And the final 10 are in! Rounding out our tribute to TrueFire educators, here’s our list of the Top 50 Hardest Working Guitarists in no particular order. Drumroll, please…
Mark Egan is considered to be one of the most respected and in-demand electric bassists on the music scene today. His unique fretless bass sound and style is both distinctive and versatile and his musical contributions incomparable. With three platinum & three gold albums to his credit, Mark has recorded with the likes of the Pat Metheny Group, Sting, Arcadia, Roger Daltry and Joan Osborne; performed with the Gil Evans Orchestra, Marianne Faithful, David Sanborn, John McGlaughlin and Sophie B. Hawkins and has added his musical prowess to such movies and television shows as; Aladdin, The Color Of Money, A Chorus Line, NBC Sports, ABC’s All My Children, CNN/Headline News and numerous award winning television commercials. Mark not only continues his recording and touring efforts which recently included studio performances with Joan Osborne, Michael Franks, Rory Block, Marianne Faithful, and tours with; Elements, Bill Evans and Marianne Faithful, but his passion and visionary approach to contemporary jazz music has led him to the creation of his independent record label, Wavetone Records. He brings his twenty years of performing, recording and producing experience to this new label, dedicated to providing an outlet for creative music projects. To-date Wavetone has released to critical appraise four albums; Elements, Far East Volume I and II, Elements Untold Stories, Egan’s, Mosaic Joe Beck, Finger Painting and the most recent release, Jeff Ciampa, Signs of Life. In addition, Mark has realized his dream with the completion of is own state-of-the-art recording studio, Electric Fields, designed by the highly acclaimed acoustical architect John Storyk. Electric Fields is equipped with a 40-track digital recording system and an array of vintage sound processing gear. Projects already in production include Mark’s solo project, guitarist Jeff Ciampa Trio and Element’s long awaited studio album. Mark continues to explore new sound territories through his extraordinary recording, composing and touring activities. His successful efforts as a musician, producer and label manager keep him on the forefront of the contemporary music scene.
Josh Workman began playing guitar at age 10 and by the tender age of 13 was already out performing in the smoke-filled bars of San Francisco’s infamous North Beach. While still underage, he spent many nights hiding out in the back rooms of these clubs, as the venue owners tried to conceal him from the beat cops patrolling the area. At times, Josh’s school teachers would come watch him perform into the wee-hours, always wondering if he would be too tired to make it to class the next morning. Through his high school years, Josh attended the School of the Arts during the day, all the while continuing to perform and record at night and on weekends. Some of his earliest guitar teachers included Ray Scott, Tuck Andress (Tuck & Patti), Dave Creamer and Bruce Foreman. After a year at Berklee School of Music in Boston, at age 19 Josh left to finish his studies at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. This is where he fully immersed himself in learning to play jazz guitar. His mentors there included Gene Bertoncini, Jim Hall and Vic Juris. Thanks to pianist Armen Donelian, Josh began transcribing the music of John Abercrombie for German publisher, Advance Music. This led to a 5-year stint as house transcriber for Warner Bros., Hal Leonard and other publishers. Also during this time, he recorded and performed with artists such as world music ensemble D’Vash, The Jazz Passengers (featuring Deborah Harry of Blondie) and offshoots of the Groove Collective. Soon after his return to the Bay Area in 1995, Josh joined the renowned jump-swing band, Indigo Swing. It was during this period that he honed in on the jump-blues and early guitar styles of T-Bone Walker, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and Tiny Grimes. Besides his work as a bandleader, Josh continues to be in-demand as a sideman; he performs with actress/vocalist Lynda Carter, vocalist Connie Evingson, pianist Larry Vuckovich (which includes previous appearances at the Monterey and San Francisco Jazz Festivals), vocalist Kim Nalley and several other ensembles. In addition to his busy performance schedule, Josh writes for Guitar Player Magazine.
Andy Ellis grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, and Paris, France, where he started studying classical guitar. While living in Bonn, Germany, Ellis discovered electric guitar and formed his first band, the Abstracts. The young teen played “beat shows” alongside older German bands in the mid ’60s, and this experience pushed him into the abyss of rock & roll. After studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Ellis joined the ranks of professional musicians, playing and teaching guitar in both the U.S. and Europe. In the late ’70s, he took up the Chapman Stick, studying with its maestro and inventor, Emmett Chapman. Ellis’ Stick playing led to a profile on NPR’s Morning Edition and opened the door to studio work (he played the Stick solo on Amy Grant’s Grammy-winning song, “Angels”). Ellis joined Keyboard magazine as a staff editor in 1988; two years later he jumped ship to its sister publication, Guitar Player, where he worked for more than 15 years. At Guitar Player, Ellis interviewed many greats, including Carlos Santana, Tony Rice, B.B. King and Mark Knopfler. Ellis’ interviews and articles have also been published in Guitar World Acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, Frets and Fretboard Journal, and his lessons appear in How to Play Blues Guitar, How to Play Rock Guitar, Guitar Player Sessions and other instructional books. Currently, Ellis lives in Nashville, where he accompanies singer-songwriters on baritone guitar and works as a freelance audio and video editor in addition to being writer and host of THE GUITAR SHOW WITH ANDY ELLIS.
