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Overdue Ovation: Steve Cardenas

Always himself, in any context

Steve Cardenas, Ben Allison and Jenny Scheinman (from left) at Winter Jazz Fest 2012
Steve Cardenas

Munching on an omelet at a diner in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, Steve Cardenas rattles off a list of his favorite guitarists. “Well, if you want to start from the beginning, Steve Howe from Yes!” he laughs. “Joe Walsh from the James Gang, Hendrix, Jimmy Page, all that stuff.” Getting into jazz, he waxes rhapsodic about Jim Hall. “But I love John McLaughlin. I love Pat Martino. I love everybody you can think of. They all have spoken to or continue to speak to me in some manner.

“And then also everybody that you’ve never heard of. How many gigs have I been to where I heard the person play something and gone, ‘Oh, I would have never thought of that! That’s so cool!’? That’s happened so many times. That’s really the magic of music that sometimes doesn’t get spoken.”

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