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Progressions: 100 Years Of Jazz Guitar CD

April 27, 2006 09:46 AM EST | Music | Email to Friend

When Elvis Presley exploded onto the scene in 1956, the guitar experienced a dramatic upsurge in popularity. Eight years later, when the Beatles crashed America's shores like a tidal wave, the deal was sealed: the guitar was at once a ticket to possible instant riches and an omnipresent symbol of youthful rebellion.

But this orchestral instrument was not, of course, born in the mid-1950s and raised in the mid-'60s. Long before "the King" and "the Fab Four," there were great guitarists of all kinds, many of whom influenced the rise of rock 'n' roll. From the U.S., South America, and Europe during the last century came a string of masters who also gave the guitar a prominence it has enjoyed for the past four decades.

Seventy-eight of those guitar giants are included in 100 YEARS OF JAZZ GUITAR, a remarkable 4-CD anthology that not only draws upon the extensive catalogues of Columbia and RCA Records and their subsidiaries, but leases material from about 30 other original labels to yield the absolutely definitive jazz guitar collection ever assembled. The set spans the years 1906 to 2001, from the ragtime banjo of Vess Ossman (originally recorded on an Edison cylinder) to the diaphonous chords of Bill Frisell. In between, virtually every major figure of the jazz guitar weighs in, from Eddie Lang, Django Reinhardt, and Charlie Christian to Les Paul, Tal Farlow, and Wes Montgomery, and right up to Jim Hall, Grant Green, George Benson, Pat Martino, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, and John Scofield (one of the producers of this set).

And the package's artistic focus is not strictly limited to pure jazz players, as witness the presence of a variegated group of important improvisers like Hawaiian string kings Roy Smeck and Sol Hoopi, Western Swing aces Leon McAuliffe and Eldon Shamblin, and the brilliant Brazilians, Laurindo Almeida, Joao Gilberto (the godfather of Bossa Nova) and Toninho Horta. One also encounters country-jazz innovator Hank Garland, rock 'n' blues titans Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, and Jeff Beck, progressive rock icon Allan Holdsworth, fusion meisters Larry Carlton, Al DiMeola, and Mike Stern, and avant-garde pace-setters Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock, James "Blood" Ulmer, and Marc Ribot.

In addition, the box contains a generous book filled with photographs of each of the principles heard herein, an authoritative overview essay by British guitar scholar Charles Alexander, old guitar ads, photos of the many classic guitar models and amps, solo transcriptions and technical analysis, testimonials from guitar legends, and precise discographical data. Clearly, 100 YEARS OF JAZZ GUITAR is the set to get if one is even remotely interested in the history and development of guitar over the course of the past century. Guitar starts here!

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