in boxed set with 148-page booklet; featuring 78 guitar legends from 33
different labels) – Columbia Legacy K86462-S1 *****:
What a magnificent collection! – probably the definitive compilation on
the development of jazz guitar, ranging from an Edison cylinder
recording of banjoist Vess Ossman in 1906 to the present day and
figures such as John Scofield, Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell. The
introduction on the boxed set points out that before the guitar became
the symbol of rebellion and the musical center of rock n’ roll, there
were many great guitarists in jazz and blues. Some of the major
figures represented in this wide-ranging compendium includes such
performers who were active in both rock and jazz such as Carlos
Santana, Larry Coryell, and Jeff Beck. There is even a track from Jimi
Hendrix, who has been a prime influence on so many electric guitarists
even though he is identified with rock and blues.
All the tracks on the four discs – as many 26 on the first one – are
credited with the name of the guitarist, the date of recording, and any
additional important players with them. There is a photo of every one
of the 78 great guitarists in the handsome booklet, with at least a
paragraph about each one. Some, such as Carlos Santana, rate more
than a full page. There’s a lovely photo of Django on the stoop of his
gypsy trailer showing his guitar to a small boy clutching a Tarzan
comic book. An essay by guitar expert Charles Alexander, old ads for
guitars and photos of beautiful models of guitars adorn the booklet.
There are some great solos written out for amateur guitarists to try,
and a long list of recommendations of favorite albums and testimonials
about their inspirations from 25 guitar heroes.
I realized going thru this collection that I wasn’t as knowledgeable
about guitarists as I was about keyboardists. Several of the 78
guitarists I had never heard before, and in a few cases I’m stoked to
pick up one of their albums as a result of hearing the one track
example of their work. Even among the early guitarists there were
several new to me, but of course such pioneers as Eddie Lang, Eddie
Condon, Django, Charlie Christian and Slim Gaillard are on CD No. 1.
The sonic quality is very high on all the tracks, even on this first
disc. Considering the wide range of sources from 33 different record
labels, this is quite an achievement. In addition to the early banjo
example, there are forays out of the mainstream jazz world into Western
Swing, Hawaiian music , bossa nova and even the avant garde.
There’s simply no space to list all the 78 selections, but here are
just a few of the other guitar legends heard in this set which is a
must-have for any fan of jazz guitar: George Barnes, Oscar Aleman,
Oscar Moore, Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney, Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Tal
Farlow, Johnny Smith, Jim Hall, Laurindo Almeida, Wes Montgomery, Herb
Ellis, Joe Pass, George Benson, Pat Martino, Charlie Byrd, John
McLaughlin, John Abercrombie, Ralph Towner, Pat Metheny, Earl Klugh,
Lee Ritenour, Al Di Meola, Larry Carlton.
– John Henrys