We all have people in your lives that inspire us and help us along our path of discovery and as a musician, there are other musicians that influence our musical knowledge. We listen, transcribe and emulate until it seeps into our musical DNA and hopefully comes out of us as original content. As Tony Bennett says "if you take from one musician it's stealing but if you take from a bunch of musicians it's research". Wise words. I am going to be talking about the players that have influenced and inspired me to date and hopefully explain why. I will be presenting them in no particular order of personal discovery.
Guitarist Pat Metheny has been one of those players for a long time and continues to be an influence. Pat's a guy who never rests. He is always writing, recording, collaborating with other musicians and touring but his playing and his music never gets old or worn out for me. He's one of those players that when he improvises it just flows out of him and in such a musical way. His sense of melody when he improvises has been a huge influence on me. I try to always play melodies when I improvise and not have it sound like a scale and arpeggio exercise. Pat can play over any changes and make it sound melodious and story telling. Listen to "Lakes" from "Water Colors" on ECM for an example of what I'm talking about. "Lakes" is a tough tune but he just soars beautifully through the changes and makes it sound like an easy tune. This record came out in 1977 and had Danny Gottleib on drums, Eberhart Weber on bass and longtime associate Lyle Mays on piano.
Another thing that attracts me to Pat's playing and writing is that his mid west influences come out in his music. The duo record he did with the late bassist Charlie Haden called "Beyond the Missouri Skies" (1997) for instance really imagines that part of the world in both of their playing. They are both from that part of the United States. Charlie Haden was born in Shenandoah, Iowa and Pat was born in Lee's Summit, Missouri.
The music of the southern States has had a huge impact on me and has for a number of years. That music educates and instructs my playing and writing in a big way. Even though I'm known as a jazz guy, I love Country music, Bluegrass, Blues etc., all of which came from that part of the United States. I grew up in Calgary, Alberta for a big part of my informative years (grade 9 through college) and that part of Canada has very strong roots in country music. The Calgary Stampede is the biggest Rodeo in the world and the city is filled with country music for 10 or so days. That definitely seeped into my DNA.
Here is a solo guitar arrangement of "Shenandoah", which is an old folk tune originally credited to "Traditional", played on my PRS 408 through a Fender Tweed Blues Deluxe 40 watt tube amp.
That's all for now.