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 Jazz Guitarist Mark Capon 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) 🙂
1) Andy Brown – Alone Time: I discovered guitarist Andy Brown a few years back. I became very familiar with his style and influences through his live streams during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and his other performances. I believe among his influences are many of the players I listened to including Joe Pass. Joe Pass became highly associated with the demanding art of solo jazz guitar and Andy has carried on the tradition with many great solo guitar performances. Andy’s solo guitar CD’s, Alone Time and Soloist are full of great songs and are beautifully performed. Flip a coin and take your pick between one of these two great CD’s.
2) Andy Brown – Lessons Lyrical: Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass teamed up starting in the 1970’s performing as a duo. This format has become very popular during the following decades arguably because of economics and cabaret restrictions but it also provides an interesting contrast to the traditional setting of a vocalist being accompanied by a full rhythm section. As a guitarist myself who has performed in this setting I am always on the lookout for others who are doing the same. Andy Brown and his wife, jazz vocalist Petra van Nuis deliver some stunning performances on two Vocal/Guitar CD’s: Lessons Lyrical and Far Away Places. Petra van Nuis has a beautiful angelic voice who is perfect in such an intimate musical setting (although she is also certainly at home in larger settings as well). Andy Brown covers so much territory with his chords, bass notes, fills, etc. that you do not miss the absence of a full rhythm section yet he never overplays. Andy Brown also partnered with another great jazz vocalist, Rebecca Kilgore in a live CD aptly titled Together – Live. Rebecca’s great singing along with Andy’s superb accompaniment and solo interludes once again produced a collection of stunning performances. These three CD’s are great choices to choose from if you like vocal/guitar jazz duets.
3) Ella Fitzgerald – Song Book: As a guitarist myself who performs regularly with vocalists I find that learning as many standards as possible is essential. The Ella Fitzgerald Song Book albums highlighted many of the most well known tunes by some of the major composers of the Great American Songbook: Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, George & Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. The First Lady Of Song accurately and flawlessly delivers the melody to these gems from these major composers of the twentieth century and as an added option she very often sings the verse. If you need a collection of recordings that focus on a specific composer in a neat compact collection I would consider these albums to be great choices. If you can only pick one to take with you to a desert island and if you are doing a tribute concert to a specific composer you cannot go wrong with these choices.
4) Susannah McCorkle – From Broadway to Bebop: I first heard a Susannah McCorkle CD in the mid 1980’s and loved her singing immediately. She has made roughly twenty CD’s over a period of approximately two decades. I have listened to many/most of her recordings and have loved them all. Great songs, great singing and great musicianship by her supporting players. If you are a musician who works with singers who sing standards or you simply like vocal jazz you cannot go wrong with these recordings. Take a pick of anyone of them.
5) Various Trios: Many guitarists including myself have performed in the Guitar/Bass/Drums trio format. The absence of a pianist which is by design allows the guitarist to demonstrate the demanding art of chord melody playing and improvising chordal passages. My final desert island pick would be an imaginary compilation album featuring selected performances from some of my favorite Guitar/Bass/Drums trio albums:
- Joe Pass – Intercontinental
- Joe Pass – Live At Donte’s
- Joe Pass – Resonance
- Joe Pass – Portraits Of Duke Ellington
- Joe Pass – Eximious
- Barney Kessel – Just Friends
- Barney Kessel – Soaring
- Kenny Burrell – When Lights Are Low
- Jim Hall – LIVE!
- Andy Brown – Trio And Solo
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