Dan Heck – 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 Naples, Florida Jazz Guitarist Dan Heck 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) Joe Pass – Portraits of Duke Ellington: I love Joe Pass. I could pretty much put any Joe Pass record in my top five and be okay with it. I learned so much about the Bebop language and jazz guitar from him. But for me this record has the perfect combination of fantastic compositions, because they’re all by Duke Ellington, incredible chord playing, which is always the case with Joe Pass, and wonderful single line playing over these great tunes. There’s also the presence of Ray Brown and Bobby Durham making this record an absolute gem and a perfect example of Joe Pass’ genius.


2) Wes Montgomery – Live at the Half Note: You know a record has had a big impact on you when you see it on former students top five list all the time and that’s the case with this record.  If the entire record was just the first cut of him playing over no blues, it wouldn’t leave anybody’s list including mine. It is quite simply the greatest example of building a solo, use of octaves, use of rhythmic motifs in improvising, and just the flat out swinging genius of Wes Montgomery. 


3) Pat Martino – El Hombre: I love this record. Every single thing about it I love. I love the tunes. I love all the different grooves and vibes that happen. But most importantly this is Pat Martino’s brilliance on full display. He is so fiery, while also being so creative and so swinging, I just can’t imagine playing jazz guitar any better than that. It is certainly very much in the Pat Martino style, so if he can feel notey to you this record is not going to change your opinion. But for me this is just a flat out tour de force of jazz guitar on a level most of us can only dream of.


4) Kurt Rosenwinkle – The Enemies of Energy: I love the way Kurt is playing at this time. I love all the records from this period but this is probably my favorite. His improvising is coming from such a different place than the traditional jazz guitarists, but you can still hear those guys in his playing. He’s such a creative musician, from the compositions, to the soloing, to his unique guitar sound. I really feel like Kurt developed his own thing in a way that very few musicians ever do, really found his own voice. And I for one absolutely love that voice, and over the years I find myself going back to his recordings from the late 90s and early 2000s and really appreciating them more and more. 


5) Pat Metheny – Rejoicing (also Question and Answer): Pat Metheny’s trio recordings, particularly Rejoicing and Question and Answer are for my money some of the most important jazz guitar records of the last 40 years. I know it’s kind of cliche for the modern jazz guitar player to claim Pat as an influence, but I don’t care. He has his own thing, it’s great, it’s really well thought out, and these two records show his brilliance in a way that nothing else he did quite does for me. I love a few solos on Rejoicing more than any solos Pat has ever played, but Question and Answer record really changed the way I thought about jazz guitar and I remember at Berklee, walking by guitar practice rooms and just hearing everybody transcribe “Solar” and “All The Things You Are” off that record. They meant so much to us, the young jazz guitar players of the ’90s, and again while that might be a tiny bit cliche you cannot minimize his importance in terms of the way jazz guitar changed after Pat. 


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About Lyle Robinson 353 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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