Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Les Paul at the Iridium Club

Last night, some friends and I went to the Iridium Club in NYC to hear Les Paul, father of the electric guitar, play with his trio, Lou Pallo (guitar, vocals), Nicki Parrott (upright bass) and John Colianni (piano). This was a fun show, with the master in fine form, despite some abiding problems with his left hand, and his irascible sense of humor much in evidence.

The band played many great standards, including 'Summertime', 'Sweet Georgia Brown', and 'Sunny', aided and abetted by a number of fine guests. Lou Pallo's playing was exemplary; it's always refreshing to watch a real pro in action on the electric guitar. Nicki Parrott did a great job of holding down the bottom end, and I'm sure Les could turn that into dirty joke faster than I!

Andrew Nemr, who is apparently something of a regular, tap danced with great panache through a couple of numbers, including the ballad 'Round Midnight'. Rebecca Buxton on baritone sax gave a fabulous performance on 'Lester Leaps In', demonstrating terrific agility and tone on this amazing instrument. There was also a great electric violin player and a great guitar player, neither of whose names registered in my bourbon-assisted brain.

Three of my 30 guitars are Les Pauls (one Elegant, one Class 5, and one Robot), and they are my very favorite instruments. These are the axes I use most for playing out, and their tunefulness and versatility is pretty much unmatched. At 92, Les Paul's spirit is undimmed, and if I'm still alive and playing at that age, I'll consider myself to be pretty fortunate, as well as eternally in his debt.

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