Oscar Marcelo Alemán (February 20, 1909 – October 14, 1980) was an Argentine jazz guitarist.He was a singer, dancer, entertainer, and guitarist.
In the 1930s, having discovered American Jazz , 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 Jazz musicians who would come to see Josephine and sit in with her band.
Alemán later formed his own nine-piece band which would play nightly at the Le Chantilly, just across town from where Django Reinhardt and his partner violinist Stephane Grappelli would be performing at The Hot Club of France with their Quintet. Although these two geniuses of the guitar never recorded together, they became close friends.
Again as a solo act, he toured Europe, playing with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington.
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.
He continued to teach and perform in his native country until his death in 1980 at 71 years of age.
Alemán generally played with thumb pick and fingers. He compares his style and technique to Django Reinhardt's:
"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.