Artist Details

Joe Venuti

Although renowned as one of the world's great practical jokers (he once called a couple dozen bass players with an alleged gig and asked them to show up with their instruments at a busy street corner just so he could view the resulting chaos), Joe Venuti's real importance to jazz is as improvised music's first great violinist. He was a boyhood friend of Eddie Lang (jazz's first great guitarist) and the duo teamed up in a countless number of settings during the second half of the 1920s, including recording influential duets. Venuti moved to New York in 1925, and immediately he and Lang were greatly in demand for jazz recordings, studio work, and club appearances. Venuti seemed to play with every top white jazz musician during the segregated era and, in 1929, he and Lang joined Paul Whiteman's Orchestra, appearing in the film The King of Jazz.