Wednesday, April 27, 2016

IMPORTANT MESSAGE #2

A couple of days ago I found out that the account for the Oscar Alemán website including Hans Koert's original OA online dicopgraphy a.o. hosted at opweb.nl is suspended (see previous blog entry). Unfortunately, I have not access to this account, thus, a renewal is out of my hands. Things are a bit complicated, as Hans Koert did not provide me with info how to handle a situation like this, and I now regret that I never asked, before it was too late. However, Hans Koert had a back-up of the online OA Discography uploaded at a local net-server, fortunately this version of the discography still works at my computer. Here is the link.

I cannot assure that the link works outside Europe/EUC and I would appreciate to have feed-back from readers of other regions/countries to clarify, if the mentioned link is accessible at their locations.

Visitors can contact me by using the e-mail stated below.

Until I have worked out an updated version of Hans Koert's online Oscar Alemán Discography, which may take some time, researchers of Alemán's recorded legacy have access to the latest updated info by visiting the recently published OA discography by Andrés 'Tito' Liber hosted at the weblog of Hot Club de Boedo, here 

Thanks for your support and understanding.

Jørgen Larsen
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keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

Sunday, April 24, 2016

IMPORTANT MESSAGE

Everything concerning Hans Koert's El Redescubrimiento de Oscar Alemán /The Rediscovery of Oscar Alemán project including the online OA Discography created by HK has suddenly vanished from the web, visitors have the following message:

*"This account has been suspended.
Either the domain has been overused, or the reseller ran out of resources."

Further, as a consequence of the suspended account the following of HKs work is also no longer available online:

Hit of The Week Discography, Durium Advertisement and Custom Records Discography, Durium (GB) Discography, the link site (Survey) and  HKs Articles index including uploaded pdf files.

Visitors get this message:

"Not Found - The requested URL /how.htm was not found on this server. Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Apache/2 Server at www.durium.opweb.nl Port 80"

Until I find out what has happened to the mentioned websites, all further activity at the weblogs associated with the keepitswinging.doman is suspended.

Thanks for your support and understanding.

Jørgen Larsen
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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Choro Day

Since the year 2000 Pixinguinha's birthday has been officially celebrated in Brazil as Dia Nacional do Choro. The 23. April this year also commemorate the official date of William Shakespeare's passing. Both Pixinguinha and Shakespeare belong to the immortal artists, Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, while Pixinguinha is considered one of the greatest Brazilian composers of popular music, particularly within the genre of music known as choro. Both men created a new language through their artistic production - here I'll concentrate on some of Pixinguinha's great works as performed today.

Pixinguinha (April 23, 1897 - February 7, 1973)
Two young musicians, Rafa Nascimento (violão 7 cordas) and Marcel Santiago (bandolim), pay their homage to Pixinguinha in this short video uploaded three days ago



From a choro festival in 2011 Luis Barcelos (bandolim) & Regional Imperial performed Pixinguinha's homage to his people - Minha Gente 


Pixinguinha's music guided the way for the contemporary conception of choro music, here's another example from the same concert - Acerto o Passo 


Pixinguinha's music is often played at concerts and rodas de choros in Brazil, his music has become part of the Brazilian people's national identity and is celebrated whenever a moment's notice is available. Here are some more examples of some of Pixinguinha's immortal pieces.




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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Oscar Alemán - TV Presentation 1975

OA in a TV Studio, Dec. 1979/Jan.1980 (photo courtesy Theo van de Graaff)
Film producer Hernán Gaffet has told about the lack of filmed material featuring Oscar Alemán during his research of material for his documentary on the Argentinian guitarist and showman. Gaffet's documentary, Vida con Swing (2002), has only small fragments of filmed sequences featuring Alemán from some of the movies in which Alemán participated and a single TV recording from the 1970s. Considering the popularity of Oscar Alemán in Argentina during the 1940s and 1950s, it's rather strange that very little of his appearance as a performer in public has been saved on film, and as TV became a common media during the 1960s the lack of filmed TV appearance of Alemán seemed to continue - the video recorder had yet to be invented, unfortunately. However, recently the Argentinan DIFilm Archive has found a small fragment from a TV performance in 1975, which I like to share here. The TV recording is without audio and was made as a promo/trailer for a program titled "Siesta" produced in 1975, the sequence lasts just 1:16 minutes but nevertheless gives us the opportunity to have a view of Alemán's stage appearance during his late career.


