David O’Rourke – 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 International Jazz Guitarist David O’Rourke 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) Out On His Own – Louis Stewart (Livia Records):
Solo guitar with some overdubbed rhythm tracks on an album that has a very special atmosphere about it. It has groove, sensitivity, chops, fire and in short inspired me to follow this life I lead. I remember the day my Dad said we were going ‘to town’ (into Dublin City) to buy the album, and then sitting together listening to it, shaking our heads at the absolute mastery of…one of our own!


2) Pat Martino – We’ll Be Together Again (Muse): On each an every ballad, no matter how busy he might get, Pat Martino is singing on this album and it’s coming right from his heart. In “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, bar lines just seem to cease to exist as Pat’s expression shows the true meaning of poetry. “Lament”, his sound and execution on the melody is so beautiful. The album opens with “Open Road: Lee/Variations and Song/Open Road” and to me the composition style was as unique as his highly individualized language as a guitarist. Years later Pat told me that he was plugged in direct to the desk, playing an L5 Solid and the producer had fallen asleep, so he and Gil just picked tunes. Gil Goldstein plays the most minimal accompaniment on the ballads with absolutely exquisite voicings at all times on the Rhodes.


3) Frank Sinatra – In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning (Capitol): The deep expression of Sinatra’s broken heart through music along with the masterful arranging of Nelson Riddle, with his unique sounding thumbprint whether it be orchestral writing or big band groove, make this a favorite of mine. Listen to Nelson’s beautiful arrangement of “I Get Along Without You Very Well” and how his intro provides a contrast to the song it is setting up. Nelson uses a voicing in this arrangement that when stacked is a vertical rendition of the opening of Appalachian Spring. The counter line, which exemplifies how Nelson treats the vocalist/soloist as the cactus firmus, is so beautiful and unusual at the same time. The chromatic movement of the upper structure triads all contribute to the harrowing heartbreak of the lyric. The same depth of despair is present on “When Your Lover Has Gone”. I love the verse as much as the chorus and this has a very dark Riddle intro. The title track is so beautiful and you can pretty much randomly select any song and be transfixed by it’s beauty.


4) Gotham City – Dexter Gordon (Columbia) featuring George Benson, Woody Shaw, Cedar Walton, Percy Heath and Art Blakey: I still remember the night Stephen Keogh, the great drummer I came up playing with in Dublin came around to a gig Louis Stewart was playing in Malahide Yacht Club 🙂 (a sampling of his collaborations include Bill Charlap, Pete King, Brad Mehldau, Charles McPherson and more too numerous to mention). Stephen had just heard a burning version of “Blues Walk” featuring George Benson on this album and hit record on my cassette deck. For years that was all I had, along with Randy Weston’s HiFly. I used to play along with as much as I could of George’s solo but overtime I learned off of Cedar Walton’s solos and Woody Shaw’s as well. Groove and a lesson in comping from both George and Cedar! Years later it was a huge thrill for me to work with Cedar two years in a row in Cork, four gigs each year. The second year we had Jackie McLean!


5) Wes Montgomery – So Much Guitar (Riverside): I fell in love with “Twisted Blues” right away. I was new to jazz so “Cottontail” took me a minute but the ballads “I Wish I Knew”, “While We Were Young” and a version of “One For My Baby” that takes the blues approach to a broken heart while Sinatra’s more famous version (also beautiful) takes the saloon singer’s approach, cocktail on hand when needed. I loved the melody and Wes’s groove on “I’m Just A Lucky So And So” – it was so catchy and easy to digest for a kid coming out of listening to Paul McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway! This was one of the first albums I bought so it got played over and over and to this day it can transport me back to days when playing this music was a dream yet not achieved. I can’t imagine how my younger self would have reacted if I could go back and tell the kid from Malahide that he would one day not only play with many of these great musicians but become friends and have dinner with them and hear great stories of some of these recordings from the inside. Years later Boss Guitar would have a deeper impact on me, but I have chosen this one because of it’s role in my earliest years.


(Bonus Choice) John Field,The Complete Nocturnes – Mícéal O’Rourke (Chandos) / John Field, 15 Nocturnes – John O’Conor (Telarc): Performed by Micael O’Rourke (no relation) and if I get away with it I’ll sneak the disc from John O’Conor’s recordings of the same music. Years ago when living E15th Street, not having enough money to go out to clubs I used to listen, with great national pride to these two wonderful Irish pianists play the collection of Nocturnes by an Irish composer, the man who invented the Nocturne – John Field. Field came after Beethoven and Mozart but before Chopin and Liszt (the most popular edition of his Nocturnes feature editing and fingering by Franz Liszt!) I loved to “A-B” the versions and interpretations of each Nocturne. John O’Conor who had won the Beethoven competition treated them like ‘Late Beethoven’. This was most notable in tempo choices and execution and interpretation of the ornamentation in the music. Micael O’Rourke who, in turn, was the Gold Medalist in the Chopin Competition, treats them like they were ‘early Chopin’. Again, the ornamentation is executed with such a beautiful rubato that when I first had the privilege of speaking to Micael, when he was on a US visit to perform the Kennedy Center I told him “I’ve been lying about being related to you for years because of that beautiful rubato of yours!” I could happily spend hours listening to these Nocturnes which are such a historic part of piano history. Field wanted to write a very singable melody with a broken chord accompaniment that spanned more than an octave, thereby making extensive use of the relatively new technical advancement of the ‘sustain’ pedal on the piano. Chopin’s Eb Nocturne is so closely modeled after Field’s it comes close to what we in the jazz world refer to as ‘contract’!


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If you would like to support all the work I do on Jazz Guitar Life, please consider buying me a coffee or visiting the Jazz Guitar Life sponsors. Thank you and your patronage is greatly appreciated regardless if you buy me a coffee or not 🙂

About Lyle Robinson 347 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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