It's virtually impossible to imagine modern music without the contributions of Les Paul. Not only was he a brilliant jazz guitarist with no fear of pop or country, he literally laid the framework for how a good electric guitar should be made when he designed his famous Les Paul model for Gibson Guitars. Add in the fact that he single-handedly invented multi-track recording with the release of "Lover" in 1948, and his influence is pervasive, if not always acknowledged, even in today's 21st century hip-hop world. This delightful collection brings together rare 16" radio transcription discs Paul did in 1944 and 1945, shortly after he was discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces. Although billed as a trio, the band here is really a quartet, with Paul on lead guitar, Cal Gooden, Jr. on rhythm guitar, Clint Nordquist on upright bass, and probably Bob Armstrong on piano (Paul used several piano players during this time period, but Armstrong is the most likely candidate for these sessions). The music is smooth and elegant swing, featuring delightfully unexpected stops, starts, and redirects, all tempered by Paul's liquid guitar lines, full of brilliant sustained notes. Highlights include a cover of Isham Jones' 1923 hit "Who's Sorry Now" (which became an even bigger hit for Connie Francis in 1958), an expansive version of Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love," and an elegant take on Hoagy Carmichael's "Lazy River." The real treats, though, are the three tracks that close the disc, featuring Paul's band plus vocals from the sultry Kay Starr and the violin playing of the great Joe Venuti. Smooth and fresh as rainwater running off a leaf, the transcriptions that make up Crazy Rhythm don't sound dated at all, and the sound is clear as a bell. Paul's most innovative and representative recordings were still in the future when these sessions were held, but the joyful elegance in his playing was already well established.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett