Orquesta Aleman was one of the longest-running ensembles in the Cuban
orquesta tipica style as well as the stronghold of the Aleman family musical dynasty. Padre Jose Aleman started the group in the late 1870s, bringing to the table his skills on at least four instruments as well as prodigious composition discipline. When he died in 1924 his son, the clarinetist Ramon Aleman took over the group, eventually changing each instrumentalist in the specified lineup like a shade-tree mechanic completely replacing the insides of a Merc-50.
Even with such care no car would run for 100 years: yet the Aleman family enterprise had a good chance to do just that considering the longevity of the style. It was actually the 18th century when Cubans began embracing a unique type of ensemble combining brass and reed instruments with pair of violins and a small percussion section of timbales and guiro. Orquesta Aleman came along when the style was in its second century of audience loyalty; when the group finally broke up in the first half of the '30s, the style itself was in its final decades of popularity on the island. Under Jose Aleman's direction the group performed in Florida in the '20s. One of the most unique features of this group was a brass instrument known as an ophicleide. Other musical members of the Aleman family include Juan Tomas Aleman, violinist in the original lineup of the group, Jose Valdes Aleman, violinist in the son's new configuration, and Oscar Aleman, a bandleader in his own right.