by Alex Henderson
Anthony Wilson is also a jazz guitarist, although he isn't from Western Canada, but rather, Los Angeles -- and his father is the legendary pianist/bandleader/composer Gerald Wilson. This Anthony Wilson followed in his father's footsteps in that he pursued a career in music and made jazz (specifically, hard bop and post-bop) his main focus -- and even though he made a name for himself playing guitar rather than acoustic piano, it is clear that Gerald Wilson's bandleader/arranger perspective rubbed off on his son in a major way. Gerald Wilson is famous not only for his piano playing, but also for leading and arranging bands and for composing; similarly, Anthony Wilson is known for his guitar playing as well as for his arranging, bandleading, and composing skills. Anthony Wilson has cited Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell as major influences on his guitar playing, while pointing to Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Tadd Dameron, Oliver Nelson, and Marty Paich as some of the people who have influenced him as a bandleader and arranger. Ellington was fond of saying that his band was his "instrument," and one of the things Wilson learned from the Duke was the way in which bandleading and arranging can be as important to self-expression as playing an actual instrument. That said, Wilson's considerable skills as a guitarist should not be downplayed. Wilson was born in Los Angeles on May 9, 1968. Thanks to his father, Wilson acquired a taste for jazz at a young age -- and by the time he was in his mid-teens, he was playing gigs in Southern California with well-known L.A. residents such as drummer Billy Higgins, tenor saxophonist Harold Land, and trumpeter Oscar Brashear. Not long after that, Wilson was playing in his father's band (where he learned a lot about composition and arranging). But eventually, Wilson began to perform and record as a leader. The Californian's self-titled debut album as a leader was released by the L.A.-based MAMA Foundation in 1997 and was followed by a few more MAMA releases, including his 1998 recording Goat Hill Junket and his 1999 session Adult Themes. Wilson moved to Groove Note not long after that, recording Our Gang (an intimate trio date with organist Joe Bagg and drummer Mark Ferber) in 2000 -- and the following year, he started backing jazz singer Diana Krall (who was the top-selling artist on the Verve roster at the time). Wilson's subsequent Groove Note releases included Savivity (a 2005 release), Power of Nine (a 2006 session), and Jack of Hearts (recorded in early 2009).
by MacKenzie Wilson
French guitarist Sylvain Luc has honed his jazz improvisations since the 1980s, when he first discovered jazz as a teenager. He studied at the prestigious Academy de Bayonne as a child, mastering the guitar, cello, violin, and mandolin, but jazz shed a different light on Luc's musical ambitions. He spent time with the Bubble Quartet, discovering an appreciation for South African music in his twenties. Luc combined his love for jazz with worldbeat sounds and carved a career for himself. He issued his first album, Duet, in 2000. Sud followed shortly thereafter. A third album, Trio Sud, was issued in spring 2002 and featured collaborations with Jean-Marc Jafet and Andre Ceccarelli.
by Chris Kelsey
John Abercrombie's tying together of jazz's many threads made him one of the most influential acoustic and electric guitarists of the 1970s and early '80s; his recordings for ECM have helped define that label's progressive chamber jazz reputation. His star has since faded somewhat, due largely to the general conservatism that's come to dominate jazz, though he has remained a vital creative personality. Abercrombie's style draws upon all manner of contemporary improvised music; his style is essentially jazz-based, but he also displays a more-than-passing familiarity with forms that range from folk and rock to Eastern and Western art musics. Abercrombie attended Boston's Berklee College of Music from 1962 to 1966. While at Berklee, the guitarist toured with bluesman Johnny Hammond. After relocating to New York in 1969, Abercrombie spent time in groups led by drummers Chico Hamilton and Billy Cobham. It was with the latter's Spectrum group that Abercrombie first received widespread attention. Abercrombie's first album as leader was Timeless, a trio album with drummer Jack DeJohnette and keyboardist Jan Hammer. That was followed by Gateway, another trio with DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland replacing Hammer. Abercrombie's subtle and lyrical style is heard to best effect in small, intimate settings, with the recurring Gateway trio or as captured in duos with fellow guitarist Ralph Towner. Abercrombie continued to be active as the 21st century opened, releasing Cat 'n' Mouse in 2002, Class Trip in 2004, A Nice Idea (with pianist Andy LaVerne) in 2005, Structures (recorded with a single microphone) in 2006, and Third Quartet in 2007. Wait Till You See Her appeared in 2009.
by Scott Yanow
Kenny Burrell has been a very consistent guitarist throughout his career. Cool-toned and playing in an unchanging style based in bop, Burrell has always been the epitome of good taste and solid swing. Duke Ellington's favorite guitarist (though he never actually recorded with him), Burrell started playing guitar when he was 12, and he debuted on records with Dizzy Gillespie in 1951. Part of the fertile Detroit jazz scene of the early '50s, Burrell moved to New York in 1956. Highly in demand from the start, Burrell appeared on a countless number of records as a leader and as a sideman. Among his more notable associations were dates with Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, Milt Jackson, John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Stanley Turrentine, and Jimmy Smith. Starting in the early '70s, Burrell began leading seminars and teaching, often focusing on Duke Ellington's music. He toured with the Phillip Morris Superband during 1985-1986, and led three-guitar quintets, but generally Kenny Burrell plays at the head of a trio/quartet.
by Alvaro Neder
Egberto Gismonti is world-renowned as a multi-instrumentalist and composer. He was profoundly influenced by Brazilian master Heitor Villa-Lobos, his works reflecting the musical diversity of Brazil. From the Amazon Indians' batuque to the Carioca samba and choro, through the Northeastern frevo, baião, and forró, Gismonti captures the true essence of the Brazilian soul in a way that is primitive, yet sophisticated, and reflects it through his personal vision, elaborated by years of classic training and literacy in a wealth of musical languages in which jazz plays a significant role. From a musical family, in which his grandfather and his uncle Edgar were bandleaders, he started to take piano and theory classes at five. At that time, he also started to learn the flute and the clarinet, eventually taking the violão (acoustic guitar) in his teens. Following the piano classical tradition because of his father, he embraced the guitar to please his Italian mother, who was very fond of serenatas. Trying to transpose the piano's polyphonic quality for the guitar, he ended several years later with three custom-made instruments (ten-, 12-, and 14-stringed) and a personally developed two-hand technique. At eight, he started to study piano with Brazilian masters Jacques Klein and Aurélio Silveira for a 15-year apprenticeship. Establishing himself in Nova Friburgo, a small town near Rio, for one year and four months, he attended the Nova Friburgo Music Conservatory. Awarded with a scholarship to study classical music in Vienna, Austria, at 20, he refused it in order to delve deeper in the popular side. In October 1968, his composition "O Sonho," arranged by him for a 100-piece orchestra, was presented at the third International Song Festival (FIC), promoted by TV Globo, Rio, by the group Os Três Morais. This song, with its uncanny orchestration, provoked enthusiasm around and was recorded 18 different times by several international artists. Soon after in that year, he left Brazil for France, where he became the conductor and orchestrator for the French singer Marie Laforêt in an association that lasted for one and a half years. It was instrumental for him to meet and became a pupil of the great masters Jean Barraqué (1928-1973), a disciple of Anton Webern, and Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979), a former consultant to Ygor Stravinsky. The additional importance of these two icons upon Gismonti's career was to stress the unique richness of his country's background and urge him to pursue a singular expression rooted in the cabocla and mestiça tradition. This would cause him to return to Brazil in 1971. His first LP, Egberto Gismonti, was already released in 1969 through Elenco. There, he sang his own songs and had a partnership with the bossa nova composer Paulo Sérgio Vale. Also in 1969, he presented himself at the San Remo Festival in Italy. In 1970, he toured through Europe, recording two singles in France, one LP in Italy, one in Brazil (Sonho 70), and one LP in Germany (Orfeu Novo). His song "Mercador de Serpentes" was presented at the fifth FIC in 1970. Returning to Brazil in 1971, he settled in Teresópolis, another small town close to Rio. He played in several venues in Brazil and his music was included on the soundtracks of the movies A Penúltima Donzela (Fernando Amaral, 1969), Confissões de Frei Abóbora (Brás Chediak, 1971), and Em Família (Paulo Porto, 1971). In 1972, he recorded Água e Vinho (in partnership with poet Geraldo Carneiro) and in 1973, Egberto Gismonti and Adademia de Danças, all three LPs through