Saturday, March 25, 2017

Allan Reuss - An Extraordinary Jazz Guitarist

Allan Reuss (1915 - 1988)
Allan Reuss was an American jazz guitarist, who spent most of his career in the famous big bands of the swing era or as a studio musician. He was born in New York City in 1915 and began playing professionally as a banjoist at age 12. He took lessons and learned guitar from George Van Eps, who recommended Reuss to Benny Goodman. Reuss took over Van Eps' chair in Benny Goodman's orchestra in 1935 and played with Goodman on and off until 1943. He also played with Paul Whiteman's String Wing (1939) and joined Jack Teagarden's orchestra 1939-40. Next Reuss was with Jimmy Dorsey (1941-42) and Harry James (1942-43). At the same time he was a frequent session musician in the recording studios in New York until 1945, when he moved to Los Angeles. Here he continued as a studio guitarist and played with  Arnold Ross, Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter a.o. After 1946, he was less frequently on jazz dates, but he took part in occasional reunions with Benny Goodman a.o. and continued studio work in hundreds of various recordings during the 1950s and 1960s as an anonymous musician.
Promo photo 1936
Allan Reuss was an extraordinary guitarist who formed the foundationin in the rhythm section of the swing orchestra . His role was primarily to keep the rhythm going, which he did excellently, but from time to time he had a chance to show off his sophisticated chord style solo playing placing him in the top class of swing guitarists. Below I'll insert some examples of Allan Reuss' solos with various artists.
Benny Goodman
As mentioned above, Allan Reuss joined Benny Goodman and his orchestra in 1935 on the recommendation of George Van Eps. Benny Goodman recorded frequently and was on radio at the time, but only a couple of times Reuss got the opportunity to play solo. An example from November 22, 1935 is heard in If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight with the full Benny Goodman orchestra


Lionel Hampton
Reuss freelanced as a studio musician from 1937 and was engaged by a.o. Lionel Hampton to take part in some of Hampton's studio sessions for victor. From a session recorded April 26, 1937 Allan Reuss has a short elaborated solo in a version of I Got Rhythm, here titled Rhythm, Rhythm. Participating musicians are Buster Bailey (cl), Johnny Hodges (as), Lionel Hampton (vib), Jess Stacy (p), John Kirby (b), Cozy Cole (d) besides Allan Reuss (g)


Jack Teagarden
Reuss joined Jack Teagarden and his orchestra 1939 and stayed with him through 1940. During this engagement, Allan Reuss had the opportunity to record his own Pickin' for Patsy - his   highly sophisticated solo piece with big band. The piece was recorded in New York, May 5 1939 and sounded like this


Variations in Jazz, I Never Knew (Asch 350-3B), 1939
A rather special recording was made for Moses Asch's record label in 1939 featuring Allan Reuss as a member of a pick-up ensemble named Peck's Bad Boys. Reuss contributes some extraordinary solo work which alone is worth this special record


Coleman Hawkins
Allan Reuss moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1945 to continue as a studio musician. For some time he led his own trio, but there were no recordings made. He was engaged by Coleman Hawkins to take part in his recording sessions for Capitol February-March 1945 and did a couple of short solos, a.o. in Stuffy recorded February 23, 1945. Participating musicians are: Howard McGhee (tp), Coleman Hawkins (ts), Sir Charles Thompson (p), Allen Reuss (g), Oscar Pettiford (b) and Denzil Best (d)


Benny Carter
The last solo work by Allan Reuss to be presented here is from a session with Arnold Ross Quintet featuring Benny Carter (as), Artie Berstein (b), Nick Fatool (d), Arnold Ross (p) and Allan Reuss (g) recorded in Los Angeles, April 1946. Three takes of The Moon Is Low were recorded, below is inserted the version uploaded a You Tube to end this small presentation of Allan Reuss

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Jo
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