Adam Smale – 5 Desert Island Album Picks

Photo credit - Jimmy Katz

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 Adam Smale 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) 🙂


Narrowing it down to 5 albums is really hard. Because this is Jazz Guitar Life, I decided to choose 5 guitar-centric albums. If it were 10 albums, Tal Farlow, pianist Bill Evans, Cannon Ball Adderly, Joe Henderson, and Charlie Parker would certainly be in there, too.

Adam Smale

1) Lenny Breau – Live at Bourbon St.: I would be remiss if I didn’t include one of my biggest influences, Lenny Breau. Live at Bourbon St. is a duo setting with bassist Dave Young. The interplay between them is incredible. It’s as if their minds were directly connected. And because it’s a duo, you can hear very clearly what Lenny is playing. His ideas are flowing, and he takes you on a journey–sound-paintings you could say–with each solo. And Dave Young is right there with him.

2) Lorne Lofsky – Lorne Lofsky: Lorne Lofsky’s self-titled album is one of my favorites. He’s been a huge influence on me as well. I used to check out Lorne playing live all the time in Toronto, having lived there myself for 20 years. Even if I could only listen to the first track, All of You, I would be happy. To me it has become the quintessential version. There is so much tasty playing and ridiculous phrasing on it. It’s a feast for the ears. You just want to keep putting it on repeat. And like Lenny (and myself included), Lorne plays with a thumbpick and fingers. Every jazz guitarist should have this album.

3) Jim Hall – Live!: Jim Hall, Live is an album that makes it to a lot of guitarists’ lists. His playing on this album is fiery and just so “on.” He is backed up by Don Thompson on bass and Terry Clarke on drums. I was fortunate to play with Don and Terry separately a couple of times. Like on this album, it was always like riding on a cushion of beautiful time and sonic support. Jim is the father of  modern jazz guitar in my opinion. This album is proof that. You can also hear what Jim is playing very clearly on this recording as well. Top song on this album for me is I Hear A Rhapsody.

4) Paul Desmond – Pure Desmond: Paul Desmond’s album Pure Desmond is also a trio setting and features another big influence on my playing, Ed Bickert. Paul Desmond seems to give the spotlight over to Ed it seems, featuring him so much so that you almost could assume, “Is this Ed’s album featuring Paul Desmond?” It’s a masterclass in playing hip, tasty, clear, bluesy lines, all while effortlessly voice leading chords during his own solos as well as supporting the other cast members, too. I break down Ed’s solo on Just Squeeze Me from this album on my YouTube channel. (

5) Kurt Rosenwinkel – Next Step: I would further be remiss to leave out Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Next Step. Some may be put off by this, but I believe Kurt will go down in the history books as being someone who has influenced a generation of guitarists—and generations to come—not seen since Wes Montgomery. Not only is Kurt’s playing incredible on this album, but his writing is fantastic as well. There’s no seemingly throw-away tracks. Every song is a well-composed gem. His solos seamlessly melt bebop with a unique, fresh, and modern approach that epitomizes Kurt’s sound. This is my favorite period of Kurt’s, and it catapulted him into the annals of jazz history.

You can reach out to Adam at:

YT: (Jazz Rocks with Adam)


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About Lyle Robinson 265 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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