Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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ALEMÁN, Oscar

(b 20 February 1909, Chaco region, Argentina; d 10 October 1980) Jazz guitarist best known for his work in Europe 1928-39. He worked as a dancer in his teens but took up the cavaquinho (a small Brazilian four-stringed guitar) and was increasingly influenced by jazz. He worked in Argentina and Brazil; with guitarist Gaston Bueno Lobo (as Los Lobos) he toured Spain with black dancer/enterpreneur Harry Fleming; the duo stayed on in Europe, split up in 1932 and Alemán joined the Baker Boys, backing Josephine Baker at the Café de Paris. He recorded with Freddy Taylor's Swing Men from Harlem and with Bill Coleman, Danny Polo etc, returned to Buenos Aires in 1941 and continued playing, teaching and intermittently recording. When Louis Armstrong visited Argentina in 1968 he asked the U.S. Embassy to find Alemán because he wanted to meet him. His fame continued to grow after his death. Jerry Garcia named him as an inspiration for his recording of Irving Berlin's 'Russian Lullaby' (album Compliments of Garcia). Albums have been available on the Old Masters and Redondell labels; Swing Guitar Legend '82 on Rambler compiled some 1938-45 tracks.