EMI/Odeon, the latter of which was the turning point when he began to stress his instrumental work. After its recording, the producer said it made no sense at all. He received a note from EMI/Odeon saying that, due to Brazil's economic difficulties, that would be the last album of Gismonti's career: it was an album outside of any category, with 25-minute tracks, expensively produced with synths and orchestra. This album was awarded with the Golden Record in Brazil. From 1972 to 1991, he would record 19 albums for EMI/Odeon. In 1974, he accepted an invitation to play at a festival in Berlin, Germany, and asked Hermeto Pascoal and Naná Vasconcelos to join him in his presentation. He then met ECM's CEO, Manfred Eicher. Returning to Brazil, he received a letter from ECM in 1975, inviting him to record with them. Not knowing what would be the importance of that label, he postponed the response until the end of 1976. Then he accepted the invitation, imagining he'd record with the all-star Brazilian group he was performing with by then: drummer/percussionist Robertinho Silva, bassist Luis Alves, and saxophonist/flutist Nivaldo Ornelas. But the Brazilian military government had imposed a high fee for all leaving Brazilians at about 7,000 dollars. Being that cipher prohibitive for anyone in that group but him, he decided to record solo. Fearing that challenge, he was wandering through Norway when he met a Brazilian actor who was his friend. Invited to his home, he met Brazilian percussionist Naná Vasconcelos there. Having to record the album in three days, he decided to have Vasconcelos into it, and asked by him to describe the album's concept, he explained that both of them had a common history, and he proposed Vasconcelos use that album for telling it. It was the history of two boys wandering through a dense, humid forest, full of insects and animals, keeping a 180-feet distance from each other. He knew Vasconcelos would accept without hesitation, and he did. His LP Dança das Cabeças with Vasconcelos received several contradictory international awards reflecting Brazilian cultural richness: in England, it was awarded as a pop record; in the U.S., as folklore music; in Germany, as classical music. Either way, it changed both artists' lives: Vasconcelos immediately became a disputed international artist, touring worldwide; Gismonti returned to Brazil and decided to research Amazon folklore. In the heart of the Amazon forest, Alto Xingu, he tried to make contact with the Yawaiapitì tribe, playing his flute for two weeks until head chief Sapaim invited him to his home. They shared no common language other than music and Gismonti spent about a month living and learning with them, upon the condition of spreading the forest people's values. Two years later, with saxophonist Jan Garbarek, percussionist Colin Walcott, and guitarist Ralph Towner, he recorded Sol do Meio-Dia. His LP Solo, released that next year, sold 100,000 copies in the U.S. In 1981, with Garbarek and bassist Charlie Haden, he recorded the LP Magico. The same year, the trio toured Europe, including a concert at the Berlin Jazz Festival, and recorded a second Magico album, entitled Folksongs. In 1981, Gismonti again toured with Haden and Garbarek, performing throughout Europe. Also in that year, he recorded with his all-star group Academia de Danças (drummer Nenê, saxophonist/flutist Mauro Senise, and bassist Zeca Assunção) the double album Sanfona. With Vasconcelos, he recorded Duas Vozes in 1985. In 1989, he recorded Dança dos Escravos and in 1990, following the release of Dança das Cabeças, Gismonti toured the United States with his group, which included cellist Jaquinho Morelembaum, flutist/saxophonist Nivaldo Ornellas, and Edu Mello E Souza on keyboards. Also in 1990, he recorded Infância, accompanied by Nando Carneiro (guitar/keyboards), Zeca Assumpção (bass), and cellist Jaquinho Morelembaum. With the same group, he recorded in 1993 Música de Sobrevivência, an album inspired by the writings of the Brazilian poet Manoel de Barros, who reflects in his work the Brazilian duality of the cultivated Portuguese tradition and the massive illiteracy disseminated in that country, which, notwithstanding, deeply influences the official language. In 1995, he recorded with the State Symphonic Orchestra of Lithuania the CD Meeting Point. In 1996, Gismonti recorded with Nando Carneiro and Zeca Assumpção for the CD Zig Zag. As a businessman, he owns the successful label Carmo, which has several joint ventures with ECM. He also performed an almost impossible task: He bought the rights for all of his phonograms through EMI/Odeon for worldwide publishing, with the exception of Brazil.
