Living legends are hard to come
by these days. So when we heard that such a legendary musician
as Les Paul was performing, whilst we were visiting the city
that never sleeps, we certainly could not afford to miss the
About The Artist.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee,
Les Paul also known as the 'Wizard
of Waukesha', is world renown as a guitarist, inventor
and recording artist. He is credited with one of the first
prototype solid bodied electric guitars known as “The Log”
and also in 1952 introduced the first eight-track tape recorder,
which he designed, and was marketed by Ampex.
Most famously however, in that
same year of 1952 he lent his name to what is now known as
the Gibson Les Paul. Many famous musicians have since played
the Gibson Les Paul, including Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy
Page, Slash, Joe Perry and many countless others.
In the following years, Les Paul
has remained in the music scene, recording a Grammy-winning
album of instrumental duets with Chet Atkins, “Chester and
Lester” in 1977, and performing at New York jazz clubs, which
is where this review takes place.
The venue for our evening was the Iridium
Club, which is located in the heart of Broadway near Times
Square. The Iridium is a small Jazz Club, which hosts Les’s
weekly shows as well as other Jazz evenings.
The show was to start at 22.00hrs
and we arrived at around 21.30hrs. We already found some
people queuing at the door, many with guitars by their side,
the same as myself. Earlier in the day we had actually been
browsing the music stores on 48th Avenue and I
had actually purchased a guitar to take with me to the concert.
It was of course a Les Paul, the
faded double-cut model in TV Yellow as I was told that in
the second seating of his show, Les Paul would stay behind
and sign autographs.
Shortly after this, and amidst
conversation of a musical nature, between the people in the
queue, the guests from the first seating started to depart,
all off them looking like they had enjoyed the show.
We were then taken down to the
club, which was in the basement, and seated very near to the
As we also experienced at a B.B
King concert earlier this year the band started playing first
and then Les Paul walked in to a thunderous applause by the
crowd who were thrilled to see their guitar hero.
Les who is now 88 years old was
forever smiling and in a cheery mood. He made many jokes between
the members of the band and the audience in between songs
and at one point the band even stopped at his signal and posed
for the cameras amidst a tune!
As for the music it was simply
amazing, his band consists of the following musicians.
Lead Guitar: Les Paul
Rhythm Guitar: Lou Pallo
Guitar: Frank Vignola
Double Bass: Nicki
Piano: John Colianni
Les Paul and his quartet played many well-known
tunes from his long recording career which included, “How
High the Moon”, “ Bye Bye Blues”, “Brazil” and many others.
A number of songs were played in their instrumental versions
whilst others were sung.
The band was tight and very impressive
musically with a special mention for Frank Vignola’s guitar
work reminiscent in style to that of Django Reinhardt. Nicki
Parrot and John Colianni also had their solo spots where they
showed their impressive talent on their respective instruments.
A young performer was also invited on to
the stage to play. he played a couple of tunes very well,
to the amazement of the audience, and it was quite amusing
when Les popped a joke about his Cyber-Twin modelling amplifier
and how it was impossible to find a good sound within the
Another interesting anecdote was one of
a “lost chord” Les was missing from a song as a youngster
and how his father burned his guitar so he would not have
It was certainly interesting to hear all
these stories from his past.
As one would expect Les Paul was
playing his signature guitar, a Les Paul Recording that was
also fitted with a Bigsby Vibrato. The “Recording” model is
filled with switches and knobs that alter the tone and quite
seems to suit Les Paul as the inventor and recording enthusiast
he also is.
Les Paul Recording.
Lou Pallo &
Les Paul Custom
Lou Pallo played a Black Les Paul
Custom, whilst Frank Vignola had a custom jazz style acoustic.
After the performance finished,
as it was announced that Les Paul would meet anyone that so
wished, we form a line and one by one he took his time to
talk to everyone and sign CDs, T-shirts, and even guitars.
I asked him about his sound and he mentioned that as in the
old days he likes to plug in straight to the board with no
equalisation and minimal effects. He also commented that he
liked my guitar and that it came with the “old” (p90) pickups.
He also signed a t-shirt which he dedicated to my wife.
A truly memorable event. The music
was great, the band was incredible and most of all, the artist
took the time to communicate and even further meet his audience.
By Ernest H Slade