The Guitar Players - James Sallis

The Guitar Players: One Instrument and It's Masters in American Music is a re-released book (originally published in 1982) that chronicles the role of the guitar in the "big bang" of American music. In addition to useful biographical information on such players as Lonnie Johnson, Riley Puckett, Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery, there are insights into the developments of jazz, bluegrass, rockabilly and blues as seen through the eyes of guitar players.

The guitar is the quintessential American musical instrument, a point solidly brought home by this book. For example, the similarities with early bluesmen in Mississippi and the string bands of Appalachia are enlightening when put side by side.

While at times sounding a little academic, this is a genuinely enjoyable volume. Among the first of the flock of guitar history books this one belongs on the bookshelf of any serious guitar player or student. Recommended.



The Guitar in Jazz - James Sallis

The Guitar In Jazz: An Anthology was not written but compiled and edited by Sallis. There are informative and enjoyable essays from a variety of writers. Players covered include Hank Garland, Joe Pass, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow and others.

I found this to be a fun and interesting read. I learned more about guys like Hank Garland and Carl Kress, and the section on Charlie Christian is the most detailed I have yet read. One negative, the section on Oscar Moore seemed to be more about Nat Cole.

There are a lot of "one player per page" jazz guitar bio books out there. Very few go into as much depth about the lives and styles of the players as this one. You will find the musical examples as instructive as the text. For guitar players, especially ones new to jazz, this book is a "must have". Highly recommended.


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