Ronny Jordan was born Robert Lawrence Albert Simpson on November 29, 1962 in London, England. His debut release in 1992 The Antidote gained critical acclaim but he truly came to prominence after being featured on Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1, released in 1993. Following this release his recordings were all featured on the Billboard charts.
He was also one of the artists whose recordings are featured on the 1994 compilation album Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool to benefit the Red Hot Organization. Jordan’s song The Jackal from his 1993 album The Quiet Revolution gained wide notoriety when actress Allison Janney in the role of C. J. Cregg lip-synched it in The West Wing episode “Six Meetings Before Lunch” and also on the Arsenio Hall Show in 2013.
Ronny recorded nine albums as a leader and contributed to four more as a sideman, was the recipient of the MOBO Best Jazz Act Award, the Gibson Guitar Best Jazz Guitarist Award, and his 2000 release, A Brighter Day, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.
Guitarist Ronny Jordan passed away on January 13, 2014. He was known for blending jazz with hip-hop and R&B in his playing and composing and by the end of the twentieth century he was an integral part of the acid jazz movement.
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Jean-Paul Bourelly was born November 23, 1960 in Chicago, Illinois to American and Haitian parents. He sang at the Lyric Opera when he was ten years old and learned piano and drums, picking up guitar by age 14. When he was nineteen he moved to New York City and began his career playing with Muhal Richard Abrams, Roy Haynes, McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Jones.
In 1984 Jean-Paul landed a role in the Francis Ford Coppola film The Cotton Club, three years later released his debut solo album, and played with Miles Davis in 1988. Not limited to jazz he has branched out into rock music, catching the attention of the Black Rock Coalition, founded by Vernon Reid of Living Colour. He has spent time playing with Buddy Miles, Robin Trower, Jack Bruce, Terry Bozzio, and Matalex.
Bourelly has performed and recorded with Cassandra Wilson on several of her albums, as well as with Mike Ellis, Charles & Eddie, and Craig Harris among others, and is a member of the Stone Raiders and Blackstone Riders bands. He has released a dozen albums that have found their most success in Japan. Jazz fusion and blues rock guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly continues to perform, record and tour.
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Gary Potter was born on November 15, 1965, Liverpool, Lancashire, England. Taking up guitar in his youth, he was playing in country music bands at the age of 12. He had a spell in the USA, drawing approving attention in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Drawing inspiration from early rock ‘n’ roll before becoming interested in jazz, Gary especially admired and influenced by the playing of Django Reinhardt. He has had numerous outspoken admirers of his playing including fellow guitarists Chet Atkins and George Harrison.
By the early 1990s, Potter became best known for his jazz work and in 1994 came second in the guitar section of the British Jazz Awards. He also appeared in the television documentary, The Django Legacy, worked with guitarist Nils Solberg, bass player Andy Crowdy and violinist Christian Garrick. In addition to performing, guitarist Gary Potter composes, arranges and records, while also teaching internationally.
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Philip Catherine was born on October 27, 1942 in London, England to English/Belgian parents and a grandfather who was first violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra. Having an ear for music early on, he picked up the guitar after hearing George Brassens and began listening to jazz.
He soon got the opportunity to play with some of those musicians when performing in Belgium, where he was residing at the time. In the 1960s he was a member of the Jean-Luc Ponty Quintet and during this period he was at the forefront on the European jazz scene performing and recording with Lou Bennett, Billy Brooks, Edgar Bateman, John Lee, Gerry Brown, Larry Coryell, Alphonse Mouzon, Charlie Mariano, Kenny Drew and Tom Harrell, among others.
Recording his debut solo album Stream in 1971 for Warner Bros. Records, the following year Philip collaborated with John Scofield, Ran Blake, George Benson and other musicians in Boston, Massachusetts. By early 1976 he replaced Jan Akkerman in the Dutch rock group Focus, recording on one album Focus con Proby, featuring American singer P. J. Proby.
The 1980s Catherine played extensively with the Chet Baker Trio and is featured on several of Baker’s albums. He went on to play with Charles Mingus, who dubbed him “Young Django”, as well as collaborations with Dexter Gordon, Richard Galliano, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Stéphane Grappelli, Toots Thielemans, Robert Wyatt, Klaus Doldinger, Buddy Guy, Karin Krog, Carla Bley, Mike Mantler and Joachim Kühn as well as others too numerous to list.
He won the first Belgian Golden Django in 1995 and is considered the grandfather of Belgian jazz for his approach, sound, emotional lyricism and expression that is both important and influential. Guitarist Philip Catherine continues to perform on the now very active Belgian jazz scene as well as record and tour worldwide.
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Barney Kessel was born on October 17, 1923 in Muskogee, Oklahoma and began his career as a teenager touring with local dance bands. When he was 16, he started playing with the Oklahoma A & M band, Hal Price & the Varsitonians. It was here that his band mates lovingly nicknamed him “Fruitcake” because he would practice up to 16 hours a day.
Moving on to bands such as that led by Chico Marx, he quickly established himself as a key post-Charlie Christian jazz guitarist. In 1944 he participated in the film Jammin’ the Blues that featured Lester Young, and by 1947 he was recording with Charlie Parker’s New Stars on the Relaxin’ at Camarillo session for Dial Records.
Known for his innovative work in the guitar trio setting, in the 1950s, he made a series of albums called The Poll Winners with Ray Brown on bass and drummer Shelly Manne. He was also the guitarist on the 1955 Julie London album Julie Is Her Name, which includes the million-selling standard Cry Me a River and features a guitar part from Kessel which illustrates his melodic chordal approach in a minimal jazz group. During the 1950s he released three Kessel Plays Standards volumes containing some of his most polished work.
Barney was a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio with Brown for a year, leaving in 1953 and turning the chair over to Herb Ellis. He went on to play with Sonny Rollins in the late 1950s and recorded the Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders album. A first call guitarist at Columbia Pictures during the 1960s, he became one of the most in-demand session guitarists in America, and is considered a key member of the group of first-call session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew. In this capacity he played outside the jazz genre on hundreds of pop recordings, including albums and singles by Phil Spector, The Beach Boys, The Monkees and many others.
He appeared in an acting part playing a jazz guitarist named “Barney” in one episode of the Perry Mason TV show. He wrote and arranged the source music for the jazz combo, including a jazz version of Here Comes the Bride that was featured in the story. He played Mr. Spock’s theme on bass, which first appeared in the Star Trek episode Amok Time.
During the 1970s, Kessel put on his educator hat and presented his seminar The Effective Guitarist in various locations around the world. During this decade he performed extensively with Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd as The Great Guitars.
Guitarist Barney Kessel was rated the No. 1 guitarist in Esquire, DownBeat, and Playboy magazine polls between 1947 and 1960. In 1961 The Gibson Guitar Corporation introduced The Barney Kessel model guitar onto the market and continued to make them until 1973. Having been in poor health after suffering a stroke in 1992, he passed away of a brain tumor at his home in San Diego, California on May 6, 2004 at the age of 80.
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