The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

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

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The Guitar                                                                             . _
Mastren of the old Tommy Dorsey band, still a capable chord-style soloxst; in the multi-faceted Bobby Sherwood, now better known as a television comedian, who once played swinging tmitar m front of a big band; in Johnny Smith, a favorite wilh young jazz fans, though his biggest hits have been innocuous anodyne treatments of ballads such as Moonlight in Vermont played with httje rhythmic variation from the melody; in Lou Mecca, whose Ballade for Guitar with Gil Melle on Blue Note showed skill and sensitivity; and in the startling Bill Harris, who scorned both amplifier and plectrum in a series of unaccompanied solos on an EmArcy LP, reminding us that the original singing quality of the guitar can be regained by a return to the more complete use of its natural resources.
Many of the younger guitarists have tended to veer away from the crisp eighth-note sounds of Christian by turning down the high frequencies in the tone control on their amplifiers lending the instrument a softer quality, more muffled tone and legato style. This sound has been favored by the gifted Jimmy Raney, who also is a composer of merit; and by a succession of excellent guitansts in the George Shearing Quintet-Chuck Wayne Dick Garcia and the Belgian-born Jean "Toots" Thielemans. '
The guitar today can claim dozens of other adroit exponents, most of whom perform in small combos functioning triply as rhythm and solo instruments and as voices along with the other horns. The use of the guitar in the big band has fallen almost into desuetude. Herman, Ellington and Gillespie have none; many other name bands similarly find piano, bass and drums adequate for rhythm purposes, ignoring the immensely increased opporĀ­tunities and flexibility inherent in present-day guitar styled and techniques.
Stan Kenton's is the only important jazz orchestra that has continued to use a guitar in both sectional and solo functions during the past decade. An innovation introduced in the Kenton band in 1947 was the incorporation, in a jazz setting, of an un-amplified Spanish concert guitar, played "finger style" (without a plectrum or pick) by the Brazilian soloist Laurinda Almeida. Though not a. jazz musician, Almeida helped to bring back to the