Now Playing #34

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.


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