Hittin' on All Six
is an extraordinary introduction to the early decades of jazz guitar--to its most distinguished players and its evolution as an instrument. Beginning with Lonnie Johnson and his transformation of blues guitar in 1927, it traces the guitar's progress to the heyday of bop, concluding with late-1940s performances by Billy Bauer and Jimmy Raney. Along the way, there are six-track portraits of the period's two greatest soloists. Django Reinhardt's sparkling acoustic is heard merging jazz and gypsy idioms, while Charlie Christian, father of modern electric lead playing, is heard with Benny Goodman, on his sole acoustic session with Edmond Hall, and in a live recording from Minton's Playhouse announcing the dawn of bop.
Along with using the most celebrated soloists, Hittin' on All Six includes the finest rhythm guitarists, like Freddie Green (an essential component of the Count Basie rhythm section), and technical innovators like Eddie Durham, responsible for first applying the amplified guitar to jazz. There's also a remarkable gallery of musicians who are little-known today, from once prominent guitarists, like Tiny Grimes and Mary Osborne, to the genuinely obscure, like Efferge Ware and Bus Etri. Highlights among the more obscure tracks include Teddy Bunn's 1941 solo feature "Blues Without Words" and John Collins's 1947 recording of "John's Delight" with Tadd Dameron.
The emphasis is on guitarists here, but the set may also introduce fans of the instrument to some of jazz's greatest figures. Lonnie Johnson appears with both Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, Eddie Lang is heard with Bix Beiderbecke, Teddy Bunn with Sidney Bechet, and Barney Kessel with Charlie Parker. While the set comes at a budget price, there's nothing budget about the content. The sound restoration on the early tracks is excellent, and the accompanying booklet is detailed and informative. This is an essential compilation for anyone interested in jazz guitar, a substantial introduction for neophytes with some hard-to-find delights to engage experienced listeners. --Stuart Broomer
The ninth release in the ever more successful Proper Box series. This four CD set tells the story of the jazz guitar from New Orleans through to the bebop era and features 48 of the greatest jazz guitarists ever to pluck a string including Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Lonnie Johnson, Freddie Green, Barney Kessel and many more. 94 tracks, over four hours of music, 52 page fully illustrated booklet. 2000 release. 4 standard jewelcases housed in a heavy duty box which measures 5 x 6 x 2 inches approx. proper. 2006