10 Jan

Five Jazz Guitarists That Changed the World!

As Jazz emerged as a musical force in the early 20th century, few have left their mark on the in the guitar world as these following virtuosos.

Wes Montgomery with a Gibson L5 semi acoustic guitar1. Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery’s innovative style and virtuosity was the influence of multiple contemporary guitarists including Jimi Hendrix. A virtuoso among virtuoso, Montgomery’s command of the instrument has not been matched. His most notable technique was the use of octaves.

Although his recordings with Riverside records are considered his most “pure” works, he obtained commercial success with his later adoption of string accompaniment. Montgomery’s influence is widespread, as his tone is considered standard amongst guitarists.

2. Django Reinhardt

The legendary Romanian has inspired countless guitarists. Despite a debilitating accident, which left his hand permanently injured, Django persevered to bring unmatched innovation to the instrument with his unique gypsy style. Performing with renowned jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong, Django will forever be known as one of the most prolific artists ever to pick up a guitar.

3. Pat Metheny

Incorporating tones from rock, Pat Metheny sonic palate is among the most versatile of all guitarists. He was one of the first jazz guitarists to utilize the Roland synthesizer, although only accessing a small number of the sounds contained in the unit. Metheny was greatly influenced by Wes Montgomery in the early years but cites many surprising inspirations, which affected his style, many coming from non-jazz acts such as The Beatles and James Taylor.

Joe Pass from New Jersey4. Joe Pass

A master of the walking bassline as well as a wizard of chord inversions, Joe pass redefined the instrument in his era. Pass cultivated a heavily refined styling of guitar tone, partly attributed to his abandonment of the guitar pick in favor of fingerstyle playing, which provided higher harmonic expression. Pass began his training when he was 14 on a $17 guitar, and overcame a battle of drug addiction to emerge as one of the major figures in the genre. Great contemporary artists such as George Benson use the Ibanez Joe Pass model guitar to this day.

5. Charlie Christian

The first major star of electric guitar, Charlie Christian stands a pioneer among pioneers. The Oklahoma City son broke new ground with his creative solo style which highlighted the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument, a precursor to solo electric guitarists of every genre. He is highly regarded as a significant influence on the development of the bebop genre.

Although many guitarists have enriched the history of the jazz genre, the above five virtuosos have proven themselves as timeless figures that have permanently left their mark on not only the jazz world but popular music in general!

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3 Dec

16 Weeks on the Jazz Week Charts

Thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of “Eastern Standard Time.” The CD’s been doing very well and spent 16 weeks on the JazzWeek charts this summer, including several weeks in the top 10! If you’re waiting to get one, now’s your chance – they make a great holiday gift!

I got back from the University of North Texas 2 weeks ago where I had the honor of conducting the 1990’s alumni band at a concert honoring Neil Slater and Jim Riggs. A beautiful event and a great hang. I also had the opportunity to teach a couple of arranging classes and hear the One O’Clock play through 4 recent charts of mine. What an amazing band! The band’s latest CD is out – Lab 2008. Buy a copy, and make sure you read the liner notes! (Another honor.)

There’s more writing ahead for me, including charts for Alfred, Walt Whitman HS, Walter Johnson HS, Howard University, George Mason University, Bobby Shew, Nenna Freelon, Dave Leibman, Gabriel Espinosa, Don Junker, and of course the Airmen of Note.

Thanks for checking in, and feel free to drop me a note here or on my new Facebook page! With much appreciation, -Alan

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24 Jan

New York on my Mind

Sorry it’s been too long! 2005 closed out with new music written for Phil Woods & the Capitol Quartet, Pat Martino, Tierney Sutton, Rachael Price, Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra, US Army Jazz Knights, Howard University, and Central College in Iowa (It was a busy couple of months!).

In New York earlier this month, I heard one of the most stunning performances of my life. John Hollenbeck and Big Band Graz. Absolutely beautiful music. I just finished a new piece for the great Walt Whitman H.S. Jazz Ensemble, and I think a little bit of the freedom and elasticity of that music rubbed off on me!

Lots of exciting things ahead in the near future including more commissions, and guest artist/meet the composer appearances in Kansas and Arizona. Look for a new ABJO project soon also!

Best wishes to all, and please keep in touch! -Alan

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“Alan Baylock has achieved a goal that many artists aspire to, but often fail to reach: he has developed his own distinct sound as a composer. His writing is fresh, and is imbued with a great sense of spirit and fun.”
– Gordon Goodwin (Grammy & Emmy award winning composer/bandleader)

Profile Pic Alan

“Baylock goes beyond the pale and creates moods and textures which challenge a big band to be on their best behavior. I have the highest regard for his writing.” – David Liebman