In the late 1920’s, Blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson and Jazz guitarist Eddie Lang recorded ten landmark duets.
Lonnie and Eddie recorded their first two duets – “Two Tone Stomp” and “Have To Change Keys (To Play These Blues)” – on November 17, 1928 in the recording studios of OKeh Records at 11 Union Square in New York City.
(You can learn about Lonnie and Eddie, how that first recording session came about, the guitars they played and even listen to those duets in my This Historic Day In Music post of November 17, 2017!)
“Guitar Blues” was the title of Lonnie and Eddie’s third duet. They recorded it on May 7, 1929 in the same OKeh Records studio in New York.
Eddie plays the brief introduction to “Guitar Blues” and then provides back-up to Lonnie’s 12-string lead guitar solos. At 1:06, after four 12-bar choruses, Lonnie seamlessly slips into the role of accompanist while Eddie solos on his six-string archtop twice through the form. At 1:38, the guitarists switch places again and Lonnie takes the lead for the remaining six choruses.
In The Guitar Players: One Instrument & Its Masters In American Music (1982), author James Sallis writes “These duets are infectious, provocative music, as fresh and vigorous today as when they were recorded.”
I completely agree.
Listen for yourself.
“Guitar Blues” b/w “Blue Guitars” was released on OKeh Records, #8711. The artist’s credit line on the label reads: Lonnie Johnson & Blind Willie Dunn.
If you enjoyed “Guitar Blues,” stay tuned!