Stringing the Blues
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Kudos to Koch Records for unearthing this essential 1962 double-album Columbia set featuring the work of two vital jazz pioneers. Guitarist Eddie Lang and violinist Joe Venuti were central figures in the jazz world of the late 1920s and early 1930s, gigging with bands of all shapes, sizes, and styles and taking their respective instruments to places they hadn't been previously. These 32 cuts range from 1928 to 1933, and they are not only wonderful examples of the genius of Lang and Venuti, but they give a vivid picture of the complete jazz landscape of the day. Everyone from Bing Crosby to Clarence Williams to Tommy Dorsey (on trumpet) to Frankie Trumbauer to King Oliver pops up on the set. Lang and Venuti are also heard leading their own magnificent duets, trios, and quartets, and there's a handful of the landmark blues duets featuring Lang (billed as Blind Willie Dunn) and Lonnie Johnson. Highlights are plentiful: Listen to the incredibly tricky arrangement on Venuti's aptly named barnburner "The Wild Dog." Or how a stately intro gives way to an ebullient romp on "I've Found a New Baby." Or how on "It's Right Here for You," Lang effortlessly moves from superb single-string soloing to vibrant rhythm work. Both musicians love to teeter in the upper registers--Venuti on "I Got Rhythm," Lang on "Church Street Sobbin' Blues." Hear Venuti mischievously plucking away on "Cheese and Crackers." Across novelties and standards alike, the duo display a wonderful sense of humor that never devolves into camp, technical mastery that never gets in the way of flair or fun, and a magical effervescence that still glows decades later. --Marc Greilsamer --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.