Guitar Rarities, Vol. I and II (1933-1947)

November 6, 2007

Nicolai Foss

These two CDs (here and here) are a must for all lovers of post-Langian mainly chordal string wizardry carried out by virtuoso players like Albert Harris, Bert Thomas, Ivor Mairants, Bobby Sherwoord, George Smith, John Cali, and Tony Gattuso on their Epi Deluxes and Emperors or Gibson 400s, in addition to players more associated with the electric guitar, such as George Barnes and Mary Osborne (there is also a fun take with Ivor Mairants playing “In Charlie’s Footsteps” with the Geraldo Orchestra and indeed sounding like CC).

Only about 50% (or even less) of the takes can strictly speaking be classified as “archtop jazz.” The takes with George Smith and the Paul Whiteman orchestra (with Art Ryerson, Tony Gattuso or Alan Reuss in the guitar chair) are definitely pop music. Sirupy and often corny. But the guitar playing is still superb. Even on the more jazzy numbers, most of the music is 100% arranged. But then again, this is just excellent guitar music. I particularly enjoyed the John Cali-Tony Gattuso and Albert Harris-Ivor Mairants duets, completely unknown to me when I purchased these CDs about a year ago.

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