This delightful set collects the earliest sides released by jazz guitarist Eddie Lang under his own name (or as Blind Willie Dunn, but more on that in a moment), which means it doesn't include any of his famous duets with fellow guitarist Lonnie Johnson, since all of those were officially released under Johnson's name. Lang does play with Johnson here on two tracks, though, under the name Blind Willie Dunn as part of the Gin Bottle Four (which also included pianist J.C. Johnson and horn man King Oliver), and his two striking duets with guitarist Carl Kress ("Pickin' My Way" and "Feeling My Way") are also here…
As one-third of the composer-collective Bang on a Can, David Lang is something of a genial father figure of the indie-classical scene. Talk to any of the world's main players and you're likely to hear them tell you about their life-changing stint in Bang on a Can's summer festival, which has acted as a sort of feeder school and incubator for the group's try-anything mentality. Lang's music has undergone many stylistic shifts over the years: In the 80s, he wrote bristlier stuff, but in the last decade or so, he's shifted quietly into a more pensive register. The Little Match Girl Passion, his 2008 work that won him a Pulitzer, was written for only four voices and some hand bells. This Was Written By Hand, his most recent recording, is a collection of short solo piano works played by the British pianist Andrew Zolinsky. The album holds the same, sustained melancholy mood: thoughtful, searching, elegiac, minimalist. Lang's way with repetitive phrasing doesn't feel like that of minimalists like Glass or Reich's, though.
Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang cut different figures. Joe was combative, a joker and man about town. Eddie was quiet, considerate and careful with money. They were born in Philadephia - Eddie in 1902, Joe in 1903 - to Italian immigrant parents. Both studied the violin. Their partnership began in their mid teens when Eddie joined Joe's newly-formed band as a guitarist. Soon they were performing as a duo. Eddie made the early running. In 1919 he joined Charlie Kerr's Orchestra as a violinist, switching to banjo.
The leader of this unique instrumental trio is the Swiss composer and pianist Thierry Lang, age 56. He has been playing piano since 5 and at 7 he decided to dedicate his life to music. When studying classic (up to 21) at 15 Thierry heard Bill Evans whose work became for Thierry a model of synthesis of jazz and classical music. He finally fell in love with jazz after he heard music of Erroll Garner and Oscar Peterson.