Born Salvatore Massaro on this day in 1902, Eddie Lang was the first great guitarist in jazz, and among the earliest guitar heroes in the history of popular music. A virtuoso on his instrument, Lang and his violinist partner brought classical chops to their music and pioneered an influential form of chamber jazz that would be so successfully imitated by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli as to nearly eclipse their own reputations. Lang died tragically at the age of 30 but fortunately for music lovers he was a prolific recording artist as soloist, sideman and freelance session player and his superb musicianship is well documented. Highlights include his solo recordings, which feature his own charming compositions and extreme virtuosity; his many small group recordings with hot jazz stars like Clarence Williams, Bix Beiderbecke, King Oliver and of course Joe Venuti; and his brilliant duets with Lonnie Johnson, probably his only equal at the time. What he might have accomplished had he lived into the age of bebop and electrification can hardly be imagined.
Archive for the Album Art Category
Thanks to my own dear mother, my tiny mind was permanently warped at a worryingly early age by repeated listening to those first three Mothers albums. They remain firm favourites to this day, particularly We’re Only In It For the Money, one of the most brilliant albums of all time. An avant-garde, through-composed suite mixing parodic rock with musique concrète it astutely and ruthlessly summed up and satirized the hippie phenomenon, foreshadowing the movement’s disillusioned collapse at Altamont and Kent State in the process. Flower Power sucks indeed.