Thursday, August 27, 2009

Video: George Van Eps and Howard Alden - Night and Day

This is probably my favorite Cole Porter song. The Father of Seven String Guitar, George Van Eps, and his protege, Howard Alden, do a fine job of playing it live. I think Mr Van Eps will always be hero to me. What genius.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

George Van Eps & Howard Alden Play Stompin' at the Savoy

This footage of George Van Eps and Howard Alden was taken at a concert in Schorndorf, Germany in October 1993. Bob Haggart (the composer of "What's New") is on upright bass and Butch Miles, long-time Count Basie drummer, is on the drum kit. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I've Got a Crush on You - George Van Eps Jazz Guitar Video

George Van Eps on his 7-string archtop guitar performing live at the 1979 Pittsburgh Men's Club Allegheny Jazz Festival. God Bless YouTube for making this video available to everyone. George Van Eps and George Gershwin are smiling down at us right now!

Monday, February 23, 2009

George Van Eps Pioneered 7-String Guitars in 1938 with His Epiphone Deluxe Archtop Guitar

The late guitarist George Van Eps was know as the "Father of the Seven String Guitar." No tatoos or nose rings or stage pyrotechnics typically favored by modern 7-string guitarists. 1938 was a more restrained era.

George Van Eps 7-String GuitaristThat was when Van Eps commissioned Epi Stathopoulo, president of the Epiphone guitar company to build him his first seven string wonder. He had the namesake of the modern Epiphone company graft a seven string neck onto the body of his much beloved 1931 Epiphone Deluxe hollowbody electric. It was that guitar he would play almost daily with the Paul Weston Orchestra and with staff orchestras for network television and New Yore and Los Angeles radio stations as well as on now classic recordings for the Capitol and Concord labels. "That's my 'lap piano'," Van Eps once said. The extra string enabled the sophisticated, pianistic, and complex voicings Van Eps pioneered.

It was Van Eps' legacy that has inspired Epiphone to introduce two seven string models this year--the the Les Paul Classic-7 string and the Korina Flying V-7 string. Both feature 2 open coil humbucker pickups and mahogany necks.

Van Eps played and recorded well into his eighties with great facility and artistry he attributed to a rigid practice schedule. As historian and guitar enthusiast Jim Frisch reports in 20th Century Guitar magazine, "He lived musically by this addage. 'If you don't practice one day, you'll know it. If you don't practice for two days, your friends and fellow musicians will know it. If you don't practice for three days, everyone in your audience knows it!'"

Why seven strings? "I wanted things to happen, voices to move, not just 'Oh, that's a chord, 'dunh-dunh.' I wanted something to go 'de da da duh' inside the chord or for the bass to move a little bit," Van Eps once told the Los Angeles Times. "I don't care about playing nine million notes a second. I'm more interested in having every voice in a chord be a melody that both stands by itself and works with the others."

Van Eps died of pneumonia November 29, 1998. He was 85 years old.