Archive for great jazz guitarists

“Under The Radar” Jazz Guitarists – Part I

Posted in Under The Radar with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2013 by curtjazz

Ed CherryIt’s been a few weeks since our last “Under The Radar” post, for various reasons, none of which really matter to most people. So let’s fire it up again with a quartet of great jazz guitarists that deserve more recognition than they get. There will be a Part 2 as there are quite a few guitarists that I want to pull your coat about. As always, they are in alphabetical order:

Ron Affif

Born in Pittsburgh, Mr. Affif was a student of the great Joe Pass and the son of a well-respected middleweight boxer, who passed along to his son his love of jazz. Mr. Affif, who now calls Brooklyn home, released five strong albums for Pablo Records during the ’90’s. My personal favorites are Ringside and 52nd Street. Most times he works in the trio (guitar, bass, drums) format, which leaves ample room for his creativity.  He still presides over Monday nights at the Zinc Bar in Greenwich Village; as good a reason as any to check it out.

Sheryl Bailey

Another Pittsburgh native (there must be something in the water there that produces great jazz guitarists), Ms. Bailey constantly finds herself being compared to Emily Remler, the patron saint of female jazz guitarists. To take nothing away from the late Ms. Remler, of whom I’m also a fan (as is Ms. Bailey), I think that Ms. Bailey is better. For my money Sheryl has a slightly better sense of swing and a warmer tone but why quibble, just love them both. Her last two albums A New Promise and For All Those Living have been on Curt’s Cafe’s Best Jazz Albums lists in their respective release years.  According to her website, Ms. Bailey has a new trio album coming out soon. Be on the lookout!

Roni Ben-Hur

Born in Israel and now based in New Jersey, Roni Ben-Hur fell in love with the recordings of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green Kenny Burrell and Jim Hall at a young age. He was also a fan of the great classical guitarist Andres Segovia. After moving to New York in the mid ’80’s, Mr. Ben-Hur was exposed to the music of Baden Powell, the great Brazilian guitarist. Having all of those influences turned Ben-Hur into a musician with a sound that is strikingly lyrical, yet he swings as hard as anyone on the scene today. In New York Ben-Hur came under the tutelage of the great bop pianist Barry Harris, learning many priceless musical lessons during his time in Harris’ band. He is passing on what he has learned through jazz camps that Ben-Hur and his wife, vocalist Amy London, conduct around the world. Though his recorded work has been uniformly excellent, I recommend 2007’s Keepin’ It Open and 2012’s Our Thing, with Duduka Da Fonseca and Santi Debriano as the best of the best.

Ed Cherry

Musicians dig Ed Cherry. It’s time for the public to join in on the praise. This New Haven native first garnered attention during the decade-plus that he spent with Dizzy Gillespie, performing in the legend’s small group and big bands. Mr. Cherry then struck out on his own releasing his first recoding as leader, First Take in 1993. Over the last twenty years, Cherry has lent his blues drenched sound to albums by Big John Patton, Henry Threadgill, Paquito D’Rivera, Hamiet Bluiett and many others. Whatever he plays, Cherry’s lines are clean and soulful, with a sound that makes you give up that audible “Yeah!”.  HIs third date as a leader, 2001’s The Spirits Speak, on Justin Time and his most recent, 2012’s It’s All Good on Posi-Tone are still in print and available. Get them while you can.

As always, we encourage you to support the music of any of the artists that you like in this post by buying their CDs or legal digital downloads.  Or even better if they come to your area, go out and see them live and then buy their music.

More to come soon. Until then, the jazz continues…

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