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Bucky Pizzarelli's April Kisses opens a door to a musical era when the jazz guitar was a solo and duet instrument of lively refinement. This is the pre-electric, pre-Charlie Christian era of Eddie Lang, Carl Kress, Django Reinhardt, and George Van Eps. Pizzarelli follows Van Eps' innovation of adding a bass string to his guitar which enriches the self-accompaniment possibilities of the instrument. This 7th string helps to create a delicately swinging acoustic guitar sound as distinctive as Spanish guitar, and as soulful. The wide emotional dialog extends from the pleading heartbreak of Django Reinhardt's "Tears" to Pizzarelli's own upbeat "Stompin' for Boz."
The guitarist Carl Kress is responsible for seven of the compositions on this disc while Eddie Lang wrote the title track "April Kisses." It should be noted that Kress and Lang recorded as a duet in the early 1930s, and both guitarists recorded at various times with Benny Goodman. Lang is also known for his work with the jazz violinist Joe Venuti, and for his duets with the blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson. This rich, multi-faceted heritage is all a part of this very American music as interpreted by Pizzarelli.
April Kisses is a loving tribute that brings alive an often forgotten era of jazz history and extends this rich heritage into the present. Bucky Pizzarelli is a magnificent guide into this world, a world that slowly draws the listener into the myriad shadings and voices of acoustic jazz guitar. Highly recommended.
Tracks:Helena; April Kisses; Afterthoughts, Part 1; Afterthoughts, Part 2; Afterthoughts, Part 3; The End of a Love Affair; Slow Burning; Tears; Love Song; It Must Be True; Indy Annie; Sutton Mutton; Come Sunday; Squattin' at the Grotto; Please; Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; Slamerino; Peg Leg Shuffle; Stompin' for Boz; Silk City Blues. (51:37)
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.