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Monday, January 30, 2017
Oscar Alemán And The Blues
Original sheet music (1914)
It has been said thatOscar Alemánnever was a 'blues man', implying that his concept of jazz did not include the Afro-American music genre known as 'blues', an important source in the original versions of jazz rooted in New Orleans' music culture and practice. However, the statement should be modified, if 'the blues' is not just the musical style that originated in the Southern states of USA around 1900 and was performed by amateurs and local pick-up ensemples at social events in mainly black Afro-American societies long before the music spread to other parts of the country via radio networks and 'race' records.
Innovative tunesmiths and music publishers likeW.C. Handy(1873-1958), known as 'father of the blues', were soon aware of the commercial opportunities of the blues and took advantage of the music by publishing their own versions of blues as sheet music which became popular hits with the public even before WW 1. W.C. Handy'sSaint Louis Blues(published 1914) was among his most popular songs and was quickly adopted by the mainstream music business as an example of the original version of the blues style. Countless musicians and jazz bands have since incorporated Saint Louis Blues in their repertoire and the tune is a fundamental part of the jazz standard book, still performed today by traditional jazz orchestras.
Alemán performing St. Louis Blues
It is from the tradition paved by W.C. Handy Aleman´s concept of the blues originates, I think. Fact is that the mentioned Saint Louis Blues was a part of Alemán's repertoire throughout his career in Argentina from 1940 and on. Already at one of his first public performances after his return to Argentina from Europe, Saint Louis Blues is presented and elaborated as a great vehicle for his improvisational skills both as a musician and entertainer. Luckily, a test recording from this live performance October 14, 1941 at Teatro Casino in Buenos Aires has been saved and documents Alemán's rousing and roof raising version of Saint Louis Blues as a solo piece of improvised music for guitar, vocal and stomping feet!
Alemán recorded Saint Louis Blues commercially twice, the first version was recorded by Odeon January 30 1953 featuringAlemán's Orquesta de Jazz(mx 18802, Odeon 55613 and LDS119). The tune is here a great vehicle for his improvisational skills as a guitar player in the applied solos.
The next time Alemán recorded Saint Louis Blues was in May 1973 at the session for the Redondel label withJorge Anders' orchestraissued on Redondel SL-10511. This version has also been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below
Alemán composed and recorded two tunes which were titled Oscar Blues No. 1 and Oscar Blues No. 3, both recorded for Redondel - the first mentioned on Redondel L-809 made September 1974, the other was issued on the Alemán '72 LP (Redondel, SL 10.508) recorded Sept.-Oct. 1972. Both tunes are solo pieces for guitar, here is Oscar Blues No. 3 inserted below
Collectors of Alemán's output may have wondered, if there also exists a tune titled Oscar Blues No. 2 although never recorded officially. I don't have the answer to that question, but instead I like to point to a saved untitled home-recording from c. 1971 in much the same style and mood as the two known pieces titled Oscar Blues. Thus, below is inserted a possible Oscar Blues No. 2 to end this