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November 5, 2008

Joe Venuti & Eddie Lang - Stringin' the Blues

...pieced together from various sources

Venuti claimed to have been born aboard a ship as his parents emigrated from Italy, though many believe he was simply born in Philadelphia. Later in life he said that he was born in Italy in 1896 and that he came to the U.S. in 1906. He became THE great jazz violinist: the father of jazz violin. Eddie Lang (who was also known as Blind Willie Dunn) was a boyhood friend of Venuti, and was the first great jazz guitarist (some say the best-ever rhythm guitarist). They preceded and influenced the legendary duo of Django Reinhardt and Stephanne Grappelli, which means they are at the root of a massive genre (gypsy jazz / hot swing).

Venuti was also a legendary practical joker. Every Christmas he sent Wingy Manone, a one-armed trumpet player, the same gift--one cufflink. He once called a couple dozen bass players with an alleged gig and asked them to show up with their instruments at a busy street corner just so he could view the resulting chaos. He always brought cheap violins to his bar-gigs because his favorite thing was to start fights, smash his violin over someone's head, and jump out the window of the bar. He is said to have chewed up a violin he borrowed from bandleader Paul Whiteman, when still on stage after his own performance with Whiteman's band had finished.

Eddie Lang introduced the guitar to a wider audience and forever changed the way that people listened to music. And he was the first Jazz guitar virtuoso. A boyhood friend of Joe Venuti, Lang took violin lessons for 11 years but switched to guitar before he turned professional in 1924 with the Mound City Blue Blowers. He was soon in great demand for recording dates, both in the jazz world and in pop settings. His sophisticated European sounding chord patterns made him a unique accompanist, but he was also a fine soloist. Lang was a versatile player who could back blues singers, play classical music, and jam with the greatest musicians of his day. He was the house guitarist at Okeh from 1926 to 1933. Using the pseudonym of Blind Willie Dunn, Lang often teamed up with Lonnie Johnson and recorded some of the most dazzling guitar duets you'll hear.

Lang died in 1933 as the result of a botched tonsillectomy, which had been taken at the urging of his friend, Bing Crosby. Venuti fell into obscurity in the 1940s and '50s, but was rediscovered in the 60s and made some great albums, some of which will find their way onto this blog eventually... if you have any of his later period albums please let me know. I'd love to hear them.

Eddie Lang & Joe Venuti - Stringing the Blues
Release Date 1963
Recording Date 1927-1933
Label Columbia
Time 96:21

1 Goin' Places - Lang, Venuti - 2:58
2 Doin' Things - Lang, Venuti - 2:52
3 Perfect - Lang, Signorelli - 3:04
4 Cheese and Crackers - Lang, Venuti - 2:59
5 Stringin' the Blues - Lang, Venuti - 2:37
6 I'm Somebody's Somebody Now - Johnson, Sherman, Silver - 3:09
7 Two-Tone Stomp - Johnson, Lang - 3:03
8 Beatin' the Dog - Venuti - 2:41
9 The Wild Dog - Lang, Venuti - 2:45
10 Dinah - Akst, Lewis, Young - 2:51
11 In the Bottle Blues - King Oliver, Lang, Williams - 2:52
12 Wild Cat - Lang, Venuti - 2:59
13 Guitar Blues - Johnson, Lang - 3:21
14 Bull Frog Moan - Johnson, Lang - 3:19
15 Jet Black Blues - Johnson - 3:04
16 Penn Beach Blues - Lang, Venuti - 2:45
17 It's Right Here for You - Bradford - 3:10
18 You Can't Cheat on a Cheater - Dorsey, Napoleon - 2:59
19 Tiger Rag - DaCosta, Edwards, LaRocca ... - 2:52
20 A Handful of Riffs - Johnson, Lang - 3:07
21 Running Ragged - Hayton, Lang, Trumbauer ... - 3:10
22 Pardon Me, Pretty Baby - Klages, Rose - 3:07
23 I'll Never Be the Same - Kahn, Malneck, Signorelli - 3:12
24 I've Found a New Baby - Palmer, Williams - 3:09
25 Little Girl - Henry, Hyde - 3:00
26 I Got Rhythm - Gershwin, Gershwin - 3:15
27 I Wanna Count Sheep (Till the Cows Come Home) - Little, Young - 3:25
28 Church Street Sobbin' Blues - Cowley, Lada, Williams - 3:03
29 Vibraphonia - Rollini - 2:49
30 Hey! Young Fella - Fields, McHugh - 3:07
31 Some of These Days - Brooks - 2:37
32 Raggin' the Scale - Claypoole - 3:00

old rip from vinyl | m4a (aac) 192 | w/cover | 67 & 68mb
get disc 1 and disc 2

more to come someday. post any you have in the comments!


Slabtown said...

Welcome back. I've enjoyed the wide variety of music you've posted. I, too, have very broad tastes.

Is there any chance that you could repost the third part of Spirituals to Swing? The file that's available is faulty.

I hope that you'll continue to enlighten us with your musical offerings.

Anonymous said...

A week ago I rudely asked you for string bands and this is great, and if you post this for me it's even better.

neil said...

Welcome, welcome, welcome back!

Gadaya said...

Here in France, there's a kind of revival for gypsy swing jazz and everybody talks about Django Reinhardt and Grappelli as the creators of this style but nobody heard about Lang and Venuti, as they're really great too...Great post as usual....

B.why said...

Thank you.
Say I wounder maybe you can help me ,their is some thing in the "jazz root" genre I am searching for.
I am trying to find harry reser's banjo soloes, untill now I only heard him with his band but I read
his soloes are more famous.

Anonymous said...

What a sensational post! I still recall back in the 70's seeing an elderly chap on PBS playing a violin with the Boston Pops. Thought I, "He sounds like Joe Venuti. Wonder who he is." Of course, it WAS Joe Venuti! I had not known that this genius still lived. And I never thought of him, I realized with a start, as a real "person" just a pure fiddle! Like fine wine, like Jolson, like Carl Perkins, Venuti got better with age. Thanks for the post - and all the others.

zhao said...

also, by the way, you can convert WMA and many other formats to and from MP3 with SWITCH:

i think it is free but if it isn't you can find the serials pretty easily.

so anyhow WMA's are fine with me, so go ahead and send those rare pipe recordings over :D

and if you can't be arsed with SWITCH i can convert things for you if you like... so long as you keep blogging :)

glauberovsky said...

great! just love eddie lang. wonderful music, wonderful post, pirate.

GLAUBER [brazil]

Anonymous said...

I'm very happy to see that you're still posting. I stumbled upon this blog a while ago, and it quickly rose through my list of favorites. Thanks for another great post.


Anonymous said...

Simply cool

Anonymous said...

Hey buddy, I've found some of Venuti's later recordings on this blog . If you haven't happened to hear those yet, have a nice time!