Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oscar Alemán100: His Argentine Career

Oscar Alemán100: Zijn Europese Jaren ( Nederlands) Oscar Alemán100: His European Career (English) Oscar Alemán100: Zijn Argentijnse Jaren (Nederlands) Oscar Alemán100: His Argentine Career (English) Oscar Alemán100: Live- en priveopnamen (Nederlands) Oscar Alemán100: Live and private recordings (English) Oscar Alemán100: Sus Presentaciones en vivo (Español)

A (limited) Oscar Alemán CD-discography with some Argentine recordings

The (renewed)
Hans Koert

On the 20th of February 2009 we'll commemorate the fact that Oscar Alemán, el Rey de la Guitarra Swing, as he is a labelled on one of the latest reissues, was born 100 years ago. This fact will be celebrated in Machagai near the city of Pres. Roque Sáenz Peña, a place west of Resistencia in the north of Argentina near the Paraguay border.

One of Oscar's scrapbooks with his radio successes. (photo courtesy: Theo van de Graaf)

If you love to listen to music made by Oscar Aleman in Argentina, you can try to find one of the two albums that are still available: Oscar Aleman - L'éclectique génie Argentin de la guitare / Argentine's Versatile Guitar Genius ( Fremaux FA 029) abd the 2CD Oscar Alemán - Swing Guitar Masterpieces 1938-1957( Acoustic Disc ACD-29). I'm glad I can announce you to, that a third compilation album, about his Argentine Odeón years (1941-1957) has been released recently on the Saga Jazz label ( Saga Jazz no. 72) titled Oscar Alemán: Ritmo Loco - El Rey de la Guitarra Swing. This budget album must be easily to find in Europe.
When the Second World War suffered Europe and other parts of the world, Oscar moved to Argentina and started his Quinteto de Swing, with Hernán Oliva, who was an expert on his violin. They made several recordings and they became a popular band, to play on the radio or in the numerous dance halls in Buenos Aires. The Saga selection brings its first recording, Dulce Georgia Brown (= Sweet Georgia Brown). In 1944 this quintet was broke up, because, there wasn't room for two captains on one ship. Hernan started his own group and became a popular musician and Oscar founded a "new" quinteto ( in fact a sextet !) with some new musicians, like Manuel Gavinovich on the violin and Luis Gavinovich on bass; Guillermo Barbieri, rhythm guitar and Ramón Caravaca were members of the old group.

Melancolía - Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing ( september 1945)

Oscar loved his scrapbooks, remembrances of a rich career. (photo courtesy Theo van de Graaf)

On the Saga Jazz CD nine tracks are dedicated to this Quinteto de Swing with some of their hits, like Improvisaciones Sobre Boogie Woogie, Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho and Limehouse Blues, he recorded before in 1938 as one of the Danish Jam session tunes. Oscar and his group becomes a very popular artist in Argentina, due to numerous concerts on radio programs, like LR3 Radio Belgrano and Antena and his role on some films.

He became a sought after musicians for venues to have him on stage all over South America, but especially in the great dance halls of Buenos Aires. Hundreds of young Argentines loved to dance in the giant exclusive dance halls where Oscar performed. He was a pop star and his Quinteto de Swing had made space for a large orchestra that accompanied him. He recorded dozens of sides with this Orquesta de Jazz or Conjunto de Jazz (Conjunto means Ensemble).
Promo picture of Oscar Alemán ( 1950s)
On the Saga Jazz record are 14 sides, with a great Ritmo Loco, the title song of this compilation, which is in English Crazy Rhythm, Gershwin's Tengo Ritmo ( I Got Rhythm) and the St. Louis Blues. But, new music styles, Rock and Roll, didn't pass Argentina and the youth got new idols, new rhythms, new dances, new music .... and Oscar Alemán couldn't fulfil the needs of the youth anymore. Of course he tried to bring some Rock and Roll into his repertoire, like Bailando el Rock, Mortitat (= Mack The Knife) or Rock Around The Clock. The Saga Jazz El Rey de la Guitarra Swing album ends with the last side Oscar recorded for Odeón with his Orquesta de Jazz in the 1950s. (Buenos Aires 17th of June 1957).
Oscar on film El Idolo del Tango ( late 1940s)
The next decade Oscar Aleman lived like a retired musician, earning a living as a teacher, teaching guitar players to play like the great maestro, and it seemded that the people of Argentina forgot his successes. In the mid 1960s he's back, playing in some venues for his dedicated fans of the 1940s and 50s, who didn't forgot him. His band is named Los Cinco Caballeros with Mario Felix on clarinet; Alberto Barbera at the piano who also participated in his orchestra during the 1950s. In the 1970s Oscar maked some great albums titled Aleman'72 and an LP with the Jorge Anders orchestra. During his last years he lived retired in his apartment at the Maipu in Buenos Aires, with his glas of red wine (qualified with water), his cigarettes, his guitar, his reel-to-reel taperecorder and his scrapbooks and memories within reach. On the reel-to-reel he listened to airshots of his radio programs, private recordings or new licks he had recorded for his own pleasure.
Next week several festivities are planned, like concerts by Jorgelina Alemán, his granddaughter, who will play at some concerts in the Complejo Agora in the remote birthplace of Machagai, a symbolic place, and the Hot Club de Boedo, directed by Waldo Fonseca will bring a concert dedicated to Oscar in Buenos Aires.
Oscar at the end of his life: retired in the corridor of his house with his wine, cigarettes and remembrances. (photo courtesy Theo van de Graaf)
Maybe one of these days, the long expected biography of Oscar Alemán will be released, compilated by Guillermo Iacona, but for most people outside Argentina this event will pass without noticing. Why can't they enjoy the great La vida con swing documentary about Oscar's career in music made by Hernan Gaffet on TV? If you love to commemorate Oscar Alemán's Centenial visit the Oscar Aleman weblog, or this Keep swinging blog with some articles about his career, the renewed website with the one-and-only online Oscar Aleman discography. And share, next Friday, the music of Oscar Alemán with your friends; I'm sure Oscar would have liked it!!

Information about this great artist: keepswinging@live.nl
Hans Koert

Hans Koert
The Argentine Records made by Oscar Alemán have been reissued on dozens of CDs. The following list of CDs might be available in your local record shop or on the internet. If you love to see an extensive list find the online list of contemporary issues.

= OSCAR ALEMÁN - SWING GUITAR MASTERPIECES 1938 - 1957O((Acoustic) (1998) (2CD)
= oscar alemán grabaciones recuperadas (Acqua) (2001) (CD)
= oscar alemán y Los cinco caballeros (Acqua) (2001) (CD)
= Oscar Alemán
= Oscar Alemán y su conjunto “Con Ritmos de Brasil” (EMI) (2002) (CD)
= Oscar Alemán – Grandes Exitos Vol. 1 (EMI) (2002) (CD)
= Oscar Alemán – Grandes Exitos Vol. 2 (EMI) (2002) (CD)
= Oscar Alemán - Special Guitares volume 1 (1937 – 1945) (EMI) (2002) (CD_
= Oscar Aleman "Nada más que un poquito de Swing" (EMI) (2005) (CD)
= OSCAR ALEMÁN Ritmo Loco - El Rey de la Guitarra Swing (2008) (SAGAJAZZ)

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