Swing Guitar

Dedicated to pre-bebop jazz guitar.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

X-mas Gift List: CD's to buy now

Since the Christmas season is rolling around again, I figured I'd put together a list of essential recording you might want to look into or ask for this Christmas.

Overview Samplers:
Various: Pioneers of Jazz Guitar: 1927-1939 (Yazoo) - This is a 24 track collection of Eddie Lang, Carl Kress and Dick McDounough playing in solo and duo settings. These are examples of the original jazz guitar tradition. All jazz guitar starts here.
Various: Hittin' on All Six (Proper Box) - This $20 dollar, 4-CD set is a fantastic value, AND it's an essential collection of early jazz guitar. It has a pretty scattershot sampling of some artists, but has so many great tracks, and many that you'd otherwise have to buy a whole CD to get one track. Plus the liner notes are informative and the personel is listed on everything.
Various: Swing to Bop: Guitars in Flight 1939-1947 (Hep) - This one CD has perhaps the best sampling of rare and unique tracks, without adding too many duplicates. There is no Charlie Christian, no Freddie Green, no Eddie Lang, and no early Django - franky, you should have the complete recording of each of those artists anyway. This has a bunch of track you'd otherwise have a hard time finding. Pickin' for Patsy (Allan Reuss), Buck Jumpin' Al Casey) are crucial tracks, and the samplings of George Barnes, Mary Osbourne, early Les Paul, and Tony Mattola are really good.

Artist Collections:
Charlie Christian: The Genius of the Electric Guitar (Columbia Legacy) - This 4 CD Box Set is bascially the single best thing I've ever bought. Here, you get ALL of the BG sessions that CC played on, including all of the alternate takes. The sound quality is top notch (you can hear the pitches of Nick Fatool's tom-toms on the intro to "Sheik") and the liner notes are superlative. A MUST HAVE. But it doesn't have any airchecks or the Minton's jam sessions...
Charlie Christian: Complete Live Recordings (Definitive) - This 4 CD Box Set is all of the CC airchecks and jam sessions at Minton's. Add this to the Columbia box and you've got all of CC's recordings, except for his random sideman work with other artists such as Lionel Hampton, Edmund Hall, etc.
Oscar Aleman: Swing Guitar Masterpieces 1937-1957 (Acoustic) - This 2-disc is most of the Oscar Aleman that is available outside of Argentina. The liner notes are loving written by David Grisman and feature a transcription of Aleman's "Sweet Sue" solo.
George Barnes: The Complete Standard Transcrpitions - George Barnes is definately the first electric jazz guitarist, and he is pretty unknown quantity relative to his contemporaries. Growing up the midwest some of his work has a fantastic western swing influence, but its all jazz. This 2-disc features Barnes' own small group which is very orchestrated chamber jazz. Good stuff none-the-less.

I'll keep adding stuff as I think of them.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Great record

I though I should plug a great record I played on last year.

Jeremy Wakefield - Steel Guitar Caviar - Eccofonic Records

Jeremy Wakefield is probably one of, if not the best lap steel guitar player in the world. He's played with Asleep at the Wheel, Wayne Hancock, Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys, the Hot Club of Cowtown and currently of both the Lucky Stars and the Bonebrake Syncopators. The record is a classic 50's-style instrumental jazz steel guitar record. Since that style would mostly be pre-bop, its really swings. Jeremy is a jaw-dropping soloist no mater what instrument you play. The other musicians are just fantastic as well. The legendary TK Smith, formerly of Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys and now of the Bonebrake Syncopators, plays lead guitar on several tracks as does Russ Blake from the Lucky Stars. On the track "Sugarfoot Stomp", Jake Erwin and Whit Smith of the Hot Club of Cowtown sit in. Carl Sonny Leyland plays organ as well. Finall, DJ Bonebrake, of X and the Bonebrake Syncopators, plays vibes on several tracks.
Yours truly plays rhyhtm on all the tracks, and lead on "Delaware Drive" and "Dark Circles."

Another forum resource

Here's another resource for Django-style playing:

Also, the whole www.djangobooks.com site is filled with Django resources.

The forum has some unique sections, such as some non-guitar categories for other instruments. I was just posting in the bass section about proper bass playing. Basically its the same stuff I've written about here. I'll probably use that post as the starting point for a post here on the proper style of swing bass playing.