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Carl Kress (October 20, 1907 – June 10, 1965), along with Eddie Lang, can be considered THE founding father of jazz guitar. While Lang pioneered the use of single-string horn inspired lines, Carl’s method was that of chord soloing. Carl got his start as banjoist for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1926, which also featured Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer. In 1927 Kress entered the studio accompanied by Bix and Trumbauer and recorded some sides as the Chicago Loopers. From 1927-1929 Kress could be found in the bands of Tommy and Jimmy DorseyMiff Mole and Red Nichols.

Carl Kress
Carl Kress, June 1947 (Gottlieb)

In the 1930’s Kress had switched over to the guitar and beginning in 1932 recorded some of the finest duets in jazz guitar history with Eddie Lang and again in 1934 with Dick McDonough. Soon Kress became known for his second contribution to jazz by being part owner of the famed ONYX club on 52nd Street.

Throughout the 30’s and 40’s Kress maintained a somewhat low profile by playing in and around New York City as a radio and studio guitarist, and in the 1950’s could be seen as the guitarist for the Garry Moore television show. In the early 1960’s Kress joined forces with Chicago guitarist George Barnes for a series of duet albums and he died on tour with Barnes after suffering a fatal heart attack in 1964. —by Ted Gottsegen

band or session leader

Carl Kress and Dick McdonoughCarl Kress and Tony Mottola

TitleRecording DateRecording LocationCompany
Afterthoughts (Part 1)
(Carl Kress)
11-28-1938New York, New YorkDecca
23136 A
Afterthoughts (Part 2 & 3)
(Carl Kress)
11-28-1938New York, New YorkDecca
23136 B
(Carl Kress)
6-9-1939New York, New YorkDecca
23138 A
Love Song7-26-1939New York, New YorkDecca
Peg Leg Shuffle2-13-1939New York, New YorkDecca
Sutton Mutton
(Carl Kress)
8-8-1939New York, New YorkDecca
23138 B


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