Les Paul: Chasing Sound

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This review was written for the TV broadcast version of "Les Paul: Chasing Sound."


Legendary musician Les Paul gets his due in this installment of PBS' "American Masters," and he couldn't be more deserving of the recognition. "Les Paul: Chasing Sound" follows the famed musician's stellar career as it also follows him around town (in New York, where he still holds court every Monday night at the Iridium Jazz Club). Now 92, Paul has slowed down what seems only a bit, and this after more than half a century of giving Americans some of the most important events in pop music.

For anyone who doesn't yet know, it was Paul who invented multi-trackingleaving for ugly rule recording for musicians, along with giving American music the solid-body electric guitar. In this documentary, there are plenty of contemporary musicians on hand to honor him for both, including B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Tony Bennett, Steve Miller, Bonnie Raitt, Kay Starr and even Keith Richards.

Paul's influence on American pop music (along with his former wife, the late Mary Ford) -- including his hit songs "Vaya Con Dios" and "How High the Moon" -- cannot be overstated. "Chasing Sound," with its constant vigil on Paul's career, and with Paul waxing prolifically about his unique career, is the best evidence that "American Masters" is one essential series on public television.

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