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Eddie Lang (1902-1933)

Eddie Lang (1902-1933)Eddie Lang 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. He often played with violinist Venuti and with Red Nichols’s Five Pennies , Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke (most memorably on the song “Singin’ the Blues“).

Eddie-Lang-mural
On Sunday October 23, 2016, the city of Philadelphia celebrated jazz guitar pioneer Eddie Lang (born Salvatore Massaro) with a mural located at 7th and Fitzwater Streets in Philly, not far from Lang’s boyhood home on St. Alban Street. The 60-foot mural, by artist Jared Bader, was created and installed through a partnership between the Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia (founded by Jane Golden) and Richard Barnes, guitarist and leader of The Blackbird Society Orchestra of Philadelphia. The mural features Lang in the foreground of an imagined Okeh recording studio with fellow recording artists Joe Venuti, Bix Beiderbecke, Bing Crosby, Lonnie Johnson, Louis Armstrong, and Bessie Smith, among others.

He played in many orchestras including Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra , Jean Goldkette and with Paul Whiteman (appearing on one short number with Venuti in Whiteman’s 1930 film “King Of Jazz“).

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 Blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson.

Eddie Lang led several dates of his own between 1927 and 1929, including an interesting session with King Oliver and Johnson, under the name of Blind Willie Dunn and his Gin Bottle Four.

He worked regularly with Bing Crosby during the early 1930s and appears briefly with him in the film “The Big Broadcast”. Tragically his premature death was caused by a poorly performed operation, where he lost too much blood during a routine tonsillectomy.

Bing was deeply disturbed by Lang’s death, not only because he suddenly lost one of his best friends and most talented sidemen, but because he had personally urged Lang to have the operation.

Also See: Eddie Lang: Profiles in Jazz

Eddie Lang (1902-1933)

Blind Willie Dunn and his Gin Bottle Four Blind Willie Dunn and Lonnie Johnson
Ed Lang and his Orchestra Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang
Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang and their All-Star Orchestra

 

Eddie Lang (1902-1933)

Title Recording Date Recording Location Company
Add A Little Wiggle
(from “Rise Or Shine”)
With Piano by Frank Signorelli

(Milton Ager)
3-29-1928 New York, New York Okeh
41134
A Little Love, A Little Kiss
(Silesu)
5-28-1927 New York, New York Okeh
40989
April Kisses
(Eddie Lang)
4-1-1927 New York, New York Okeh
40807
Eddie’s Twister
(Eddie Lang)
4-1-1927 New York, New York Okeh
40807
Feelin’ My Way
(Eddie Lang / Carl Kress)
2-17-1932 New York, New York Brunswick
6254
I’ll Never Be The Same
(Matty Malneck / Frank Signorelli / Gus Kahn)
9-27-1928 New York, New York Parlophone
R-1778
Jannine I Dream Of Lilac Time
With Piano by Frank Signorelli

(Gilbert / Skilkret)
9-27-1928 New York, New York Okeh
41134

401158-A
Jannine I Dream Of Lilac Time
With Piano by Frank Signorelli

(Gilbert / Skilkret)
9-27-1928 New York, New York Okeh
41134

401158-C
Melody Man’s Dream
(Eddie Lang / Frank Signorelli)
10-21-1927 New York, New York Okeh
40936
Perfect
(Eddie Lang / Frank Signorelli)
10-21-1927 New York, New York Okeh
40936
Pickin’ My Way
(Eddie Lang / Carl Kress)
2-15-1932 New York, New York Brunswick
6254
Prelude (Opus 3, no. 2)
(Rachmaninoff)
5-28-1927 New York, New York Okeh
40989
Rainbow Dreams
(Eddie Lang)
3-29-1928 New York, New York Parlophone
R-2646

Eddie Lang (1902-1933)

Artist Instrument
Rube Bloom Piano
Carl Kress Guitar
Arthur Schutt Piano
Frank Signorelli Piano

Eddie Lang (1902-1933)

Title Director Year
Segar Ellis and His Embassy Club Orchestra 1929
King Of Jazz John Murray Anderson 1930
Big Broadcast Frank Tuttle 1932

Eddie Lang (1902-1933)

The Quintessential Eddie Lang 1925 – 1932 by Sally-Ann Worsfold, Timeless Records, 1997
Jazz Guitar: An Anthology, by Edited by James Sallis, Quill Publishers, 1984

 

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