Archive for August, 2009

Jordan Officer and His Kelvinator (?)

August 31, 2009

Nicolai Foss

In an earlier post, I wondered whether any serious contemporary jazz player regularly used one of the cheapo US-produced archtops of the post-war period.

Here is Jordan Officer delivering a nice version of “Playboy Chimes” (Bob Wills?) on what would seem to be a blonde, single-pick-up Kay Barney Kessel with the “Kelvinator” headstock (I wasn’t aware that the Barney Kessel model was made with a single pick-up; hence, I am a bit uncertain re whether this is really the model Officer is playing).

More Officer here, this time with a solid-body. Officer is best known for his work with the Susan Arioli Band; here is the YouTube selection.

Boogaloo Joe Jones

August 30, 2009

Nicolai Foss

I only recently came across the soul jazz guitar work of Ivan Joseph Jones, aka “Boogaloo Joe” Jones (1940 – ?). He is seldom, if ever, mentioned in jazz encyclopediae or jazz guitar books. Only active for little more than a decade (1966-1978), “Boogaloo Joe” was clearly overlooked, in spite of great talent . He apparently completely disappeared from the music scene and little is known about his current whereabouts. The acid jazz craze led to a rediscovery of his work (here is the Amazon listing). Dougpayne.com has a bio and a list of recordings. Here is “Boogaloo” on youtube.

More Stuff for Sale from the Duke Robillard Collection

August 30, 2009

Nicolai Foss

Here is Duke’s Gibson EH-150 amplifier, offered at a 2,200 USD buy-it-now price. And here are some detailed pics of the EH-150 (posted on the nice, nerdy Vintage Gibson Amp Gallery). Although the EH-150 may be almost as much associated with Charlie Christian and the ES-150 model as the famous blade pick-up, the amplifier was originally developed as a partner to the EH-150 lap steel guitar, Gibson’s first truly electric instrument. Apropos: Duke also offers a EH-150 lap steel for sale.

Lloyd Loar Article in Acoustic Guitar

August 23, 2009

Nicolai Foss

The September issue of Acoustic Guitar features an article by Walter Carter on “Loar’s Legacy.” I guess most of the info is available here and there on the net, but the article brings the entire Loar story together in a compact well-written form.

HT to Randy Westgren.

Strange …

August 22, 2009

Nicolai Foss

About 20 years ago, I was the unhappy owner of a Harmony H1310, their top of the line instrument, and apparently a self-believed competitor to Gibson’s cheaper archtops (like the L50). Well, no Harmony has ever — at least in my experience — been able to hold a candle to any Gibson archtop. Indeed, my 1310 was a truly bad guitar with very high action (“good for slide guitar”), lacking intonation, and crappy finish.

Surprisingly, Harmony archtops are sometimes sold at relatively high prices, particularly in Europe (I have seen some fetch as much as 1000 Euros). Perhaps this is the reason why some (Korea-based?) producers have spotted a potential opportunity by producing replicas of the H954 Broadway; see here. Elderly offers it at 599 USD.

Bucky & Marty Workin’ Out

August 22, 2009

Nicolai Foss

It is a sad fact that arguably all the truly major innovators in classical jazz guitar playing — Eddie Lang, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery — died much too young. Perhaps only bass players have been hit to the same extent (Jimmy Blanton, Paul Chambers, Scott LaFaro).

Luckily, Les Paul — who as you all know died on August 13 — made it to the age of 94. And there are quite a number of old timers among us who play with gusto and excellence. Case in point: Bucky Pizzarelli and Marty Grosz engaging in an impromptu duet, playing the great Dick McDonough 1934 number, “Stage Fright.” Bucky is 83 and Marty is 79 (and looks 10 years younger). (Apropos, anyone knows of tabs, charts, etc. of “Stage Fright”?).

Duke Selling Out

August 20, 2009

Nicolai Foss

Literally. Here. And here. The buy-it-now price on the Triumph strikes me as quite reasonable. Duke has long been an Epiphone afficionado, and most of his jazz recordings feature vintage Epis.

Eddie Lang Playing Stack-O’-Lee Blues

August 20, 2009

Nicolai Foss

The rather trivial 1895 murder of William Lyons by Lee Shelton must have been covered in several hundred, slightly different, songs about “Stagger Lee”, “Stack-O-Lee”, “Stagolee”, etc., from Missisipi John Hurt to The Clash. I only realized today that jazz guitar pioneer Eddie Lang had participated in a 1928 recording of the song with Cliff Edwards (of Disney fame) singing. Note Eddie’s strange “slap-guitar” plucking, starting around 0.13.

National Page

August 20, 2009

Nicolai Foss

Here is a fun and informative page on National guitars. To be sure, the Nationals, Dobros, etc. have mainly been popular among blues players. Yet, there is a distant archtop connection, for like the archtop guitar, the National is a product of the 1920s jazz craze and the attempt to compete with banjo players, including trying to combine the loudness of the banjo with the richer melodic and harmonic possibilities offered by the guitar. And of course the incomparable Oscar Aleman played a National.