by Scott Yanow
One of the most original guitarists from the '80s onward (he is instantly recognizable), Pat Metheny is a chance-taking player who has gained great popularity but also taken some wild left turns. His records with the Pat Metheny Group are difficult to describe (folk-jazz? mood music?) but managed to be both accessible and original, stretching the boundaries of jazz and making Metheny famous enough so he could perform whatever type of music he wants without losing his audience. Metheny (whose older brother is the trumpeter Mike Metheny) started on guitar when he was 13. He developed quickly, taught at both the University of Miami and Berklee while he was a teenager, and made his recording debut with Paul Bley and Jaco Pastorius in 1974. He spent an important period (1974-1977) with Gary Burton's group, met keyboardist Lyle Mays, and in 1978 formed his group, which originally featured Mays, bassist Mark Egan, and drummer Dan Gottlieb. Within a short period he was ECM's top artist and one of the most popular of all jazzmen, selling out stadiums. Metheny mostly avoided playing predictable music, and his freelance projects were always quite interesting. His 1980 album 80/81 featured Dewey Redman and Mike Brecker in a post-bop quintet; he teamed up with Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins on a trio date in 1983; and two years later recorded the very outside Song X with Ornette Coleman. Metheny's other projects away from the group have included a sideman recording with Sonny Rollins; a 1990 tour with Herbie Hancock in a quartet; a trio album with Dave Holland and Roy Haynes; and a collaboration (and tour) with Joshua Redman. Although many regarded his 1994 recording Zero Tolerance for Silence as largely a waste (40 minutes of feedback), Metheny retained his popularity and remained a consistently creative performer. In addition to recording for ECM, he has appeared as a leader on the Geffen, Warner Bros., and Nonesuch labels. Metheny has remained active in the 21st century, releasing Speaking of Now in 2002, the solo One Quiet Night in 2003, Way Up in 2005, and Metheny Mehldau in 2006. Metheny and pianist Brad Mehldau returned to the studio the following year for Quartet. Metheny released the trio album Day Trip in 2008. Orchestrions, which featured a solo Metheny playing several acoustic instruments designed and built for him by Eric Singer, appeared from Nonesuch early in 2010.
by Scott Yanow
A harmonically advanced cool-toned and subtle guitarist, Jim Hall has been an inspiration to many guitarists, including some (such as Bill Frisell) who sound nothing like him. Hall attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and studied classical guitar in Los Angeles with Vincente Gomez. He was an original member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet (1955-1956), and during 1956-1959 was with the Jimmy Giuffre Three. After touring with Ella Fitzgerald (1960-1961) and sometimes forming duos with Lee Konitz, Hall was with Sonny Rollins' dynamic quartet in 1961-1962, recording The Bridge. He co-led a quartet with Art Farmer (1962-1964), recorded on an occasional basis with Paul Desmond during 1959-1965 (all of their quartet performances are collected on a Mosaic box set), and then became a New York studio musician. He has mostly been a leader ever since and, in addition to his own projects for World Pacific/Pacific Jazz, MPS, Milestone, CTI, Horizon, Artists House, Concord, Music Masters, and Telarc, Jim Hall recorded two classic duet albums with Bill Evans. A self-titled collaboration with Pat Metheny followed in 1999. A flurry of studio albums, reissues, and compilations followed throughout the next few years, with the exceptional Jim Hall & Basses standing out for its bass/guitar duet format.
