio Pujol's book La guitarra embrujada, Alemán's setlist included solo performance of Sussurando/Whispering and St. Louis Blues to introduce the show. Then were performed Hombre Mio, Tengo Ritmo, Bye Bye Blues and Oscarinadas in a quartet setting - participating musicians besides Alemán are unknown. As mentioned, audio takes of the show were made, unfortunately the technical quality of the audio is rather bad. But as these saved (test-)recordings represent the debut of Oscar Alemán in Argentina after his return from Europe, they are definitly worth preserving both as a historical document and as an early example of Alemán's live stage performance, even before his association with Radio Belgrano and the debut of his first Quinteto de Swing. - From the concert, here is the saved audio of Hombre Mio - notice the medium tempo and the extended solo playing, i.e. compared to the first recording for Odeon, June 2nd 1942

The second take available from the concert is a version of Tengo Ritmo, again in a quartet setting and with extended soloing by Alemán. In this version of the tune, which was to become part of his standard repertoire, Alemán contributes some of his fastest solo playing - enjoy it here

The Ayachucho recordings were not intended for commercial release. On the contrary, they were test recordings in a format (33 rpm), which at the time is likely to be used as promotional material in relation to radio and record companies. There is not much info to retrieve from the available sources. But I owe it to mention here that the audio in the two videos above and also in a similar live recording of the Saint Louis Blues used recently in another blog post was kindly made available from my Argentine friend, Andrés 'Tito' Liber. He in his turn has the audio files from a cassette tape copy by the Norwegian jazz critic Jan Evensmo. On this background, one might say that the saved music has found a new stop in and with this blog post.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Svend Asmussen (1916 - 2017)

Svend Asmussen (photo courtesy Ida Munch)

Yesterday the media released the sad news that world famous Danish jazz violinist Svend Asmussen has passed away. A true legend and a giant of the jazz violin has left the scene and leaves the jazz world an irreplaceable loss for those jazz fans with a long memory and an enthusiastic interest in the original string jazz as played by one of the pioneers of this branch of jazz.

In 1971 Oscar Alemán wrote a letter to the editor of the Dutch Doctor Jazz Magazine and remembered Svend Asmussen, quote:

"Svend Asmussen – in my opinion, the greatest thing I’ve ever heard in jazz in my whole life".

Svend Asmussen (28.2 1916 - 7.2 2017) R.I.P.