As a guitarist, when I think of my favourite Jazz musicians, I lean towards Django Rheinhart or Grant Green. But, when it comes to people who have influenced my playing directly (in person), I can credit a handful of very intimate performances for influencing my playing style.
The first recollection was in a Thai restaurant in London. I remember being in this tiny venue, on a warm, sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The performer was a lone Jazz Guitarist with an amp and a loop pedal.
The cafe was small, but full of people milling around talking. There was a birthday party in the back and people sitting enjoying great food, with the aroma of coffee and Thai spices swirling around.
Then, without any big opening, or announcement, the guitarist started to play a Jazz bass line on his hollow body electric guitar for what I can only assume must have been 12 bars and then simultaneously stamping on his pedal and starting to comp his own bass line for the next 12 bars, and again after he laid that down, he continued to add layers, and depth to his track.
The room remained pretty much the same, people milling about, food being served, customers talking and laughing. Everything was the same but me… I was hypnotised by this guy and what he was doing with his guitar. After about 10 minutes, I realised that I had not spoken to anybody for the whole time he was playing. It was so rich and melodic. I didn’t know that one person could produce such a polished sound from just one instrument.
It was an experience that changed my music tastes forever…
There have been a few other experiences which have had similar impacts, but I credit that one experience for guiding my path in the direction that I am on, and to this day, I still hold it as one of the best gigs of my life.
I am sure that I am not the only one with experiences like this. Please feel free to send me your stories and I shall put the best on my Contributions page.