Michael Gauthier – 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 Montreal Jazz Guitarist Michael Gauthier 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) René Thomas – Guitar Groove: Real Be-Bop guitar at its best! Teaming up here with some of NYC’s finest, Belgium born Thomas made his home in Montreal for a time in the 60’s and made a huge impression on the city’s jazz scene becoming part of Montreal jazz mythology. I was introduced to René Thomas’ playing in Art Roberts’ basement (another member of Montreal’s jazz mythology) and I was pinned to the floor by René’s sound, energy, and his and the band’s rhythmical drive. If you like single note line playing, this recording has a real punch. “Like Someone In Love” (Ab) brings out the best of his Raney inspired / Django ignited playing. In fact, Ab since this recording has become the official key that is Montreal’s for rendering this standard à la jazz guitar!


2) Grant Green – Talkin’ About: What can be said about Grant Green one of the giants of the 60’s blue note era?? Like Hendrix the more I hear it, the more I like it. Singling out my favorite GG album, this I cannot do, but I might be prone to suggest one out of the amazing series of recordings that he made with Larry Young and Elvin Jones. Their 1964 organ trio album “Talkin’ About” easily comes to mind as one of the Desert Island musts because if you like happiness with an edge this is it. Elvin Jones has cited Grant Green as being his favorite guitarist pointing out the “purity of his improvisation”. The interplay between guitar and drums on the title track (and throughout) is as one, and Larry Young debunks the axiom that three’s a crowd. (Ahh, guitar and B3…a marriage made in heaven!). All tracks shine throughout this gem of a guitar jazz album. Take no prisoners performances throughout.


3) Hank Mobley – Soul Station: Hank Mobley like Grant Green rates right up there with the giants of the 60’s Blue Note era. His 1960 “Soul Station” needs no introduction and has been hailed by jazz critic Bob Blumenthal as being “one of the finest programs of music on Blue Note or any other label.” Mozart perfection throughout and Mobley’s solo on the opening track “Remember” has become the stuff of legend. This album is an acknowledged masterpiece, don’t leave home without it.


4) Jim Hall – “Live”: After being made aware of Hall’s famous duo recordings with Bill Evans, I next got a hold of this guitar trio date recorded live in Toronto in 1975. Having taken a peek at some of the others’ Desert Island Picks, I see that I am not alone in picking this one for the long haul. This is a guitar trio with imagination on steroids but without ever really spinning out of control. That great Jim Hall sound, the thread of lyricism throughout, chords galore, and the ofttimes cliff hanger interplay as Jim Hall’s role as first among equals mirror the Bill Evans approach to trio playing but makes it seem possible with six strings and a pick. A very engaging guitar trio record to say the least.


5) Kenny Burrell – Kenny Burrell Live At The Village Vanguard: If pressed to answer as to whom my favorite jazz guitarist is, I would have to say that it is Kenny Burrell. One of the first along with Barney Kessel to explore the guitar trio formation of guitar, bass and drums, his 1978 trio album simply entitled “Kenny Burrell Live At The Village Vanguard” encompasses much of what I love about Burrell’s playing: lush sound and a huge heart topping the list. As a student of mine once put it…”it sounds like he uses a T-bone steak for a pick”…..I can think of no better analogy. Heralded as Duke Ellington’s favorite guitarist, Burrell’s unique swinging, blues infused soulful style and that instantly recognizable sound of his own put him at the paramount of jazz guitar players of his era. All is from the heart, and I simply love his choices. It has been said that KB has never made a bad recording and having heard most of them I must concur. Contrasting with the Jim Hall “Live” trio recording”, Hall sounds like he is searching for something to play, and Burrell always sounds like he has found it. Both the search and the find are noble pursuits. Having been described as the most elegant by Duke Ellington and the finest by George Benson, Burrell, who once politely refused to give me a private lesson (“I just don’t do that”) has taught me more about music making than he will ever know.


(Bonus Choice) Jimi Hendrix – Axis Bold As Love: Choosing between his debut album, Are You Experienced and second release Axis Bold As Love (both released in 1967) was next to impossible so my coin flip choice (“Axis”) was for it’s time (and even today) mind blowing. Hendrix’s absolutely unique style defys description. This purveyor of psychodelia, blues, rhythm & blues and raunch, all roll into a backdrop for Dylanesque lyrics and suggestive stage antics making him absolutely at the top of rock guitar’s Mount Olympus of his time and without doubt, one of my guitar gods. I will never forget my first Jimi Hendrix “Experience” of hearing “Manic Depression” and being sold on it by note number two. So without further ado, I offer up the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Axis Bold As Love as my allowed bonus choice !


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If you would like to support all the work I do on Jazz Guitar Life, please consider buying me a coffee or visiting the Jazz Guitar Life sponsors. Thank you and your patronage is greatly appreciated regardless if you buy me a coffee or not 🙂

About Lyle Robinson 338 Articles
Lyle Robinson is the owner/creator/publisher and editor of Jazz Guitar Life, an online magazine dedicated to the Jazz Guitar and its community of fine players worldwide.

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