by Ted Gottsegen
Carl Kress, along with Eddie Lang, can be considered THE founding father
of jazz guitar. While Lang pioneered the use of single-string horn
inspired lines, Carl's method was that of chord soloing. Carl got his
start as banjoist for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1926, which also
featured Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer. In 1927 Kress entered
the studio accompanied by Bix and Trumbauer and recorded some sides as
the Chicago Loopers. From 1927-1929 Kress could be found in the bands of
Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Miff Mole and Red Nichols.
In the 1930's Kress had switched over to the guitar and beginning in 1932
recorded some of the finest duets in jazz guitar history with Eddie Lang
and again in 1934 with Dick McDonough. Soon Kress became known for his
second contribution to jazz by being part owner of the famed ONYX club
on 52nd Street.
Throughout the 30's and 40's Kress maintained a somewhat low profile by playing in and around New York City as a radio and studio guitarist, and in the 1950's could be seen as the guitarist for the Garry Moore television show. In the early 1960's Kress joined forces with Chicago guitarist George Barnes for a series of duet albums and he died on tour with Barnes after suffering a fatal heart attack in 1964.