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 Anthony Abbatangeli – of the Double A Jazz Guitar Workshop – 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) 🙂
Thank you so much Lyle for the honour of selecting me to pick my 5 Desert Island Picks. Some of these recordings are amongst the first introductions I made into the wonderful world of Jazz. Had those recordings not made an indelible mark on me, my entire life path could have been different. Anyways, I am glad that they impacted my life the way they did. I hope you enjoy it.
1) Miles Davis – Kind of Blue: The first Jazz record I ever bought and still my favourite. Every time I listen to it I seem to hear something. There is such a sense of control and cool coming from all the musicians on this recording. Despite the fact that there guitar on this album, it has so much about voicings (Bill Evans is Brilliant) and which notes to play and which notes not to play. It has taught me that more is not always more, sometimes less is more.
2) Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue: The first Jazz Guitar album I really got into. Kenny Burrell never overplays. This is a characteristic that I really appreciate as you could probably tell from my first two picks. Burrell is cool, subtle, bluesy and always in control of his instrument. Upon hearing “Chittlins Con Carne” and “Gee, baby ain’t I good to you” I immediately put those tunes into my repertoire and they have been there ever since.
3) Wes Montgomery – The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery: Every time I think I know all there is to know about playing Jazz Guitar I listen to Wes Montgomery for a big slice of humble pie. Post BeBop brilliance shines through on every tune on this record. However, having said that, my favourite tracks from this record are actually the slower and medium tempo tunes “Polkadots and Moonbeams”, In Your own Sweet Way” and “Gone with the wind”. It is as if Wes is saying, “I could burn through tunes at 225 bpm effortlessly, but I don’t have to”. His style of building an improvisation is absolute textbook.
4) Jim Hall and Ron Carter – Alone Together: My first jazz ensemble was a Guitar, Bass duo with a fellow musician. At first we played through the regular standards. Then he suggested we listen and emulate some Guitar, Bass duos like Jim Hall and Ron Carter. He lent me this record. Wow !!! Jim Hall (like Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery) is a master of control. The two musicians are listening to each other so intently that it is as if the instruments are having a musical conversation. Needless to say soon after studying this recording, our repertoire list mimicked the song list from this record.
5) Ed Bickert and Don Thompson – At the Garden Party: After much deliberation, I must give the fifth spot to Ed Bickert and Don Thompson. Ed Bickert taught and Jazz Guitarists everywhere that you not need an Archtop to play Jazz. Once again, restraint, respect for the song, respect for the other musicians on the stage reign supreme on this recording. The fact that it was recorded in my hometown of Toronto is besides the fact that I feel like this is a recording that I could listen to again and again and never get tired of the music or the musicians.
I would be amiss if I did not give honourable mentions to:
Susie Arioli and Jordan Officer’s Pennies from Heaven. It is on heavy rotation at my house. My daughter’s can sing every song. It has introduced them to the wonderful world of Jazz
John Pizzarelli’s After Hours – I could play (and sing) every song right along with it, and I often do.
Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby and Everybody Digs Bill Evans – Every guitarist should strive to play like Bill Evans
Keith Jarrett (Any of the Standard recordings he did with Gary Peacock and Jack Dejohnette). Breathing new life into old tunes.
Chet Baker – Chet Baker Sings. You think that you are cool, but you will never be as cool Chet Baker singing Jazz standards and then ripping into perfectly played solos on the trumpet all the while looking like a Hollywood heart throb. Now THAT’s cool 🙂
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