Oscar Aleman, one of the unknown greats

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Neer, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. Neer

    Neer Supporting Member

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    I was turned onto Oscar Aleman in a Newark, NJ record store 30 years ago when the owner saw me with a Django LP. He said, "Here, you'll like this better" and handed me the Swing Guitar Legend LP.

    I was surprised recently to find out that a lot of folks haven't heard of Oscar, so in the interest of perpetuating his great name, I'm posting a few links. His life story is very rich: he was born in Argentina and ended up an orphan in Brazil at age 10. He was a street musician, dancer, singer in the '20s. After hearing Jazz, he moved to Paris and went to work for Josephine Baker. There is much more to the story, but I'll let his playing speak for itself. Aleman played with a thumb pick and his fingers. He also burns on cavaquinho. One of the greats!





    Here is a solo version of a classic from '38:



     
  2. DRS

    DRS Member

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    Thank you for posting this, Neer! I've never heard of Oscar.
     
  3. Neer

    Neer Supporting Member

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    Great, DRS, that's why I did it. His CD, "Swing Guitar Masterpieces" is essential if you like this kind of playing.
     
  4. drolling

    drolling Member

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    Hey, thanks Neer!!

    I, too, was introduced to him as "South America's Django Reinhardt" and have been a big fan ever since

    At one point, his instrument of choice was a resophonic-style guitar, and I was blown away when I first heard *hot jazz* played on a National steel. Bright & percussive, it's a perfect tone for this type of music, and I'm surprised more players haven't made the switch
     
  5. Neer

    Neer Supporting Member

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    I played this style on a Spanish neck Tricone for a while. It was great fun. Then I got a Dunn D-hole and I was happier.

    Oscar's tricone was confiscated by the Nazis in 1940. He used a Selmer thereafter, as you can hear on Russian Lullabye.
     
  6. Kevbo599

    Kevbo599 Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks for sharing!
     
  7. drolling

    drolling Member

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    Thanks! I haven't seen any pictures from that period, so I was never sure what model he played

    He doesn't get that mellow(er) tone I normally associate with bell-brass resos, but a more 'in-your-face', punchier sound - I use a single cone steel-bodied guitar for this reason; They're louder & raspier

    He must've had A LOT of power in that right hand!!
     
  8. Neer

    Neer Supporting Member

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    If you listen to the Nobody's Sweetheart and Sweet Georgia Brown, he's playing a German silver Tricone, which is 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc. They have a sweeter tone than the brass. I had a brass round neck tricone from the 90s, but I also had about 4 GS squareneck tricones from the 20s. The tone was definitely a bit different. I had a '36 Duolian that was a killer guitar for this style, too, but it had a huge neck. I have a recording somewhere, I'll have to look for it.
     
  9. mcknigs

    mcknigs Supporting Member

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    I discovered Oscar Aleman back in '98 or so. I think I probably heard him on the radio and bought the double CD as a result. Love all of it, but his band's version of "Besame Mucho" cracks me up every time I hear it.
     
  10. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    When we got on the train to Versailles a couple of summers ago two accordion players hopped on an started playing Besame Mucho just as we pulled out of the station.
    Aleman is out-a-sight!
     
  11. clemduolian

    clemduolian Silver Supporting Member

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    Oscar Aleman is a treasure and a GREAT story for any musician who wonders "why does "X" get all the attention?" Can you imagine in a pre-internet, pre-television world hearing "Yeah, its cool, and you're very talented but there's this guy Django..."

    Big props to David Grisman and Jerry Garcia to get Oscar's music re-released on CD on Acoustic Disc.

    ESSENTIAL LISTENING for sure.
     

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