The eighteen tracks of this compilation witness Eddie Lang’s art and style. Briefly, some of their peculiarities:
Track 1 – Stringing the blues
Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti: the perfect pair. Friends since childhood, they had a telepathic musical interplay and a terrific swing. Their duo recordings (sometime backed by piano) are milestones of early jazz.
Track 2 – Singing’ the blues
An excellent example of Lang’s ability to create great counter melodies under the soloist.
Track 3 – Goin’ places
As track 1, but the presence of a (quite inaudible) piano comping lets Lang more free to create bass runs and breaks. A very good example of Lang’s great technique.
Track 4 – Wringin’ an’ twistin’
As track 2 but here we have also Lang soloing in single notes, with his typical ‘trumpet’ inspired lines. Notice his ending.
Track 5 – The wild dog
Eddie Lang is the backbone of the whole quintet here, a real swing machine that allows Venuti’s flight.
Track 6 & 7 – Rainbow dreams – Add a little wiggle
Eddie Lang in full evidence on these tracks, backed with elegance by pianist Frank Signorelli.
Track 8 - No more
As said before, Lang was one of the busiest studio musician of his era. This meant for him to work with anybody, sometimes real jazz stars like Bix or Satchmo, sometimes more obscure players. Being a real professional, Lang’s musical work was of a constantly high level. Here it’s quite hard to stand Boyd Senter’s lines but Lang’s comping and single-note solo is one of his best ever.
Track 9 & 10 – Doin’ things – Wild cat
Same as track 3. ‘Wild cat’ is a killer!
Track 11 – It’s right here for you
Three sides of Lang in one tune: at first rhythmic chordal work and counter melody under the soloist, then a single note solo and in the end stellar rhythmic chordal work again.
Track 12 – Wild geese blues
Rarely a white musician has absorbed the real blues essence like Lang did. He was so good that blues singers very often wanted him for their recording sessions. This is an example of Lang’s blues comping work, backing singer Gladys Bentley.
Track 13 – Knocking a jug
Satchmo here: this track is jazz history and could not be missing here but (i.m.h.o.) Lang’s bluesy solo is a little ‘lazier’ than his standard level.
Track 14 – Kitchen man
Still the blues side of Eddie Lang, here with Bessie Smith and Clarence Williams. A masterpiece.
Track 15 – Hot fingers
Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson: the sides recorded by this duo are among the things that make life beautiful. Originally issued (for racial reasons) as Lonnie Johnson & Blind Willie Dunn, very rarely guitar duos have reached, since then, such an extraordinary level of swing (for one exception to this, see track 18).
Track 16 & 17 – Runnin’ ragged – Sweet Sue, just you
Here, track 16 is a good example of how much Lang’s rhythmic drive could be fundamental for the good result of a session, while track 17 contains one of Lang’s best ‘single note-trumpet inspired’ solos of the last years of his career.
Track 18 – Pickin’ my way
As said in track 15, very rarely guitar duos have reached the level of Lang & Johnson. One exception to this is here: Eddie Lang and Carl Kress. Together, they recorded only two sides which are true masterpieces of jazz guitar. More complex in the structure and less bluesy than L&J ones, but nevertheless swinging like mad.
Eddie Lang’s life ended when he was only 31 year old, for complications following a tonsillectomy.
This compilation is dedicated to his great talent and artistry.