Bay Area jazz icons: The guitar heroes

David Becker - AXS Contributor
By: AXS Contributor Sep 2, 2014
290426 475086 16541761 8 y2014m09d02

New Orleans gave birth to jazz and New York turned it into a business and art form. But the Bay Area has also played an important role in the growth and diversity of jazz. Join us as we give a tip of the old porkpie hat to the artists who helped define a West Coast idiom of jazz and continue to make the Bay Area a fertile, vibrant ground for musical exploration.

This week, we give a tip of the old porkpie hat to the string-bending crowd. While the guitar is more associated with rock, folk, blues and other traditions, it has a noble history in jazz, from the swinging gypsy jazz stylings of Django Reinhardt to the Americana-tinged picked of Bill Frisell. These Bay Area pickers honor tradition while exploring new territories:

  • Hristo Vitchev
    Guitar solos can easily turn into a platform for showboating, but not for Hristo Vitchev, a nimble player much more concerned with telling a
    hristovitchev.com

    Guitar solos can easily turn into a platform for showboating, but not for Hristo Vitchev, a nimble player much more concerned with telling a story than showing off. The Bulgarian native relocated to the Bay Area several years ago and has steadily built a reputation as a modern jazz player of considerable depth and range whose original compositions bear intriguing traces of his Eastern European roots. Working with kindred spirits such as pianist Weber Iago and vibist Christian Tamburr, he's built an impressive catalog of recordings that provide eloquently narrated trips into the unknown.

  • Mimi Fox
    Guitar hero status in rock and other genres is a decidedly macho affair, but results matter more in jazz, where few string-benders are as ad
    Daren Cornell

    Guitar hero status in rock and other genres is a decidedly macho affair, but results matter more in jazz, where few string-benders are as admired and sought-after as a collabortor than the Bay Area’s Mimi Fox. An astonishingly agile and melodic player, Fox seamlessly incrporates foundational elements such as Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery and goes on to develop a mature style all her own. She’s played with an intriguingly disparate mix of jazz icons, ranging from fellow guitar luminaries (Charlie Byrd, Stanley Jordan) to organ trios (Joey DeFrancesco, Dr. Lonnie Smith) and polished vocalists (Abbey Lincoln, Diana Krall). But she’s at her most impressive taking the lead, carefully molding her wide-ranging interests into a gloriously unified voice.

  • Ray Obiedo
    Ray Obiedo is one hard cat to pin down. A child of the Sixties influenced by the rock foment happening in San Franisco, the guitarist went o
    rayobiedo.com

    Ray Obiedo is one hard cat to pin down. A child of the Sixties influenced by the rock foment happening in San Franisco, the guitarist went on to make music decidedly different from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. He's been at various times a straight-ahead jazz player, an R&B cat and an influential New Age/contemporary jazz player recording for the Windham Hill label during its heyday. For our money, however, Obiedo is at his considerable best in a Latin jazz setting, where he gets to marry his sturdy rhythmic instincts with his lyrical improvisational style. Catch him leading his own Latin-spiced group or backing kindred spirits such as Roger Glenn and Pete Escovedo.

  • Terrence Brewer
    Wes Montgomery, one of jazz’s original guitar heros, was an obvious starting point for East Bay guitar wizard Terrence Brewer. But just a st
    David Becker

    Wes Montgomery, one of jazz’s original guitar heros, was an obvious starting point for East Bay guitar wizard Terrence Brewer. But just a starting point, as the amazingly articulate and energetic player has gone on to forge a distinctly personal voice. A remarkably busy presence on the Bay Area club scene, you’ll most often catch Brewer as a purveyor of insistently groove-based club jazz or a melodic adapter of Latin jazz idioms.

Sponsor
In this article
Topics:
Artists:
Sponsor

Sign up for our weekly event guide email.

Be the first to know. Get personalized event announcements, updates, and reviews every week with the AXS.com event guide email.

Privacy Policy