Those who know my “stride” style of finger-picking and swing jazz played on a nylon string acoustic guitar may be surprised by the departures I've taken in this new CD, "A Session with Guy Van Duser." Here I’m playing lead electric guitar, backed up by some very talented players who are my colleagues at Berklee College of Music. The concept for this CD grew out of my fondness for a particular recording, first heard in my youth, and from a lifelong wish to hear more of that great kind of music. Recorded in 1955, “A Session With Chet Atkins” was the first LP by legendary guitarist Chet Atkins, who went on to become one of the giants of modern country music. It featured a septet of the best Nashville players of its day: Bud Isaacs on lap steel, Dale Potter on fiddle, John Gordy on piano, Ray Eddington on rhythm guitar, Bob Moore on bass, Buddy Harmon on drums, and of course Chet's incomparable pickin' on electric guitar. Together they created a 'crossover' sound, remarkable for its time. The recording won a Grammy but Chet and that band never recorded together again. At this writing the LP is long out of print.
As a teenager, learning to play by ear, I would buy Chet's albums and copy every note of every song. His rich melodic playing, particularly as featured on the "Session" recording, has been an ongoing inspiration. Years later, after Chet and I became friends, we would share musical arrangements and trade ideas with each other. Though I did get to tell him how much I liked that early LP, I wish he had told me why he never made another one like it. Now as a Berklee faculty member, I've connected with other professors who are similarly interested in the era that produced the "Sessions" recording and intrigued with the musical styles of the historic players in the original band. "A Session with Guy Van Duser" is my tribute to Chet Atkins and a revisiting of that excellent blend of instrumentalists and music. I conceived of this CD as a kind of "Volume II" featuring the same instruments with a new line-up of players rockin' and swingin' together in good fellowship and musicianship.
Matt Glaser, doing the honors on fiddle, is Artistic Director of Berkleeʼs American Roots Music Program and a devotee of Dale Potterʼs double-stop playing style. Mike Ihde, picking up on lap steel where Bud Isaacs left off, has studied guitar with Nashville and Hawaiian legend Jerry Byrd. Bob Winter, on piano and celeste, has played with everyone from Teddy Wilson to the Boston Pops. Larry Baione, on archtop rhythm guitar, is Chair of the Guitar Department at Berklee. Dave Clark, on acoustic bass, has performed with guitarists George Benson, John Scofield and Emily Remler, among many others. Jon Hazilla, author of “Mastering the Art of Brushes”, is on drums.
I have chosen thirteen songs that Chet never recorded and given them a country/swing/jazz treatment. Included are two of my originals: one is for my long-time friend Doc Watson; the other was written the morning after Chetʼs passing in 2001.
“This is a great CD, I really enjoyed It. It brought back a lot of old
memories of the sessions I did with Chet and the guys. I hope you will keep it up (the steel sounded great too).”
Your friend, Bud Isaacs
“Son, I sure am enjoying listening to this CD! You learned it right!”
“Thanks Guy for giving us such a tasty, heartfelt recording in the Chet Atkins tradition, you've really captured the essence and tone of that era!! Go GUY!!!”
Tommy Emmanuel, CGP