Remembering Les Paul
August 13, 2009. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Les Paul died today. He was 94. In 2005, I was hired to make a documentary about a century of jazz guitar. The resulting work was called Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar. My partner at Joyride Media, Paul Chuffo, and I were running wild getting interviews with George Benson, Jim Hall, John Scofield, and jazz writer Bill Milkowski, a really knowledgeable source for all things related to jazz guitar.
As we were trying to decide who could possibly host our special, there was really only one person who had the authority and the cache. The Wizard of Waukesha - Les Paul. I recorded Les Paul's narration at Iridium, where he performed every Monday night for many years. The best parts of the show are when Les simply embellished the script with his own asides. Like when he said, "I played with Django Reinhardt, and I can tell you he was one of the best I've ever heard." This coming from a man who was 90. When people tell me things like this, I remember. Anyway, I thought I'd share the documentary, if you'd like to take a stroll through the history of jazz guitar with one of the great innovators in guitar music and recording. There are many reasons why Les Paul mattered. He invented the solid body guitar, for one. He was the first person to multi-track individual instruments for a recording, which is something we do every time we record musicians for WBGO.
Les Paul - 94 years well lived. Thank you.
© 2009 WBGO
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