The video has been re-uploaded by another user of YouTube without the disturbing writing on screen and further has been added the audio of Alemán's recording of Delicado - the music is great, but really does not fit with the recorded silent moves of Alemán's playing on screen. Never mind, here's the 're-mastered' fragment


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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Squattin' At The Grotto - A 1938 Musicale

Definition of 'Squatting' (from Wikipedia):

Squatting is a posture where the weight of the body is on the feet (as with standing) but the knees are bent either fully (full or deep squat) or partially (partial, standing, half, semi, parallel or monkey squat). In contrast, sitting, involves taking the weight of the body, at least in part, on the buttocks against the ground or a horizontal object such as a chair seat. Crouching may involve squatting or kneeling. It is possible to squat with one leg and assume another position (such as kneeling) with the other leg. Among Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Eastern European adults, squatting often takes the place of sitting or standing.


Doctors and health preachers advice people to be squatting at the grotto while visiting the toilet, the guy to the right seems to have followed that advice. Now, let's get over with this definition of the meaning of 'squatting'.

William John "Bill" Harty (1899-1959) was an Irish born jazz drummer.

Born in Waterford in Ireland in 1899, Harty moved to Birmingham in England after World War I and took up the drums while working for the Dunlop Tyre Company. He played with various local bands on the early Birmingham jazz scene before deputising with an American band at the Birmingham Palais. He toured around Europe for much of the 1920s before returning to England to play with bands led by Harry Shalson, Al Starita, Jean Pougnet, Bill Gerhardi, Percival Mackey, Arthur Lally and Lew Stone. In 1934 he became the manager of Ray Noble's band, sailing to the United States with Noble later that year. He remained as Noble's manager into the 1950s (info from Wikipedia)

Columbia 35694
In March 1938 Bill Harty arranged a recording session for Columbia in Los Angeles featuring a pick-up ensemble of musicians from Jimmy Dorsey's orchestra and George and Bobby Van Eps. Bill Harty contributed as a drummer on the four sides that were recorded.

Discographical info from Tom Lord's discography (vers. 9.0), click to enlarge
According to the discographical info shown above, two of the recorded tunes were issued on Columbia 35694 while the other two were issued on Vocalion 4183. Here I'll focus on the two tunes at the Columbia 78 rpm disc containing the recording of Squattin' at the Grotto and Lock It Up on the flip side, both registered as a George Van Eps musicale. A musicale is a music program forming the main part of a social occasion, the word points to the same event as the French 'soirée musicale' and in the context of the record it may be interpreted as music for listening rather than dancing. The tune Squattin' at the Grotto is composed by John and George Van Eps and it is subtitled as a Banjo Novelty, a rather strange tune, which may be characterized as a theme with variations. The flip side of the disc featuring Lock It Up may be considered a further evaluation of the theme and structure of Squattin' including short solo spots of improvisation by trumpet, trumbone, reeds, piano, guitar and drums. The title Squattin' at the Grotto has been said to refer to a famous Chicago restaurant and club, which occasionally had Earl Hines and his orchestra as musical entertainment.


