When one thinks of the great pre-bop guitarists of the 1930s and '40s, the names that come to mind are Eddie Lang, Carl Kress, Dick McDonough, Django Reinhardt, and Charlie Christian along with just a few others. One would normally not think of such obscure guitarists as Albert Harris, Ivor Mairants, Bobby Sherwood (better known as a trumpet-playing bandleader), George M. Smith, or Frank Victor, but these rare recordings show that those players deserve to be remembered too. Harris is heard in guitar duets with Bert Thomas (a previously unreleased "Cat Calls") and Mairants while Mairants is joined by Gerald's Swing Orchestra on two numbers including a tribute to Charlie Christian called "In Charlie's Footsteps." While Harris and Mairants are British, the other recordings are by Americans. The sweet-toned studio violinist Harry Bluestone interacts with Sherwood on two numbers (including "Kiddin' on the Strings"), studio and movie guitarist George M. Smith performs six numbers with a string quartet, bass, and drums that might be borderline to jazz (there is not much improvising) but hold one's interest, and the guitar duo of Frank Victor and Harry Volpe plays six worthy duets. Throughout these dates, one is struck by the strong influence that Kress and McDonough (and to a lesser extent Lang) had on these players, greater than that of Reinhardt. Fans of acoustic jazz guitarists, swing, and obscure gems will want this CD and its follow-up volume.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow