The sixth of RKO's Fred Astaire -Ginger Rogers pairings of the 1930s, Swing Time starts off with bandleader Astaire getting cold feet on his wedding day. Astaire's bride-to-be Betty Furness will give him a second chance, providing he proves himself responsible enough to earn $25,000. Astaire naturally tries to avoid earning that amount once he falls in love with dance instructor Ginger Rogers. Numerous complications ensue, leading to the "second time's the charm" climax, with Ginger escaping her own wedding to wealthy Georges Metaxa in order to be reunited with Astaire. The film's most indelible image is that of Fred Astaire, immaculately attired in top hat and tails, hopping a freight car–a perfect encapsulation of the film's Depression-era cheekiness. The Jerome Kern-Dorothy Fields score includes such standards-to-be as "Pick Yourself Up," "A Fine Romance," "The Way You Look Tonight," "Never Gonna Dance" and "Bojangles of Harlem."
The title Swing Is Here would have been more appropriate for the 1930s instead of 1960 when this album was originally issued, and the big-band era had long since waned. Yet vibraphonist Terry Gibbs kept the home fires burning out in California with this exceptional orchestra of cool jazz giants playing a stack of standards and modern compositions by Bill Holman or Gibbs, and one look back with an Artie Shaw number. What is most interesting about these arrangements is that they are always different in emphasizing the fleet, dampened sound of Gibbs in contrast, apart from, or in tandem with the woodwinds and brass instruments.
Oscar Alemán is one of the great unknown talents in jazz history. A brilliant guitarist who sounded very close to Django Reinhardt at times, Alemán was overshadowed in Europe by Reinhardt in the 1930s and spent much of the rest of his career in his native Argentina, remaining well known only in that country. This 1998 double CD from Dave Grisman's Acoustic Disc label has highlights from Alemán's career, including the eight selections he recorded during his three European sessions of 1938-1939, plus music from 1941-1947 and 1951-1954. Although the settings varied (including a sextet with violinist Svend Asmussen, a nonet, and two unaccompanied guitar solos), Alemán's basic swing style stayed the same, retaining its enthusiasm and creativity and remaining unaffected by bop. Sticking throughout to acoustic guitar and taking an occasional good-time vocal, Alemán is heard in peak form. He deserves to be much better known. A definitive two-fer from a major talent.