Peter Leitch was born August 19, 1944 in Montreal, Canada. He has recorded seventeen albums as a leader and was a sideman with Oscar Peterson, Woody Shaw and Dominique Eade. He performed with Kirk Lightsey, Rufus Reid, Al Grey, Jeri Brown, Pepper Adams and Pete Yellin.
During his career he was nominated for a Juno Award for Best Traditional Jazz Album of the Year. He has written an autobiography, Off the Books, giving a real, raw, look at the life of a musician playing creative music. In addition to his music he became a very talented photographer with a number of exhibitions of his work.
Prior to his retirement due to medical issues on July 21, 2015, guitarist Peter Leitch was an educator who taught privately for a number of years.
More Posts: guitar
Herb Ellis was born Mitchell Herbert Ellis in Farmersville, Texas on August 4, 1921 and raised in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. He first heard the electric guitar performed by George Barnes on a radio program which inspired him to take up the guitar. He became proficient on the instrument by the time he entered North Texas State University, majored in music, but with no guitar program he studied string bass. With a lack of funds he dropped out in 1941 and toured for six months with a band from the University of Kansas.
In 1943, he joined Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra and it was here that he got his first recognition in the jazz magazines. Leaving Gray for the Jimmy Dorsey band, he got his initial opportunities to recorded solos. Ellis remained with Dorsey through 1947, traveling and recording extensively, but with a six-week hole in the schedule, he John Frigo and Lou Carter took a gig in Buffalo that lasted six months and where the group Soft Winds was born he wrote the classic jazz standard Detour Ahead.
The group fashioned themselves after the Nat King Cole Trio. and stayed together until 1952. Herb then replaced Barney Kessel in the Oscar Peterson Trio in 1953. His prominence not only with his performing with the trio alongside Ray Brown until 1958 but also because he was the only white person in the group in a time when racism was still very much widespread.
With the addition of a drummer, the Oscar Peterson Trio, served as the house rhythm section for Norman Granz’s Verve Records. They supported the likes of Ben Webster, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Sweets Edison, Buddy Rich, Lester Young, Benny Carter, Victor Feldman, Mel Brown, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong among numerous others.
The trio were a mainstay of Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts as they swept the jazz world, from 957 to 1960 Ellis toured with Ella Fitzgerald, and along with fellow jazz guitarists Barney Kessel, Charlie Byrd and Tal Farlow, he created another ensemble, the Great Guitars.
In 1994 he was inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame, received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of North Texas College of Music. Guitarist Herb Ellis, released twenty-two albums as a leader before passing away from Alzheimer’s disease at his Los Angeles home on the morning of March 28, 2010, at the age of 88.
More Posts: guitar
Stanley Jordan was born July 31, 1959 in Chicago, Illinois and when he was six, he started on piano, then switched to guitar at eleven. He began his career playing in rock and soul bands, however in 1976, he won an award at the Reno Jazz Festival. AIt was while attending Princeton University that he studied music theory and composition with Milton Babbitt, computer music with Paul Lansky, and performed with Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie.
In 1985, Bruce Lundvall became president of Blue Note Records and Stanley was the first person he signed. They released his album Magic Touch, which sat at No.1 on Billboard ‘s jazz chart for 51 weeks, setting a record. He has worked with Quincy Jones, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Michal Urbaniak, Richie Cole, The Dave Matthews Band, The String Cheese Incident, Phil Lesh, Moe, and with Umphrey’s McGee, among others.
A favorite at festivals he has played Kool Jazz Festival, Concord Jazz Festival, and the Montreux International Jazz Festival to name a few. He has released fourteen albums as a leader, another seventeen across musical genres as a sideman, released three videos, more than a dozen television appearances, has written seven papers and presentations on guitar and technique, and has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award and four Grammy Awards.
Guitarist Stanley Jordan, whose technique involves tapping his fingers on the fretboard of the guitar with both hands, has appeared in the film Blind Date with Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger, has scored short film and tv specials and continues to compose, perform and record.
More Posts: guitar
Joshua Breakstone was born July 22, 1955 in Elizabeth, New Jersey and came into the music business early in life watching Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa at the Fillmore East. He later became interested in jazz through Charlie Parker and Lee Morgan and found himself studying with guitarist Sal Salvador in Manhattan. By 1972 he was enrolled at the New College of the University of South Florida, graduated three years later and continued his studies at Berklee College of Music.
A move to Brazil for a few months brought him back to New York City to perform and teach. Joshua also taught privately and at the Rhode Island Conservatory of Music. In 1979, he recorded with Canadian saxophonist Glen Hall, with Joanne Brackeen, Cecil McBee, and Billy Hart participating and also worked with Vinnie Burke, Warne Marsh, Emily Remler, and Aaron Bell.
1983 saw Breakstone releasing his debut album, 4/4=1, followed by four more albums from 1986 to 1990 on the Contemporary Records label, with sidemen Pepper Adams, Kenny Barron, Dennis Irwin, Jimmy Knepper, Tommy Flanagan, Keith Copeland and Kenny Washington. He went on his first tour of Japan and has since played twice a year in Japan and has worked with Terumasa Hino, Monkey Kobayashi, and Eiji Nakamura.
Beginning in the Nineties he signed a contract with the Japanese label King Records, released four albums, moved to Evidence Records and worked with Grant Green sidemen organist Jack McDuff and the drummer Al Harewood, and recorded Sittin’ on the Thing with Ming on the Capri label in 1994. He would go on to record tribute albums to Thelonious Monk, Wes Montgomery, and Bud Powell. His latest album in 88 recorded in 2016. Guitarist joshua Breakstone, who has nearly two dozen albums as a leader to his credit, continues to compose, record and perform.
More Posts: guitar
Randy Bernsen was born on July 15, 1954 in Needham, Massachusetts. He began his professional career in the mid-1970s , playing guitar with local groups. He collaborated with the rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears on their 1977 tour, where he was second guitarist alongside Mike Stern until he left the band.
Randy went on to work with Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, Bob James and Peter Erskine. His debut album as a leader came in the form of Music for Planets, People & Washing Machines on the MCA , label in 1986, that received critical acclaim from Down Beat and Guitar Player.
1987 saw Bernsen releasing his sophomore project Mo ‘Wasabi with Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker, Marcus Miller, Steve Gadd, Toots Thielemans and Bobby Economou supporting his effort. Once again he received great praise from among others, JazzIn and USA Today. His third MCA project however did not hold up to the standard.
Spending some time touring Asia and composing TV music, he settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and then joined Joe Zawinul’s band in 1992, replacing Scott Henderson. This move gave him the opportunity to record of Zawinul Syndicate’s Lost Tribes album.
Picking up a house gig at a Fort Lauderdale club resulted in Bernsen’s next CD in 1997 titled Live at Tavern 213, that featured excellent improvisation by the guitarist, bassist Pete Sebastian and drummer John Yarling. This led to a Mexico tour in 1998 with violinist/vocalist Nicole Yarling, saxophonist Richard Brookens, bassist Javier Carrion, and drummer Archie Pena that ultimately yielded Bernsen’s 2001 CD Live in San Miguel de Allande. Performing with his own band, recording 6 albums as a bandleader, guitarist Randy Bernsen continues to pursue his music career.
More Posts: guitar