Al Viola (g,b)
Reference: FSRCD 633
Bar code: 8427328606332
Of all the adjectives that might be applied to Alfred Ferdinando Viola (1919-2007), perhaps the most all-embracingly apt would be resourceful.
A Brooklyn native who developed most of his career as a guitarist in Hollywood, he became known in the mid 40s as an integral part of the popular Page Cavanaugh Trio. Later, in the Fifties, when he joined Bobby Troups trio, he worked and recorded with Julie London, Jimmy Witherspoon, June Christy and many other great singersmost memorably Frank Sinatrain addition to holding the guitar chair with the diverse big bands and styles of Harry James, Nelson Riddle, Ray Anthony and Buddy Collettes modern jazz quintet.
That hard-earned versatility is reflected in these late-50s recordings, in which he is a one-man guitar orchestra, performing and arranging all the parts himself. He recorded the rhythm and bass guitars separately on one tape for the basic rhythmic pattern.
On another, the amplified or gut-stringed guitars were used for fills (in which the guitars were the equivalent of a brass, string or reed section). The first two tapes were then combined and the single-fingered solos were added on a third tape. Viola put them all together with judicious balancing, and gave each of the twelve standards its own individual treatment, with varied instruments used to provide the special effects. The fruit of his hard work and unquestioned ability is stunningly revealed in The Guitars.
"The great guitarist Al Viola had a busy career, whether playing with the Page Cavanaugh Trio, Frank Sinatra or in the studios. He did not lead that many albums, making Guitars from 1959 a real treat. For the two albums (Guitars and Guitars Vol. 2), Viola is heard on solo, rhythm and bass guitars, usually overdubbing three parts. His treatments of the standards are concise (all but one of the 24 performances are under three minutes), melodic and tasteful, with the emphasis on his beautiful tones and subtle creativity."
Scott Yanow -Los Angeles Jazz Scene