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Pioneers of Jazz Guitar - 1927-1939

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Album Review

This 1998 CD has a great deal of timeless music. Guitar features were very rare in jazz prior to Django Reinhardt, and particularly before the guitar became amplified in the late '30s. This essential reissue has all of Eddie Lang's guitar features (leaving out only a few numbers in which he led a bigger group), the two Lang/Carl Kress duets, the Kress/Dick McDonough duets, and all of Kress' unaccompanied solos. The Lang numbers (mostly duets with Arthur Schutt, Frank Signorelli, or Rube Bloom offering quiet support on piano) were unprecedented in jazz at the time. Highlights include "Add a Little Wiggle," "I'll Never Be the Same," and "There'll Be Some Changes Made." Actually, the most memorable moments on this CD are the two Lang/Kress collaborations, classics from 1932 called "Pickin' My Way" and "Feelin' My Way." Lang's single-note lines work perfectly with Kress' advanced chords, and it is surprising that no arranger has transcribed these wonderful performances and orchestrated them for a larger group. Highly recommended, and proof that the jazz guitar did not begin with Charlie Christian.


Born: 25 October 1902 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s

The first jazz guitar virtuoso, Eddie Lang was everywhere in the late '20s; all of his fellow musicians knew that he was the best. A boyhood friend of Joe Venuti, Lang took violin lessons for 11 years but switched to guitar before he turned professional. In 1924, he debuted with the Mound City Blue Blowers and was soon in great demand for recording dates, both in the jazz world and in commercial settings. His sophisticated chord patterns made him a superior accompanist who uplifted everyone else's...
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Pioneers of Jazz Guitar - 1927-1939, Eddie Lang
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