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Joe Venuti/Eddie Lang: The Classic Columbia and Okeh Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang

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illustration of Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang

Violinist Giuseppe “Joe” Venuti may not have been born on the boat that brought his family from Italy, as he liked to claim in later life, but here’s one thing that is true: he and his boyhood friend, guitarist Salvatore Massaro aka Eddie Lang, were among the first virtuosos of the Jazz Age.

Venuti and Lang heard early Original Dixieland Jazz Band records and were drawn to the hot sound. Among the white players of the era, only Bix Beiderbecke rivals their importance, and while neither Venuti nor Lang could challenge Bix as a soloist, both created highly evolved hot styles on instruments that were almost completely undeveloped within jazz.

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