The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
The Guitar
and single-string solos and deep-bred awareness of the blues.
Django Reinhardt, a Belgian-born gypsy, burst on the scene with the formation in 1934 of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France (violin, three guitars and bass), whose string-heavy sounds, novel and unprecedented though they were, seem in retrospect to suffer from much of the spring-like swing of an over-thick carpet. Bernhardt's gypsy background was reflected in tihe capricious style, the sudden explosive use of passages in octaves, of flurries of too many notes too soon; very rarely did he manage to swing with complete ease. Yet he was the first foreign musician to have a profound influence in the United States; Les Paul and others listened to his records and copied his style. He visited the U.S. in 1946, toured not too successfully with Duke Ellington, playing electric guitar with the air of one who had to keep up with the times, but the supple tone that had lent his work much of its charm for many listeners was coarsened as a result. Rein­hardt, who died in 1953, left a bulky legacy of recordings, of which those taken at an easy ballad tempo seem the most viable.
Some observers in Paris in the late 1930s felt that a contempo­rary named Oscar Aleman could outswing Reinhardt and was a far superior jazzman, but the French spotlight was not large enough to accommodate two guitarists. Aleman, who made few records, was last heard of in Argentina.
Allan Reuss, with Benny Goodman, showed that tbe big swing bands had an important place for the rhythm guitarist. In general, however, the swing era was a period of transition for the guitar in jazz. As the spotlight concentrated more and more on large and generally vociferous orchestras in which the strumming of the plectrist was as effectual as a swimmer battling a tidal wave, there were a few tentative attempts to solve the problem of in­audibility. One of these was a tin resonator, which helped to amplify in some small degree the guitar s limited sounds.
One of the first musicians to use the resonator, later the first also to use the electric guitar, was Eddie Durham, the trombonist in Jimmie Lunceford's band who made a hobby of doubling on guitar. Durham was featured on the Lunceford record of Hittirt the Bottle m September 1935, probably the first recorded example of any form of guitar amplification. "Lunceford was crazy about