[78-L] Reuss was Etri was Christian

warren moorman wlmoorman3 at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 21 13:37:24 PST 2013

If I may join this discusssion, Eugene Hayhoe mentioned Leonard Ware, and it should be stressed that he was another whose fluent electric playing was in place well before exposure to Christian. He's also proof that the electric guitar was a more widespread development than the "southwestern school" emphasis of many narratives. George Barnes's the best proof of that, but Gibson having brought to market an electric model in '36 indicates how awareness of the instrument was already in the air by then. In that regard the electric guitar's a good example of how recordings are an imperfect denominator of history. Ever heard of Warren Clayton? He was being featured on electric guitar with Jack Wardlaw's very popular southeastern band by early 1938, but unrecorded, he's seldom included in tallies of early electric players. 
That Ware's often overlooked may be partly a result of his having been Hammond's recommendation as an electric guitarist to Goodman before Christian, which Goodman wasn't ready to accept, along with Ware's relatively small recorded legacy. On that point, let's take note that the 75th anniversary of the first Spirituals to Swing Concert is this Monday (Dec. 23, 1938). Virtually erased from the history of the show, Leonard Ware played electric guitar at the concert, not Eddie Durham as is usually, mistakenly, given. Ware's appearance is documented on a cd released in 2000 by Vanguard, whose compilers confirmed Ware's appearance from Hammond's notes and other research. Ware's solo on "After You've Gone", included on the cd, shows that he was a quite adept electric player already, and it clearly matches Ware's other recorded work, recognizably different from Durham's style. He'd already recorded on electric a month earlier (11/16/38) with
 Sidney Bechet, whose piano-less band he played in at Nick's at the time. Further proof of Ware's pre-Christian skill on electric was captured on a Camel Caravan aircheck a month after the Carnegie concert (Jan. 10, 1939), issued on a Collector's Choice cd. (George Rose, another electric player Goodman tried in 1939 before Christian joined in September, also has several decent solos on the same cd).
Ware, who recorded with some significant figures in the '40's but mostly just stuck to live gigging, was in the late '30's an electric guitar inspiration to other early Harlem guitarists. I would mention William Lewis, who recorded a scorching electric solo on a Sam Price Decca side, "Blow Katy Blow", in early 1942, but aside from some airchecks with Benny Carter's band a few years later, Lewis' talent is completely lost to history.
In any case, the imminent 75th anniversary of the Spirituals To Swing concert ought to be noteworthy, as it not only kicked off American musical "roots" awareness, spurred the launch of Blue Note Records and Cafe Society, and brought a strong back beat into popular music prominence via the boogie woogie craze, but was perhaps the earliest appearance of an electric guitarist in such a visible showcase, thanks to Leonard Ware.
BTW, here's a link to one of the notices about Warren Clayton, the early white swing band electric guitarist:
Cheers 78l,
Warren Moorman

On Wednesday, December 18, 2013 1:52 PM, Julian Vein <julianvein at blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
On 18/12/13 18:30, Joe Scott wrote:
> There's a nice Harry James CD on Jasmine called Meadowbrook Memories, two '44 shows. Unfortunately the two low points of the CD are Reuss trying to play "Steel Guitar Rag," imo. By '44 the field was crowded with very good lead electric guitarists such as Chuck Wayne, T-Bone Walker, Les Paul, Oscar Moore, Barney Kessel, Al Casey, Jimmy Wyble, Remo Palmieri, Teddy Walters, and Tiny Grimes.
> Joseph Scott
I was playing them this afternoon. I agree, Reuss seems to be going 
through the motions. Incidentally, the later version seems to have a 
superior arrangement. On the first one James seems to be thrashing out 
in all directions.

Other fine electric guitarists of the period were Arv Garrison, Jimmy 
Shirley and Irving Ashby.

      Julian Vein
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