From the Record Shelves #35

Midnight Call Blues

CD Yazoo 1059

Eddie Lang became one of the most lamented heroes in jazz history when he never woke up after a routine tonsillectomy in 1933. But before that he had made a great impact as a true pioneer of guitar playing which gave the instrument a new role in small groups as well as in big orchestras. His real name was Salvatore Massaro and much of his work was done in company with another Italo-American Joe Venuti.

On the record we hear Eddie playing solo or in duet with other guitar players (Carl Kress and Lonnie Johnson) or with some of the top piano players (Frank Signorelli, Arthur Schutt or Rube Bloom).

In this blues number Eddie and Lonnie display their two contrasting styles, but they are also influencing each other. It’s Johnson playing lead in the beginning and at the end of the piece but in the middle Lang takes two choruses, one in bass register and one with his more usual sound in the treble. Lonnie Johnson did nearly all his playing in the key of “D”, tuning down his bass strings to “G” and “D” and Eddie Lang adapted to that.

Since the 1920s, the guitar has become a very popular instrument and in effect these recordings have been released many times but seldom with as good sound as here. The art work is by Robert Crumb.