|Birth name||Oscar Marcelo Alemán|
February 20, 1909|
Resistencia, Chaco, Argentina
|Died||October 14, 1980
|Occupations||Jazz guitarist, vocalist, and dancer|
He was the fourth child of seven born to pianist Malcela Pereira (a native Argentine of the Toba people), and Jorge Alemán Moreira, who played guitar in a folk quartet, with his own children, Carlos, Jorgelina and Juan.
Orphaned by the age of ten, after his mother had died and his father had committed suicide (1919), Alemán found himself working sporadically as a dancer and musician on the streets of Santos, Brazil. When he saved enough money, he bought a guitar and started to play professionally in party venues, forming the "Los Lobos" duo with his friend, Brazilian guitarist Gastón Bueno Lobo, with whom he would return to Buenos Aires in 1925 to work under contract for the comedian Pablo Palitos.
In Buenos Aires, they formed a trio with violinist Elvino Vardaro. They added tango to their repertoire, and recorded with Agustín Magaldi and later played with Carlos Gardel and Enrique Santos Discépolo.
In the 1930s, having discovered American jazz via Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti, Alemán moved to Paris where he was hired by Josephine Baker to lead her band, the Baker Boys at the Cafe de Paris. This provided him an opportunity to play regularly with American musicians who would come to see Baker and sit in with her band.
He made the acquaintance of Django Reinhardt while in Paris, and would sometimes substitute for the notoriously unreliable gypsy, but never recorded with him.
Alemán later formed his own nine-piece band, which would play nightly at the Le Chantilly in Paris.
Return to Argentina
The Nazi invasion of France during World War II forced him to return to Argentina. He continued playing there with his hit "Rosa madreselva", and continued to record and perform with both a swing quintet, as well as with a nine-piece orchestra.
From his relationship with the actress Carmen Vallejo he had a daughter, Selva Alemán.
In 1972 at the age of 63, Alemán recorded a new album, which helped re-launch his career with the reissue of many of his previous recordings, along with concert dates and television appearances.
He continued to teach and perform in his native country until his death in 1980 at 71 years of age.
Style, technique and equipment
"I knew Django Reinhardt well. He used to say jazz was gipsy - we often argued over that. I agree with many Americans I met in France who said he played very well but with too many gipsy tricks. He had very good technique for both hands, or rather one hand and a pick, because he always played with a pick. Not me, I play with my fingers. There are things you can't do with a pick - you can't strike the treble with two fingers and play something else on the bass string. - But I admired him and he was my friend. He was my greatest friend in France. We played together many times, just for ourselves. I used to go to his wagon, where he lived. I've slept and eaten there - and also played! He had three or four guitars. Django never asked anyone to go to his wagon, but he made an exception with me. I appreciated him, and I believe the feeling was mutual".
According to Jorge Larsen, "Although he kept playing Latin music up to the end, he never jazzed it, but was always very careful to maintain each genre's authenticity."
Critic Leonard Feather wrote: "Alemán has more swing than any other guitarist on the continent", and "His tone, phrasing, swing, and attack are so grand that if anyone ever mentions Django Reinhardt to me again, I shall stare coldly."
Alemán was best known for playing the D-hole Selmer Maccaferri (also played by Django Reinhardt). He also used a National Style 1 tri-cone resonator guitar., nylon string guitars and archtop guitars.
His life was portrayed in Hernan Gaffet´s documentary film Oscar Aleman. Vida Con Swing.
In 2002, the Internacional Festival of Jazz Guitar «Oscar Alemán», was created in his honor.
- Hawaianita (1927–1929), Buenos Aires
- Ya lo sé (1930–1933), Madrid-París
- Fox-musette n.º 301 (1933–1935), París
- St. Louis Stomp (1936–1938), París
- Doing the gorgonzola (1939–1940), París
- Susurrando (1941–1942), Buenos Aires
- Negra de cabello duro (1943–1944), Buenos Aires
- Haciendo una nueva picardía (1945–1949), Buenos Aires
- Swanee River (1951), Buenos Aires
- Scartunas (1952), Buenos Aires
- Minuet (1953), Buenos Aires
- Ardiente sol (1954), Buenos Aires
- Estambul (1955), Buenos Aires
- Juca (1956–1957), Buenos Aires
- Guitarra de amor (1965), Buenos Aires
- Sueño de víbora (1966–1969), Buenos Aires
- Moritat (1970–1972), Buenos Aires
- Tengo ritmo (1973–1978), Buenos Aires
- Vestido de bolero (1979–1980), Buenos Aires
- Hombre mío (1960–1980), Buenos Aires
- Sí... otra vez! (1979), Buenos Aires
- Swing Guitar Masterpieces 1938-1957 (2 CD Collection) DAWG Productions/Acoustic Disc, 1997
- Carner, Gary; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Alemán, Oscar (Marcelo)". In Barry Kernfeld. The new Grove dictionary of jazz, vol. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 26. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
- Bob Brozman, The History & Artistry of National Resonator Instruments, Centerstream Publishing, 1993, ISBN 0-931759-70-6
- Classic Jazz Guitar
- "Oscar Alemán, vida con swing (2001)".
- Ecomchaco.com.ar (Festival Oscar Alemán).
- Classic Jazz Guitar
- The Rediscovery of Oscar Aleman (Blog)
- Oscar Aleman. Vida con Swing en IMDB
- (Spanish) Chaco.gov.ar
- (Spanish) Oscar-Aleman.com.ar
- (Spanish) "Oscar Alemán, retazos de una leyenda", in Sudestada magazine