On October 9, 1929, Blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson…
…and Jazz guitarist Eddie Lang…
…got together again in the New York City recording studios of OKeh Records to record what would prove to be the final four of their groundbreaking and still-dazzling collection of guitar duets.
The duo had previously recorded and released six duets:
- “Two Tone Stomp” & “Have To Change Keys (To Play These Blues)” – recorded on November 17, 1928.
- “Guitar Blues” – recorded on May 7, 1929.
- “A Handful Of Riffs” & “Blue Guitars” – recorded on May 8, 1929.
- “Bull Frog Moan” – recorded on May 15, 1929.
(You can read about Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang and listen to those wonderful recordings in my This Historic Day In Music posts in the Archives from November 2017 and May 2018.)
On that October Wednesday in 1929, Lonnie and Eddie got to “jiving” – as Lonnie Johnson later described just what he and Eddie did in these sessions – with an original number called “Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp.”
JTLYK: According to The Harvard Dictionary of Music, “stomp” is “A term found in Jazz titles of the 1920s and 1930s connoting fast dance music with a strong beat.”
“Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp” might not be “fast,” but Eddie Lang’s rhythm guitar accompaniment definitely drives its 16-bar chord progression with a strong and very danceable beat. What a perfect backdrop for Lonnie Johnson to spin eight choruses of magical 12-string guitar solos over!
Listen for yourself.
“Midnight Call Blues” features a not-too-fast, not-too-slow tempo and a smooth and swinging rhythm. The duo plays an eight-bar intro before settling into a 12-bar blues progression at the .18 mark. Lonnie takes the first solo and then (at .46) Eddie takes the role of lead guitarist and solos over two, 12-bar choruses! Lonnie takes the lead again (at 1.47) and solos soulfully through to the end.
Check it out!
“Hot Fingers” is hotter than hot. As great as “Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp” and “Midnight Call Blues” are, it seems that Lonnie and Eddie might have just been warming up for this number. These two totally tear the cover off the ball with this out-of-the-park home run blast: a 16-bar “stomp”-style intro followed by 14 blazing choruses of 12-bar Blues in the key of D. Lonnie’s solos and Eddie’s accompaniment are equally brilliant throughout.
Give a listen.
Last but certainly not least, “Blue Room Blues” is appropriately different from its nine siblings. First of all, it is not a Blues! (It is built on a 16-bar chord progression like “Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp.”) It is also the slowest of the ten duets (Did “Hot Fingers” tire them out?) and the only one in which Eddie Lang takes the opening solo! Then, like any good closing number, it leaves the listener wanting, wishing, for more.
Here you go.
“Hot Fingers” b/w “Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp” was released on OKeh Records, #8743.
“Midnight Call Blues” b/w “Blue Room Blues” was released on OKeh Records, #8818.
The artist’s credit line on both recordings reads: Lonnie Johnson & Blind Willie Dunn.