Below is inserted Squattin' at the Grotto as recorded on March 15, 1938 by the George Van Eps Ensemble


The flip side of Columbia 35694 has the recording of Lock It Up by the same ensemble


As mentioned, Squattin' at the Grotto is a somewhat strange music. When recorded in March 1938 it must have been considered this way, at least. The arrangenment, however, is great and so is the arrangement of Lock It Up. Both tunes are (co-)penned by George Van Eps,  who is the inventor of the 7-string jazz guitar and a master of this instrument. He constructed the first model in cooperation with the Epiphone company in 1938 to extend the possibilities of playing both bass lines, chords and melody line simultaneously by applying a finger picking technique. In this context you can perceive Squattin' at the Grotto and Lock It Up as examples or drafts of a way of thinking music with/for the guitar which George Van Eps would evalute later after having switched to the 7-string jazz guitar. Fact is, that an arrangement of Squattin' at the Grotto for solo guitar copyrighted 1939 exists. This arrangement of Squattin'at the Grotto, however, is to be played using plectrum chord style picking technique, and it has been recorded by Bucky Pizzarelli, another jazz guitarist who plays the 7-string guitar, using the plectrum chord style technicque.

Bucky Pizzarelli
Squattin' at the Grotto, which was released on Bucky Pizzarelli's Arbours solo album titled April Kisses, is inserted here to get an imagination of the solo guitar version of the tune


To end this I'll insert another solo guitar version of Squattin' at the Grotto featuring guitarist Brandon Azbill, who made a recently uploaded video showing how he plays the tune


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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com


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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cherokee - A Jazz Standard

Original sheet front illustration (1938)
Cherokee (1938) is a jazz standard - also known as Cherokee (Indian Love Song) - written by Ray Noble and originally intended as the first of five movements for an Indian Suite (Cherokee, Comanche War Dance, Iroquois, Seminole, and Sioux Sue).
Ray Noble (1903-1978)
Cherokee has been recorded over the years by many jazz musicians and singers, including Charlie Parker, Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Art Tatum a.o.
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker used Cherokee for the basis of his 1945 composition Ko-Ko. The song has also been covered as an instrumental by Bud Powell, Clifford Brown, Don Byas, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Harry James, Johnny Smith a.o.

Below is inserted some examples of different versions of Cherokee. The original version by Ray Noble and his Orchestra was recorded in October 1938 for Brunswick


Charlie Barnet (ts) and his orchestra
Billy May arranged Noble's Cherokee for Charlie Barnet and his Orchestra, which had a hit in 1939 with the probably best known version of the tune. Here's Charlie Barnet and his Orchestra in a filmed presentation of Cherokee 


Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker recorded his first version of Cherokee in September 1942 featuring Efferge Ware (g) and Little Phil Phillips (d)


In 1946 Charlie Parker took part in a live recording session in Los Angeles featuring Nat King Cole Trio extended with Benny Carter and Willie Smith (as) besides Parker; one of the recorded tunes was Cherokee 


As mentioned above, Charlie Parker used Cherokee as the basis for his own composition Ko-Ko, first recorded by Parker's Reboppers featuring Dizzy Gillespie (tp,p), Curley Russel (b) and Max Roach (d) in November 1945


Another version of Cherokee explored by be bop giant of the piano Bud Powell was recorded in 1950


Harry James (tp) and Buddy Rich (dm) together in a TV presentation of Harry James and his Orchestra from 1964 end this small review of a famous jazz standard used as a vehichle for improvisation by both swing and be bop musicians

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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Oscar Alemán In New York City, March 1944.

"One time I went to New York, for only four days... and they didn`t allow me to play because I was not associated to the Federation of Musicians. And the Federation required at least six months of residence before being accepted. Then if they said no, I had to get back. Imagine that I had the money to spend during those six months, but if they then didn`t accept me? How could I return [...], having run out of money? I went away and never returned." (Sopeña, G.: Oscar Alemán. Abrazado a mi cavaquinho. Crisis, Nº 21 pp. 29-35 - January 1975) (English translation by 'Tito' Liber)

