[Dixielandjazz] Les Paul's Birthday Bash at JVC Jazz Festival

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 21 08:14:23 PDT 2005

JVC Jazz Festival Review | Les Paul

Celebrating a Birthday on His Terms

By BEN RATLIFF June 21, 2005 New York Times

Les Paul, who just turned 90, had a giant birthday celebration at Carnegie
Hall on Sunday night. Onstage to play guitar with his trio and some guests
for the evening's second set, he was a perfect guest of honor: dismissive of
excessive praise, entertainingly rude and ready to play.

The point of the evening - called "All for Paul," and part of the JVC Jazz
Festival - was that whatever you do, Les Paul got there a long time ago. He
invented multitracking and the first solid-body guitars. He played at the
first "Jazz at the Philharmonic" concert, absorbed Django Reinhardt as a
contemporary, and made more than 40 hit records. He had his own popular
television show, with his wife, Mary Ford.

At one point, the young guitarist Derek Trucks emerged. He had a Gibson SG
and a bottleneck slide, and showed the slide to Mr. Paul. "Oh, yeah," said
the older man, flashing on 60 years ago. "I used one of those things when I
used to play with Floyd Smith in Harlem." Together they played a duet on
"Goodnight Irene," with Mr. Trucks using the slide to make the whole song a
delicate, expressive cry.

Earlier, getting an eyeful of the singer Madeleine Peyroux, Mr. Paul
brightened. "Well, what's your name?" he asked, sweetly. They played "It's
Been a Long, Long Time," a song he recorded with Bing Crosby in 1945. Mr.
Paul regaled her for a little while. The best part about making that record,
he went on, was that two weeks later it became a hit around the world. The
worst part was that he made only $200.

Mr. Paul showed some of the weird, striking soloing technique that made him
famous. In "Brazil," he let individual notes and harmonics linger in the
air, and played dry, slashing chords between downbeats. In "Over the
Rainbow," he thunked a metallic low note and then picked out the melody on
the high E string, wobbling it with a tremolo bar.

He showed some of his humor, too. During a duet with Bucky Pizzarelli, he
blew his nose during Mr. Pizzarelli's delicate guitar solo, and offered him
the used handkerchief. "I'll autograph it for you," he offered.

As for the first half, over all the vibe was mid-period, white-elephant
FM-rock, by Les Paul-players there to shred for the master. Peter Frampton,
who still plays honestly and well, performed Atlanta Rhythm Section's "So
Into You"; Steve Lukather combined the techniques of Jimi Hendrix and Eddie
Van Halen; Edgar Winter, alternating between a mustard-colored piano and an
alto saxophone, played Rick Derringer's "Rock 'n' Roll, Hoochie Koo"; and
Joe Satriani and Stanley Clarke both soloed by tapping the neck of their
guitars with both hands.

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list