Half Notes: Buddy Emmons – Steel Guitar Jazz (1963)

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A jazz quartet plus steel guitar as lead instrument. This might sound like a novelty record but instead it’s Emmons playing his heart out on a program of standards and originals (the opening “Bluemmons” is killer). Very cool to hear the steel guitar trading fours with the sax. The unison playing on Sonny Rollins “Oleo” is just nuts. A bonus with stuff of this vintage this is the old record sleeve: One side contains a bunch of ads for artists of the day: Brook Benton, Smothers Brothers, Lesley Gore, Johnny Mathis, Mitchel Trio and Sarah Vaughn. The other side has three ads for various portable Mercury record players. Yep, mono and stereo phonographs, some of which ran on flashlight batteries. Precursors to the iPod? Sort of. Anyway, the ad copy is great: “Mercury Full Throated Fully Transistorized Portable Phonographs.” Oooh, fully throated!

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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