The guitarists I selected below have had a fundamental influence in my playing. I consider them milestones of jazz guitar history and evolution, both past and present. Picking just one favorite track per guitarist is very difficult, so without any specific criteria, I chose the ones I listened to the most while growing up.
Wes Montgomery Trio
A Dynamic New Sound (Riverside, 1959)
I think that the title of the album was right on! It was the first time I heard Wes and the organ used outside of classical or religious music. The sound of this trio was an inspiration for all guitar/organ trios to come: warm, mysterious and swinging. Wes’ solo on this track is basically a jazz guitar dictionary.
“Things Ain’t What They Used to Be”
Jazz Guitar (Pacific Jazz, 1957)
I think this was Jim Hall’s debut album as a leader. Beside the perfect interplay between guitar, piano and bass, Jim’s playing on this blues tune is a big lesson on how less sometimes is more!
Virtuoso (Pablo, 1973)
After listening to this recording, I realized for the first time that a guitar could actually sound like a mini-piano and a horn at the same time. Joe Pass’ contribution to jazz guitar is colossal.
“On Green Dolphin Street”
We Will Meet Again (Ram, 1992)
Joe is the most underrated guitar master of our time. In this very popular standard tune, his unique phrasing and harmonic vocabulary make it very refreshing and modern.
Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Roy Haynes
Question and Answer (Geffen, 1989)
In the company of this stellar rhythm section, Pat makes this old tune totally his, showcasing his unique signature phrasing at its best. Pat Metheny’s body of work to date and his innovation in jazz guitar is simply monumental.
“Honest I Do”
Grace Under Pressure (Blue Note, 1992)
This is one my favorite Scofield albums. This particular track really struck me for its beautiful melody and having Bill Frisell on it adds a magical element. John’s minimalistic solo speaks straight to your heart.
“Like Someone in Love”
Standards and Other Songs (Atlantic, 1992)
Even if Mike is always associated with so-called fusion, this track clearly shows how much jazz guitar tradition he owns in his vocabulary combined with a unique sound. Also his rock ‘n’ roll attitude in jazz guitar makes him one of a kind.
Noon Too Soon (Polydor, 1996)
In this rare recording of this standard jazz tune, Allan shows how much Coltrane there is in his playing. No other guitarist has ever gotten closer than him in resembling the Coltrane “sheets of sound.”
Guitarist Fabrizio Sotti will release his new album, Right Now, on May 14. Check out the electronic press kit here.