In March 1944, Oscar Alemán made a mysterious trip to New York. Mysterious, as I haven't been able to find info on the background of this trip. Was it a promotion effort, possibly sponsored by the Argentine devision of Odeon Records to market their recent and successful Latin artist in The Big Apple? Or was it merely Alemán's personal attempt at a breakthrough in the United States to follow up on the success in Argentina? No exact info about the decision and circumstances that gave rise to his trip to the United States seems to be available. Nevertheless, as stated in the short passage of an interview quoted above, he stayed 4 days in New York City. Alemán's problem, however, was that he had not got a license to work as a musician in the USA in advance of the trip. This meant that he could not perform in any of the music venues of the city, which had an agreement with the American Federation of Musicians, nor was he allowed to record without a license. Overall, the trip  seems to have depended on a wrong decision of time and place, as music business in the US in addition was in the middle of a strike launched by the American Federation of Musicians.
AFM seal
On August 1, 1942, the American Federation of Musicians (AMF) had started a strike against the major American recording companies because of disagreements over royalty payments.This meant that union organized musicians no longer were allowed to record for any record company, however, union musicians were allowed to participate on radio programs and other kinds of musical entertainment, but not in a recording session. The AMF recording ban was part of a struggle to get royalties from record sales for a union fund for organized out-of-work musicians. The union had previously opposed the recording of music, or “canned music”. The argument was that musicians were replaced with records in radio, and in cafes and bars bands were replaced with jukeboxes.

Record companies recorded as much music as they could in the run up to the strike and released this backlog through, but also resorted to re-releasing old recordings. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby were among the singers that had to release records without instrumental accompaniment (vocalists were not in the union as they were not considered musicians). One record company recorded and released Shakespeare’s Othello when they had no music to release. An exception to the strike was “victory discs” (V-Discs), which were recorded for US soldiers fighting in World War II and sent to them overseas. Another exception was some small speciality labels. 

The strike stopped business between major record labels and musicians under contract with them. With recording and manufacturing equipment idle from the strike, enterprising music promoters, record distributors, and store owners with the right connections took the opportunity to start small specialty labels, such as Savoy (1942) and Apollo (1943–44), that catered to musicians who were not under contract. Sometimes musicians under contract restrictions recorded for them under pseudonyms. That business model worked in large urban markets such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, where concentrated markets allowed a sufficient return from local distribution. Many of the historically important recordings of jazz and R&B from the mid-1940s originated from these small labels. Although not lucrative for musicians, these small labels gained them exposure that later led to contracts with more established labels.

Decca and Capitol gave into the AFM in 1943, RCA Victor and Columbia held out but eventually backed down in November 1944, and the recording ban ended. (info excerpted from Wikipedia, here, and another online source, here). 
It was these circumstances that met Oscar Alemán when he arrived in New York March 1944. The mentioned record ban was still on and the demand of a six month residence before a musician's license card to work possibly would be allowed him made the situation rather unsecure and hopeless, as a foreign musician eventually would be considered a possible blackleg and a thread to the strike. However, Alemán stayed in NYC for 4 days and surprisingly managed to record a session on March 17, before he decided to return to Argentina!

According to the online OA discography Hans Koert has listed two recordings by Alemán made on March 17, 1944 in NYC. No details about the label and personnel besides Alemán are available, just the matrix numbers and the title of the two tunes. Alemán's latest hit in Argentina was one of the recorded tunes, Bésame mucho (mx 71882), the other was Sweet Georgia Brown (mx 71883). However, these two recordings were unissued and remain an unsolved mystery. 

I have not been able to point out a specific record label which may have made the recordings, any help from readers, discographers and collectors would be much appreciated. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to discuss this matter with Hans Koert, he may have had more info, at least from which source he had the knowledge of a record by Alemán made in NYC with added titles and mx-numbers. My friend and collector of the recently updated Alemán discograpy, 'Tito' Liber, forwarded the short passage of an interwiev with Alemán touching on the trip to the US, but he found no further info on the subject in Argentine sources. 

So, to end this, I encourage anybody with more knowledge about this Alemán trip and the two recordings made in NYC on March 17, 1944 to respond to my request for further info. Contact me by using the e-mail stated below, or feel free to use the comment facility with this blog entry. Thanks in advance!

NB! This entry will also be posted at the Oscar Alemán blog.
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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

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