A portrait of Eddie Lang, inscribed to Leo McConville. Courtesy of the McConville Archives.

I come from the generation of listeners who waited for the hot solo in the midst of what we were taught (by the communal listeners’ culture) was dull by comparison.  And some of those solos were frankly electrifying. Here is a memorable example:

The caricature of such listeners is the people who wore out the Bix solo on the Whiteman SWEET SUE but left the rest of the record’s surface black and gleaming.

But I have come to see how limiting that was.  Consider this 1931 recording of a sweet pop song.  It’s a Ben Selvin group, with a vocal by the demurely named Paul Small.  This record (and the other side, WHAT IS IT?) finds no mention in a jazz discography, yet it is very satisfying music.  For one thing, it is beautifully played — great dance music, wonderful strains to be holding one’s love, whether any apologies have been tendered or received in the recent past.

The other reason is the deliciously subtle but pervasive guitar of Salvatore Massaro, “Eddie Lang” to the rest of us — who begins the side with an instantly recognizable introduction, and is audible behind the vocal and uplifting throughout.

And they say men don’t know how to apologize.  What wonderful music, what danceable tenderness.

May your happiness increase!


  1. Ted O'Reilly

    Paul Small? The label says Robert Wood. (Of course, it also says Lloyd Keating, as you note…)

  2. Ted, I am not an expert on this, but the Ben Selvin, Fred Rich, Sam Lanin, and Ed Kirkeby bands used what feels like thousands of band-aliases and singer-pseudonyms in the Twenties and early Thirties.

  3. Selvin’s band and his vocalists did indeed use many aliases. At least two (maybe three or more) different vocalists were listed as being “Robert Wood” or “Bobby Dix”. The two I know of were Paul Small and Orlando Roberson. I forget if Robert Wood was the name of one of his vocalists or not but I’m certain “Dix” was made up. Incidentally, this is my favorite Selvin side under the alias Jerry Fenwyck also from 1931 with a beautiful Eddie Lang introduction and Joe Venuti obbligato behind Roberson’s vocal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s