Born: November 8, 1963
Russell Malone's first guitar was a plastic green toy his mother bought him. Only four years old, Malone strummed the little guitar all day long for days on end trying to emulate the sounds he had heard from guitarists at church in Albany, Georgia. As a child, Malone developed an interest in blues and country music after seeing musicians on television like Chet Atkins, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Roy Clark, Son Seals, and B.B. King. Then, at age 12, he saw George Benson perform with Benny Goodman on Soundstage. Malone has said, “I knew right then and there that I wanted to play this music.”
A self-taught player, Malone progressed well enough to land a gig with master organist Jimmy Smith when he was 25. “It made me realize that I wasn't as good as I thought I was,” Malone recalls of his first on-stage jam with Smith. After two years with Smith, he hooked up with Harry Connick Jr.'s orchestra, a position he held from 1990-94, appearing on three of Harry's recordings. But Malone also worked in a variety of contexts, performing with artists as diverse as Clarence Carter, Little Anthony, Peabo Bryson, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Barron, Roy Hargrove, The Winans, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Jack McDuff.
Along the way, Malone made a name for himself combining the bluesy sound of Grant Green and Kenny Burrell with the relentless attack of Django Reinhardt and Pat Martino.
Now Malone is one of the most commanding and versatile guitarists performing. He can move from blues to gospel to pop to R&B and jazz without hesitation, a rare facility that has prompted some of the highest profile artists in the world to call upon him: Diana Krall, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Natalie Cole, Wynton Marsalis, David Sanborn, Shirley Horn, Christina Aguilera and Harry Connick, Jr.
After hearing Malone play in Connick's band, former Sony head, Tommy Mottola, brought Malone over to Columbia. Malone's self-titled debut, Russell Malone, in 1992 quickly went to #1 on the radio charts and was followed by Black Butterfly in 1993.
Diana Krall's label, Verve Records, came calling next and released three albums by Malone: Sweet Georgia Peach, Look Who's Here, and Heartstrings. Malone joined Diana Krall in 1995, contributing to Krall's first four Grammy-nominated albums: All For You (1996), Love Scenes (1997), When I Look In Your Eyes (1999), and The Look Of Love (2001). In addition to winning for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, When I Look In Your Eyes (1999) was the first jazz album since 1976 (George Bensons's Breezin') nominated for Album of The Year.
by William Ruhlmann
Jazz guitarist Peter Bernstein was born September 3, 1967, in New York City. He got his first break while attending the New School when he met Jim Hall, who recruited him for a concert of guitarists as part of the 1990 JVC Jazz Festival in New York. The show was recorded by MusicMasters and issued as Live at Town Hall, Vol. 2. Bernstein quickly began playing with other jazz musicians, notably appearing on albums by Lou Donaldson, Michael Hashim, Larry Goldings, Mel Rhyne, Jesse Davis, and Geoff Keezer. He recorded his first album as a leader, Somethin's Burnin', for Criss Cross on December 22, 1992, as part of quartet with Brad Mehldau (piano), John Webber (bass), and Jimmy Cobb (drums). After working with such artists as Patti Page, Walt Weiskopf, Brian Lynch, Laverne Butler, Eric Alexander, and Hendrik Meurkens in 1993-1994, he issued his second solo album, Signs of Life, on May 2, 1995, working again with Mehldau, along with Christian McBride (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums). Further work as a sideman with Ghetto Philharmonic, Trudy Desmond, Teodross Avery, Joshua Redman, Kevin Mahogany, Grant Stewart, and Mike LeDonne preceded the release of his third album, Brain Dance, on June 24, 1997. This time, he led a quintet also containing Goldings (organ), Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone), Steve Davis (trombone), and