Dan Adler – 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 Dan Adler 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 – Joy Spring: My Desert Island picks are albums I keep going back to and listen to over and over again for decades. The early Joe Pass albums ( “Sounds of Synanon”, “Catch Me”, “For Django”, etc.) shaped my love of jazz guitar. I could hear both the melodic and harmonic logic in Joe’s lines as he tickled my brain and touched my heart. I picked “Joy Spring” because it’s a live recording (1964) which found Joe at his creative peak. On Bird’s “Relaxin’ At Camarillo”, for example, he weaves chorus after chorus of incredible musical ideas, each connected to the next like a puzzle, without resorting to any blues cliches. This level of pure melodic creativity is what keeps drawing me back to this album.


2) The Bob Brookmeyer Small Band with Jack Wilkins: I found this album as a teenager at a discount record store in my hometown of Tel Aviv. I was immersed in bebop and traditional jazz guitar at the time, and this album completely blew away my perception of what is possible on jazz guitar in a horn quartet setting. On this 1978 live recording, everyone plays incredibly, but Jack’s guitar sound and playing is on a heavenly plane that is deep in tradition, yet all his own. After hearing this album over and over I knew I would eventually come to NYC to hear Jack live and study with him, and luckily that’s what happened.


3) Kenny Burrell – Round Midnight: This is the perfect “mood” jazz album for me (along with Pat Martino’s “We’ll Be Together Again” and Jim Hall’s “Where Would I Be”). It sets a mood from the first note, and maintains it throughout the whole album. In this era of short clips and shuffle play, I go back to this album often for a meditative and emotional experience. Every note Kenny plays is masterfully sculpted with a perfect sound, musical logic and deep emotion. Put it on and listen end-to-end. Repeat often.


4) Steve Grossman – Hold The Line: I love all the great jazz sax players, especially the post-Coltrane gang of Brecker, Bergonzi, Liebman, Grossman and many others. After exploring this modern genre with Elvin Jones and others, Steve Grossman (who passed away in 2020) dug back into his mainstream roots and played standards for the rest of his career. I got to meet and play and study with him at that time, and I would never get tired of listening to him in a live setting. On this album of standards he mixes in elements of modernism with his bebop roots while always maintaining his own sound and musical personality. You can hear all the influences in his playing, but you can always tell it’s him.


5) Oscar Peterson – We Get Requests: Oscar Peterson is well known to guitarists for his trios with Herb Ellis and Joe Pass. He is also known for his incredible chops, but I find myself coming back to this gem of an album. The beautiful “You Look Good To Me” starts off with a perfect bass solo by Ray Brown, and then Oscar develops his solo with a light touch that slowly grows in intensity and swing until it gets your whole body moving. There are moments in the album that are borderline “piano bar” music, but Oscar takes that format to a high level of creativity and swing, making it the perfect album for jazz newbies and veterans alike.


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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.


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