Archive for September, 2007

Susie Arioli Swing Band Feat. Jordan Officer

September 29, 2007

Nicolai Foss

I had never heard of the the Susie Arioli (Swing) Band when I borrowed their 2001 CD, Pennies From Heaven, last week. Listening to it has been a delightful experience. Arioli has a very good voice, the great late stride pianist Ralph Sutton is featured on a couple of tracks, and the solo voice on guitar, young Jordan Officer (25 when the CD was recorded), plays brilliantly, reminiscent of George Barnes or Bucky Pizzarelli’s approach to single-string playing (he can also a hefty blues guitar). He is pictured with a pick-up-less Gibson L7C, but it sounds as if he adds a Dearmond pickup for his playing. The rhythm guitar backup is excellent (as is the occassional acoustic solo). If you are into light intimate swing, the hot club style, and early jazz in general, this record is very highly recommended!

Epiphone Roundup

September 28, 2007

Nicolai Foss

There seems to be an unusual amount of beautiful Epi archtops on ebay at the moment, including a stunning 1951 Zephyr Deluxe Regent, a cool little Zenith, another Zenith with a New York pick-up assembly,an Olympic with a Silvertone pickup, a fantastic Deluxe (hefty price!), and a somewhat less fantastic Deluxe.

Mystery Archtop

September 27, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Ever heard of a Rolz (or Rölz) archtop? Me neither. But here is one. Very pretty. Like the Epi Emperor in the body shape (but smaller) and nice flamed back. Tailpiece, pickguard and tuners may be later additions.

Air Mail Special on Spanish Guitar

September 27, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Can Charlie Christian’s “Air Mail Special” be played on anything but electro-spanish guitars? Of course. It can be very nicely played on a Spanish/classical guitar. Here. Certainly pretty.

Jimmy Shirley

September 25, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Here is a Jimmy Shirley tribute page (in German), a largely forgotten player who worked in swing and early bebop but later on became best known as a blues player (among other things, he backed Screamin’ Jay Hawkins!).

Teddy Bunn with the Spirits of Rhythm

September 24, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Teddy Bunn may be one of the prime candidates for the title of most-undeservedly-overlooked-jazz-guitast. Bunn was a contemporary of Django Reinhardt and Oscar Aleman, and like them, but unlike other contemporaries such as Carl Kress and Dick McDonough, Bunn cultivated a single-string approach to jazz guitar. Perhaps closest to Aleman’s punchy style and technique (Bunn also picked with his thumb), but an admirer of Reinhardt, Bunn was overshadowed by both. However, his stuff is most certainly worth listening to, particularly for the pretty, simple, bluesy, and extremely rhytmically vital improvisations he put forward. They were seldom longer than a single chorus (which for an guitar player in the 1930s was already a lot). His playing sometimes strikes me as something like a 1930s equivalent of Grant Green.

About a week ago, I received my copy of Spirits of Rhythm, 1932-1941, and I have been listening to little else since then. This is great, happy and hard swinging music, carried out on a paper-wrapped suitcase, tiples, and of course Teddy’s Masterbuilt Epi (he later played a Gibson Super 400). Bunn absolutely shines on these cuts, particularly on the mock spiritual, “I will be ready when the great day comes”. The later cuts feature Bunn on electric guitar.

The Big One on British Ebay

September 21, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Here. The seller seems to me to undersell. The guitar looks relatively clean, except for that terrible circular cut. Your chance to land an Emperor for a reasonable amount of money?

Tony Rizzi Tribute

September 20, 2007

Nicolai Foss has just published this excellent tribute by Jim LaDiana to one of the greatest of the California studio guitarists, Tony Rizzi, and his “wire choirs,” i.e., Rizzi’s emulation of the Super Sax concept. Here is the wire choir playing Charlie Christian’s solo on “I Found a New Baby.” And here is the album with all the Christian solos.

WEHT Elek Bacsik?

September 19, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Along with Snoozer Quinn, Elec Bacsik (1926-1993) is often talked about as the great mystery in jazz guitar. The story goes that Bacsik produced two truly excellent albums in the early 1960s, “Guitar Conceptions” and “The Electric Guitar of the Eclectic Elek Bacsik” (re-issued as “Nuages”), left for the US, and basically disappeared, popping up twice for the production of two albums with bop violin playing, before dying in complete neglect in 1993. Add that Bacsik was of Hungarian gypsy background. And add suggestions of substance abuse, and you have sufficient ingredients for a romantic tale of tragic musical genius.

However, things may be a bit more mundane, or at least well-documented. Thus, we know a fair amount about Bacsik’s musical activities after he left France for the United States. Here is a relatively detailed French biography that among other things mentions that he recorded in the US with Hank Jones and Grady Tate (which doesn’t exactly indicate complete obscurity). Here is another biography, also in French, that explains that Bacsik was active until illness around 1990 made it impossible for him to play in public.

Here is Bacsik accompanying Serge Gainsbourg on “All the Things you Are”

Les Paul and the Log

September 18, 2007

Nicolai Foss

“The Log” is the famous prototype constructed by Les Paul from a 4” by 4” fence post and an Epi archtop. Effectively the first solid body guitar, and the main reason why Les was inducted into The National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. Here is Les playing, but I cannot see whether he is actually playing The Log or whether it is an un-amputated Epi.