Saturday, October 07, 2006

Oscar Alemán - Brasilian Repertoire

The Argentine guitarist, Oscar Alemán (1909 - 1980), made his debut as a professional musician in Rio de Janeiro 1925 together with the Brasilian Gastón (- or in Portuguese: Gastão) Bueno Lobo, they teamed as a duo named Les Loups. They toured a great part of Brazil and at one point they were engaged by the Argentine comedian Pablo Palitos, who brought Les Loups to Buenos Aires, where the duo soon found work at theatres, radio and as recording artists for the prestigious Victor label. Les Loups were billed as Dúo de guitarras Hawaianas, wearing white suit and flower gown at performances, and the Hawaiian issue - a fashion of the time all over America and other parts of the world, including Europe - also was to be heard in the performances by the duo. Both Alemán and Lobo played guitars, but Lobo would treat the instrument in the Hawaiian mode, playing slide with a steel bar, while Alemán would accompany him in a conventional way of playing, adding elaborate counterpoint statements and rhythm to the sessions. The repertoire of the duo, however, was not typical Hawaiian - Les Loups excelled in tangos, waltzes and fox popular at the time. The duo had success with the Argentine public, and as mentioned Les Loups
recorded for the Victor label in Buenos Aires - they cut 16 sides as a duo from 1927-1929 and joined violinist Elvino Vardaro in 1929 on a couple of sessions, billed as the Trio Victor.
For more info on Les Loups discography, click here
In 1929 Les Loups went to Europe on tour with Harry Flemming's revue company, hired as a part of the show. The tour started in Portugal and Spain and brought Les Loups through several European countries the next couple of years, where they continued performing as a Hawaiian duo. Early 1931, however, the duo quit Flemming's company in Spain, and soon after Les Loups would part, too. Lobo went back to Brazil and continued his career at radio and as a recording artist until his passing away in 1939. Alemán stayed in Europe throughout the 1930'ies and made his success with Josephine Baker and frequently took part in the jazz scene of Paris, this way learning to improvise and harmonize as a jazz guitar player. He participated as a sideman in several recording sessions in Paris and also had the opportunity to make a couple of solo recordings 1938 in Copenhagen.
For more info on Alemán's European jazz recordings, click here
When Hitler's German troups occupied France in 1940, Alemán decided and managed to return to Argentina, settled in Buenos Aires and soon launched a career as a bandleader of his own group. He formated his first quintet late 1940 and started recording for the Odeon label in November 1941, cut 10 sides within this setting 1941 - 1942. In 1943 the quintet was re-organized with new members, a piano player was added - the quintet thus becoming a sextet, although the group was still labeled as Oscar Alemán y su quinteto de Swing. With this group Alemán continued recording for Odeon and cut 36 sides between 1943 and 1947. In 1949 Alemán disbanded his quintet, but in 1951 he started a new group consisting of three violins, rhythm, clarinet and the leader's guitar. With this group, which Alemán kept without many changes of personnel until disbanding in 1959, he recorded around 50 sides between 1951 - 1957, always for the Odeon label.
When browsing through Alemán's output from Odeon 1941-1957 it's easily seen that 2/3 of the repertoire includes popular swing tunes of the time, mostly American but also a few originals by Alemán. However, the remaining 1/3 of the repertoire is devoted to music by Brasilian composers or genres connected with the Brasilian music tradition: samba, choro, baião, batuque i.e.. - In 2002 EMI of Argentina released a cd compilation of Alemán's Brasilian repertoire (EMI 541686), which I recommend as a resonable example of his mastering of different Brasilian music styles. Tracklist and additional info inserted below, for further info use the online search facility featured in the Alemán web discography, click here
1) VANIDOSA (Herivelta Martins - Arthur Moraes) - Samba (25 Jan. 1947) 2) MELANCOLIA (Vicente Catton) - Samba (10 Sep. 1945) 3) CASITA PEQUEÑITA (Traditional) - Samba (6 June 1952) 4) AY MORENA (Alfas - Alburquerque) - Samba (7 April 1953) 5) PE DE MANACA (Herve Cordovil - Mariza Pinto Coelho) - Baiao (11 July 1951) 6) PAJARO ENJAULADO (Herve Cordovil - Mario Vieira) - Baión (16 May 1952) 7) PA-PA-PA (Oscar Alemán) - Baión (17 Sep. 1952) 8) MI AMIGO (José Romero (Guarana) - Oscar Alemán) - Samba (12 Nov. 1954) 9) YO SOY DE RIO (Yacaré - Pagua) - Samba (11 April 1955) 10)CONCEICAO (Jair Amorin - Dunga) - Samba (17 June 1957) 11)DELICADO (Waldir Azevedo) - Baión (31 Oct. 1951) 12)O VESTIDO DE BOLERO (Dorival Caymmi) - Baión (4 Dec. 1945) 13)YO VI UN LEON (Maia) - Samba (27 June 1944) 14)NEGRA DE CABELLO DURO (Rubens Soares - David Nasser) - Batuque (7 Sep. 1943) 15)TICO TICO NO FUBA (Abreu) - Choro (7 Sep. 1943) 16)APANHEI TE CAVAQUINHO (Ernesto Nazareth) - Chorinho (24 July 1945) 17)SAUDADES (Alfredo De Siano) - Batucada (29 Sep. 1952) 18)CABEZA HINCHADA (Hervé Cordovil) - Baiao (16 May 1951) 19)DEDOS DUROS (Alemán) - Choro (17 June 1957) 20)ACONTECE QUE EU SOY BAHIANO (Dorival Caymmi) - Samba (14 Sep. 1956)

All titles recorded in Buenos Aires for the Odeon label



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Jo for the extensive message about Oscar's Brazilian roots. I posted a small contribution today at our Oscar Aleman blog about another Brazilian jazz musician who played with Oscar in Paris during the early 1930s.

Keep swinging


07 October, 2006  

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