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Doug Raney: Phantom Guitarist


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When talk turns to the finest guitarists of the post-war years, Jimmy Raney often is overlooked. So is his son, Doug. Jimmy Raney was born in Louisville, Ky., in 1927, and watched his mother play guitar in the 1930s. Raney studied with guitarist Hayden Causey, eventually replacing him in Jerry Wald's band, where he made his first recordings in 1944. In Chicago he worked with pianist Lou Levy and then joined Woody Herman in 1948. 

After leaving Herman's orchestra in 1949, Jimmy played with Al Haig, Buddy DeFranco and Artie Shaw. Everything changed, however, when he joined the Stan Getz Quintet in 1951. The group's popularity soared, especially when a number of important albums by the quintet were recorded and released by producer Norman Granz. In the 1950s, Raney recorded with Red Norvo, Les Elgart and Jimmy Lyon. In the '60s, he worked as a studio musician before returning to Louisville in 1968. He played and recorded with his son Doug in the 1980s. Raney died in 1995.

Which brings me to Doug Raney. Born in 1956, Doug is all but unknown today in the States. He began as a rock guitarist as a teen but quickly shifted to jazz, recording first with his father and Al Haig in 1975. He played and recorded with his father as a duet in the late 1970s before moving to Copenhagen in the 1980s. He apparently made the move after touring there with his father. Today he rarely, if ever, returns to the States. Which is a shame considering how superb a jazz player he is.

Doug's duets with his father are exceptionally beautiful. They include Stolen Moments, Raney '81, Nardis and Duets. Pianist Jon Raney, Jimmy's other son, born in 1961, hosts The Jimmy Raney Legacy site here. I have no idea if Jon is based in the States.

Here are a series of videos with Doug that will illustrate just how good he was and is. Combined, they are from a fabulous Danish TV show in 1985 that also featured local guitarist Thorgeir Stubo. The subject was great jazz guitarists...

Part 1 on Charlie Christian...

Part 2 on Wes Montgomery...

Part 3 on Tal Farlow...

Part 4 on Jim Hall...

Part 5 on George Benson and Pat Martino...

Continue Reading...

This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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