Sam Kirmayer – 5 Desert Island Album Picks

Sam Kirmayer

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 Sam Kirmayer 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) Wes Montgomery and the Wynton Kelly Trio – Smokin at the Half Note: It’s hard to overstate how great this record is. Wes is endlessly inventive and his improvisations are so melodic, they feel inevitable. Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb are of course one of the greatest rhythm sections ever and backed up a lot of soloists, but this really feels like a quartet, there’s such complicity between all the players. This record still knocks me out every time I hear it for me it’s the perfect example of swinging dialogue on the highest level.

2) John Coltrane – Crescent: This is the first band that really got me into jazz and this record in particular made a huge impression — for years after hearing it I carried around a photo of Coltrane in my wallet. The music is so rich and deep, yet there’s an immediacy and emotional candidness that make it so  accessible. I remember a time when I had no idea what was going on but was just floored by the intensity of Trane’s playing. I’ve come back to this record again and again over the years and as my ears have opened up, that initial sense of mystery has faded and yet the music remains some of the most powerfully moving that I’ve ever heard.

3) Horace Silver – The Cape Verdean Blues: Horace Silver is one of my favourite composers and I really love how he incorporated modal and post-bop ideas into his tunes on this record while retaining the essence of what makes his music so great. The frontline of Woody Shaw and Joe Henderson is a perfect fit for the tunes, and Bob Cranshaw and Roger Humphries have a such a great hook-up, plus J.J. Johnson appears on a few tracks which is amazing because aside from him being one of the greats, Silver rarely wrote for sextet and the extra horn allows him to do some really cool things like with the cluster voicings on Nutville. I really wish there were more recordings of this line-up, maybe something will surface someday!

4) Peter Bernstein – Earth Tones: I’m not alone in considering Peter Bernstein one of the greatest to ever play the guitar and his longtime collaborators Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart as the perfect foil. I could have picked any record from their extensive catalogue, but this is the one I listened to the most. Hearing Peter more recently its clear that he has continued to evolve as a player and his playing is more fully realized today than it was on this recording, but somehow this period of his development speaks to me the most.

5) Charlie Parker – Charlie Parker On Dial Vol. 4: All the Dial recordings are great, but this October 28th, 1947 session is my favourite. It features Bird’s  working quintet of the time with Miles, Max, Duke Jordon and Tommy Potter playing really great tunes like Dexterity, Bongo Bop and Dewey Square. Bird’s solo on the second take of Embraceable You is far and away my favourite solo by anyone ever. Just incredibly beautiful, what more can I say?

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About Lyle Robinson 350 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.


    • Thanks for dropping by Alan and checking out Sam’s 5 Desert Island Picks! I’ll let him know you dropped by.

      Take care and all the best.

      Lyle – Jazz Guitar Life

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  1. Gig Review: Montreal Jazz Guitarist Sam Kirmayer With Special Guest David Hazeltine – Jazz Guitar Life

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