Billy Drummond (drums). Prior to his fourth album, Earth Tones, Bernstein recorded with Ralph Lalama and Eric Comstock, among others. Earth Tones, issued August 25, 1998, found him fronting a trio with Goldings and Bill Stewart (drums). Five years elapsed before the release of Heart's Content, Bernstein's fifth album as a leader, and he occupied the time working with a wide variety of musicians including Tom Aalfs, Group 15, Jimmy Cobb's Mob, David Bubba Brooks, Doug Lawrence, Sam Yahel, David Morgan, Jon Gordon, Michael Karn, Spike Wilner, Anna Lauvergnac, Harry Allen, Paula West, Nicholas Payton, Etta Jones, Béla Szakcsi Lakatos, Lee Konitz, Klaus Doldinger, and Ralph Bowen. Heart's Content, which was released May 27, 2003, was credited to "Peter Bernstein + 3," and the three were Mehldau, Bill Stewart, and Larry Grenadier (bass). The same year the album appeared, Bernstein could be heard on albums by Ryan Kisor, Wycliffe Gordon, Janis Siegel, and Martin Sasse, among others. Stranger in Paradise, Bernstein's sixth album, was released June 8, 2004, by the Japanese Tokuma label, and employed the same lineup as that on Heart's Content. In addition to musicians with whom he had recorded before, Bernstein appeared on albums by Jim Rotondi and Dr. Lonnie Smith in 2004 and Kathy Kosins in 2005. On August 23, 2005, Mel Bay released the DVD Peter Bernstein Trio Live at Smoke, taped at a jazz club on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Among his many sideman sessions in the mid-2000s, Bernstein added dates with Joe Magnarelli, Alvin Queen, Planet Jazz, Anton Schwartz, John Pisano, David "Fathead" Newman, Don Friedman, Cory Weeds, and Andrew Suvalsky to the list of his credits, along with repeat appearances with others. On January 13, 2009, the newly reactivated Xanadu label released Bernstein's seventh album, Monk, a tribute to Thelonious Monk featuring all Monk compositions. Although Monk was a pianist, of course, the Bernstein recording was made with a pianoless trio consisting of himself, Doug Weiss (bass), and Bill Stewart.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1955.
Romero Lubambo studied classical piano and music theory as a young boy. From the time he played his first notes on the guitar at age thirteen, he devoted himself to that instrument. Lubambo graduated from the Villa-Lobos School of Music in Rio in 1978, an outstanding student of classical guitar; and, in 1980, received a degree in mechanical engineering from the Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro.
The rhythms and melodies defining Brazilian music and American jazz fascinated Lubambo. He taught himself through intense research and practice, developing exceptional skill, versatility and fluency in both jazz and Brazilian idioms. In 1985, Romero left Brazil for New York, where he became very much in demand, not only for his authentic Brazilian sound, but also for his command of a variety of styles. After reconnecting with fellow Brazilians Duduka da Fonseca and Nilson Matta, their impromptu sessions eventually led to the formation of Trio da Paz, a Brazilian Jazz trio widely recognized for their innovation, creativity and dynamic intensity. The group has become a major force in revitalizing and evolving the rich Brazilian musical legacy. Since their successful debut album “Brazil From The Inside” Trio da Paz has continued to break new ground with their special blend of traditional Brazilian rhythms and jazz improvisation.
Romero has also established himself as a composer and performer on his own critically acclaimed recording projects and collaborations with many outstanding artists, including Dianne Reeves, Michael Brecker, Yo-Yo Ma, Kathleen Battle, Diana Krall, Herbie Mann, Wynton Marsalis, Jane Monheit, Kenny Barron, Ivan Lins, Grover Washington Jr., Vernon Reid, Flora Purim and Airto, Sadao Watanabe, Paquito D'Rivera, Harry Belafonte, Larry Coryell, Gato Barbieri, Leny Andrade, James Carter, Paula Robison, Dave Weckl, Claudia Acuña, Jason Miles, Regina Carter, Luciana Souza, Gil Goldstein and Cesar Camargo Mariano among many others.