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Billy Bauer

Billy Bauer (1915 - 2005) was already an established professional guitarist in New York when players like Johnny Smith and Jimmy Raney arrived on the scene. He played with the Jerry Wald band before joining Woody Herman in 1944 as a member of the 1st Herd. And in 1946 he played with Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden.

Billy Bauer established and distinguished himself as a solid rhythm player with these bands but it was in the small groups that emerged from these bands, lead by Chubby Jackson, Bill Harris and Lennie Tristano, that Billy Bauer established himself as a significant soloist in the evolving bebop movement. Billy Bauer's solo work with these groups has been sited as some of the best examples of early bebop guitar. But, more significantly, his solo work has been sited as some of the most progressive playing for any era. His work with Lennie Tristano in the mid 1940's certainly represented some of the most progressive guitar playing up to that time.

The trio and duet recordings Bauer made with Tristano around 1945 are especially interesting. Tristano and Bauer enjoyed a natural synergy in style and approach to their music. Tristano's intricate arrangements were a perfect match for Bauer's guitar. These examples demonstrated that Bauer was not just a good guitarist, but also an outstanding musician. His unison playing with Tristano was precise, and his accompaniment to Tristano's piano represented some of the best and earliest examples of great guitar comping.

Billy Bauer continued his pioneering guitar work with Lee Konitz in the 1950's and 1960's. As with Lennie Tristano, Bauer found a kindred musical spirit in Konitz. Konitz's avant-garde saxophone work was a perfect match for Bauer's advanced guitar. On the recording Lee Konitz especially, the two musicians demonstrated a unique musical dialogue across a range of styles from bop and cool to the avant-garde. Duet For Saxophone and Guitar, was an unusual instrument paring, that really allowed Bauer Source: Classic Jazz Guitar


Extended Analysis

Lennie Tristano Personal Recordings, 1946-1970

Read "Lennie Tristano Personal Recordings, 1946-1970" reviewed by Peter Rubie

They called it the Cool School, but what's in a name?In this case, quite a lot as it happens. The Cool School included musicians like Chet Baker, John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Dave Brubeck. Under the guidance of arranger and composer Gil Evans, it established itself in an unquestionable way with the release of Miles Davis' album Birth of the Cool (Capitol Records) in 1957, though the music had actually been recorded some eight or ...

Album Review

Billy Bauer: Plectrist

Read "Plectrist" reviewed by David Adler

Billy Bauer never gained much prominence following his stint with Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, and Warne Marsh in the late 40s and early 50s. In the ensuing decades the guitarist made his living as a studio player and teacher. His studio career ended long ago, but he still teaches to this day. Plectrist, released in 1956 on Norman Granz’s Norgran label and reissued by Verve, is Bauer’s sole outing as a leader. With 11 previously released tracks and ...

Album Review

Billy Bauer (: Billy Bauer, Plectrist

Read "Billy Bauer, Plectrist" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

Well, the premise of Verve’s Elite Edition series is to uncover esoteric and obscure gems that will have a limited appeal. This means that some albums many of us thought would never again see the light of day have made it to CD after all. But with Billy Bauer’s The Plectrist, Verve has gone off the chart with a highly desirable collectors items that demands the attention of anyone even remotely interested in jazz guitar. In its original incarnation you’re ...

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Jazz guitarist Billy Bauer dead at 89

Jazz guitarist Billy Bauer dead at 89

Source: All About Jazz

MELVILLE, N.Y.- Billy Bauer, a jazz guitarist who worked with Lennie Tristano, Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker, has died in Melville. He was 89.

Bauer, who lived in Albertson, N.Y., died Friday of complications from pneumonia, said his daughter, Pamela.

He developed much of his solo technique while playing with Tristano's group, which he joined in 1946. Before that, he had played mostly rhythm parts.

Bauer recorded both with the band and with individual members, such as saxophonists Lee Konitz ...


Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Lennie Tristano...

Mosaic Records



Verve Music Group





Billy Bauer, Plectrist

Verve Music Group



Verve Music Group



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