Charlie Apicella – 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 Jazz Guitarist Charlie Apicella 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) Yusef Lateef in Nigeria: Yusef Lateef was my first music teacher. Drummers such as Jimi Hendrix’s percussionist Juma Sultan often improvise along with saxophone. Here Yusef composed for the Nigerian drum ensemble and adapted many of their song forms as well as sonata form and his advanced compositional techniques in writing for his solo saxophone and flute. This record is endlessly listenable and enjoyable and the concept and intent behind the music is fascinating.

2) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Yazoo compilation: When I moved to New York I started working with some of the best big bands in town. I learned my Freddie Green bag from my earlier experience playing tenor banjo when I played Ma Raney, Louis Armstrong, and others. One of the most fascinating collaborations in all of music is heard in some of Ma Rainy’s final record dates with the duo of pianist Georgia Tom Dorsey and guitarist Tampa Red. Tampa Red is my favorite blues guitarist and he went on to define the electric Chicago blues style which was later adopted by Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, and others. Georgia Tom Dorsey is renowned for innovating the gospel-blues style of modern gospel music. It is incredible these two young virtuosos worked together accompanying the master herself, Ma Rainey. 

3) Barry Galbraith – Guitar Comping: The first thing that drew me to guitar was the sound of Joe Pass’s walking bassline and chord style. This book by Barry Galbraith was the first jazz guitar method I encountered and it is the basis of my chord vocabulary. This is one of my most enjoyable records to listen to as it gets right to the heart of the matter with Barry’s melodic comping and Milt Hintons’s propulsive basslines.

4) Grant Green – Grantstand: I have spent more time transcribing and learning Grant Green’s approach to guitar and Jack McDuff’s approach to basslines and  blues than any other part of my study of music. Yusef Lateef shared some incredible stories with me about this recording session and his blues voice paired with Grant and McDuff is priceless.

5) Grease n Gravy – Willis Jackson: Iron City’s sixth record features “Brother Elijah” and it has become a staple of our live concerts. Every time I hear 17-year-old Pat Martino’s solos explode out of the speakers I am thrilled. Pat shared some incredibly valuable insights with me during our lessons regarding his early development and life working the Chitlin Circuit. They are conversations I will never forget and listening to this record always brings me back to my time with him.

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