Texas Stomp 1934-1944

Hugh & Karl Farr

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Texas Stomp 1934-1944 Review

by Bruce Eder

Even though a lot of the material here is jazzier than anything the Sons of the Pioneers ever did, no Pioneers collection can be considered complete without this 26-track CD. Not only is there work here by Hugh and Karl Farr together, but also Hugh playing guitar/fiddle duets with Leonard Slye (aka Roy Rogers) -- who proved an able jazz-style guitarist -- in 1934, and playing with Slye and Bob Nolan in 1935, and the two Farrs (with Karl on electric guitar) playing with fellow Pioneers Lloyd Perryman and Shug Fisher in 1940. The stuff shows off the Farr brothers' debt to jazz (especially Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti) and blues as well as country influences. As part of the Pioneers' contract with Decca Records, the group recorded for the label's radio transcription service -- this music was licensed directly to radio stations for use over the air and was intended to fit into specific timings. Hugh and Karl were separated off from the Pioneers and billed as the Cornhuskers, and they made hundreds of instrumental transcription discs. Still later, they made discs for NBC radio's Thesaurus Electronic Transcription service. Hugh Farr's violin is a spellbinding and humbling thing to hear, while Karl plays like Charlie Christian crossed with Chet Atkins, especially on the dozen electric sides included here. Even subsumed into the identity of the Pioneers, Hugh was one of the most acclaimed violinists of his era among his fellow musicians (once compared to Fritz Kreisler), and Karl was one of the most respected guitarists -- this disc shows how fine they were even when they weren't playing for posterity, just a paycheck. There's some surface noise on the tracks off of the 78-rpm radio-transcription discs, but it is never obtrusive, and the session information is a nice bonus. (Interstate Music Ltd., P.O. Box 74, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 OLX, England)

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