Click Here To Purchase Les Paul: Live in New York

Musician: Les Paul

ASIN: B003SFKT8M

 

Yes, Les Paul invented the electric guitar and pioneered innovative recording techniques like multi-tracking. He created a number of influential playing styles for the guitar and sold millions of records, especially with his wife Mary Ford. Boiling it all down, for over half a century Les Paul was a master of the magic of music. 

Nowhere was his mastery more evident than his Monday night jam sessions in New York’s Iridium Jazz Club. After the club hosted a 90th birthday bash for Paul in 2005, he presided over these intimate evenings until his death in 2009. He was always accompanied by his very hot trio and any number of guests who showed up to both listen and share the stage with a very generous mentor. And all through the proceedings, a laughing Les Paul was having a conspicuous good time showing off his witty banter as he introduced friends like Keith Richards, Steve Miller, and Jose Feliciano.  

These Mondays are what is captured on this tribute DVD which showcases an era most of us will regret not witnessing first-hand. Songs like Tennessee Waltz” and “Route 66” get lively interpretations while other standards are playfully altered so the singers can get in teasing birthday greetings. The performers are not gunning for perfection, and Paul frequently jokes these songs will never make it to a record. Well, they did, and gratefully so. The playing is astonishing but homey, spontaneous but polished, educational and swinging. Very, very swinging—where country meets blues and jazz with no daylight between them.

The DVD also includes 40 minutes of extra features such as interviews with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Tony Bennett, and Tommy Emmanuel. But the true bonuses take us way back in time, as in the 1951 “How High the Moon” with Paul and wife Mary Ford. Other vintage footage of Paul with Ford are a 1953 Listerine TV show and an appearance on Alistair Cooke’s Omnibus where the couple demonstrates how multi-tracking works. The praise from Paul’s fellow musicians is what you’d expect; it’s when he’s on stage—both early and late in his career—where this release becomes essential.

If this disc has one drawback, it’s how often the talking heads are inserted throughout the concert footage while the music is being performed. Early in the show, the commentary breaks up the flow and robs us of really experiencing the music as the audience did. The reasons for all the talk are obvious, but perhaps grouping the clips  together more frequently and leaving the songs just go from start to finish might have made for a less interruptive evening for new listeners. But if that’s the price we must pay, so be it.

No music library is complete without this tribute, no one can claim to really know music without spending time with Les Paul, and fewer hours can be more enjoyable than hearing and seeing Paul in his element. Yes, he’s a man known for technological innovations. But here, it’s a performer on a small stage with very basic amps, pedals, and congenial comrades simply having a good time. Come on in, we have just the seat for you. It’s real close to the stage—


Click Here To Purchase Les Paul: Live in New York