Lyle Robinson – 5 Desert Island Album Picks

Regardless if you’re a beginning student of Jazz Guitar or an established player, we all have at least five albums that we cannot be without! With that said, Jazz Guitar Life has asked JGL creator/editor and Guitarist Lyle Robinson what his five would be (assuming that he knew before hand that he was going to be stuck on a desert island and that said island had electricity and a full component stereo system) 🙂

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1) The Phil Woods Six – Live at the Showboat: I first heard this album back in the early 80’s and immediately fell in love with Harry Leahey’s beautifully rich guitar playing alongside Phil Wood’s stellar alto playing. There is Bop, Ballads and soft Brazilian sounds all over this double live album and it was a wonderful introduction to the American Popular Songbook. It was also my first introduction to Phil and Harry and as Phil states in the liner notes about Harry: “He was the top of the heap. He was the best guitarist that I had ever played with and I played with every one…”

2) Jimmy Raney – Live in Tokyo: When I first brought this album home I had just started studying this music and Raney’s playing definitely separated the men from the boys. I was enthralled by the “simple” complexity of how he manoeuvred his way through the music with lines that spoke of a maturity and passion for the Bebop language that – up until that point – I had not heard. I had indeed stepped up my listening game if nothing else!

3) Joe Pass – Intercontinental: What can I say about this remarkable album that hasn’t been said before. As much as I loved Joe’s Virtuoso series, I love hearing him play in ensemble settings even more! This album had great arrangements of popular tunes, great players – I mean c’mon…Eberhard Weber!! – and of course Joe’s melodic sense and improvisational acumen. This album gives me all that I need for my Pass fix!

4) Pat Metheny – Bright Size Life: I first heard Pat Metheny around 1981 and it was his first group – or “white album” – that introduced me to his unique style. But it was Bright Size Life that made me a life-long fan. His sparse but very musical writing and playing on BSL, along with Jaco and Bob Moses, signified a dynamic that I heard nowhere else – at the time. I’ve never been a trio fan (guitar, bass and drums), but this album was solid and nothing felt missing! I often listen to it these days and it brings me back to a much simpler time when music and melody seemed to matter just a little bit more to the players than it sometimes does today. Just my two cents!

5) George Benson/Jimmy Smith – Off The Top: If I had to bring a Benson album to the desert island – and who wouldn’t want to! – this is the one. Yes, I know that this is technically a Jimmy Smith album but George is all over this MOFO and has some of the best playing of his career – with the exception of Weekend in LA – in my humble opinion. This actually was a hard choice to make because I also love Benson and Farrell and the aforementioned Weekend in LA along with Bad Benson and all his CTI catalogue. But Off The Top features the best of the best and while one gets a lot of George on this recording, you also get Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Smith, Grady Tate and Ron Carter. Now who wouldn’t want those fellas on a Desert Island to pass the time 🙂

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