Jesse Gress tours and records with Todd Rundgren and the Grammy®- nominated Tony Levin Band. A respected performer, music educator, and former music editor of Guitar Player, Jesse has hundreds of transcription folios and magazine articles to his credit, as well as five acclaimed reference books: Guitar Licks of the Texas Blues-Rock Heroes, GuitaRevolution – Lessons from the Groundbreakers & Innovators, The Guitar Cookbook, Guitar Lick Factory, and Guitar Licks of the Brit-Rock Heroes. He currently creates content for Guitar Player and Line 6’s GuitarPort.
For over 20 years, Adam Levy has been unlocking the guitar for students of all levels and varied interests. His teaching experience comprises several years with the National Guitar Workshop, the Blue Bear School in San Francisco, and private lessons for New School in New York City. He is the author of ‘Play the Right Stuff’ (book & DVD) and many of his lessons have been published in Guitar Player and Acoustic Guitar magazines. He was the featured guitarist in Norah Jones’ Handsome Band for seven years. His playing can also be heard on recordings by Amos Lee, Tracy Chapman. Adam Levy now offers guitar lessons worldwide. One-on-one sessions are available to students in the New York area and Southern California. (Levy divides his time bicoastally.) Online video lessons are available via Skype or iChat. Learn guitar basics, improvisation, chord theory, and ultimately develop the understanding and awareness to take the guitar in any direction you can imagine.
Billboard Magazine calls Jim Campilongo, “an American treasure”, an accolade this guitarist’s artistry and influential career has richly earned him. With seven albums of original material and guest appearances on dozens of recordings; from the Bammie-winner’s contribution on Cake’s million-selling “Prolonging the Magic” to (most recently) doing lead guitar duties with The Little Willies, his band with Norah Jones, Campilongo’s virtuosity and originality has inspired a generation of guitar players. His songwriting uses a palette of the best in Blues, Country, Jazz and Rock with a sensitivity and wit that has also earned him the broad fan base most instrumental guitarists never enjoy. In addition to Chet Atkins and Roy Buchanan, Jim was deeply affected by Muddy Waters and the Sex Pistols. Around this time he was given a 1959 Telecaster by an appreciative student in exchange for successful bass lessons. “Playing that ’59 Tele changed everything for me,” Campilongo remembers, “It was like it told me to get serious.” Soon after, he formed the hugely popular Ten Gallon Cats, which featured pedal steel guitar and Jim’s ever-expanding Country/Jazz vocabulary. They recorded three CDs. Jim broke from the Cats and reached a creative pinnacle in his existing body of work with 1998’s Table For One, a collection of winsome and elegant compositions praised by Billboard as, “Americana at its most touching”. Guitar Player affirmed the CD as a showcase for Campilongo’s “darkly romantic melodicism”. The record also garnered Campilongo a new level of recognition. In 2002, Campilongo pulled up stakes and moved to New York, where he formed his Electric Trio, which toured Europe and Scandinavia and recorded the acclaimed CD American Hips, lauded by Guitar Player as “easily his best effort to date”. No Depression raved, “Campilongo meets himself every time he picks up his instrument; that brand of artistic bravery is rare and to be treasured.” Since 2004 the “Campy Trio” reigns each Monday night at New York’s Living Room, a residency that Time Out New York recommended as “one of the city’s strongest”.
Howard Morgen, six and seven-string guitarist/clinician and arranger has written fingerstyle jazz guitar columns and arrangements for Guitar Player, Guitar World, Acoustic Guitar, Fingerstyle Guitar and is currently a columnist for Just Jazz Guitar magazine. In addition, Howard is the author of The Gershwin Collection for Solo Guitar, The Ellington Collection for Solo Guitar, Ten from Guitar Player, Solo Guitar Insights, Fingerstyle Favorites, Concepts, Preparations (Warner Bros.), Paul Simon for Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar (Amsco Pub.), and Fingerstyle Jazz Images for Christmas (Mel-Bay). His solo CD Howard Morgen plays Gershwin has won critical acclaim. He has been a guest artist/teacher during Jazz Week at the National Guitar Summer Workshop in Connecticut (1995-1997) and was on the faculty of the Guitar Study Center of the New School in Manhattan and the Jazz Studies Program at C.W.Post Campus, Long Island University. Among Howard’s students over recent years are singer-songwriter Paul Simon, Edie Brickel, Carly Simon, Christine Lavin. His bio is included in Maurice Summerfield’s The Jazz Guitar, Its Players and Personalities Since 1900. His new book Through Chord-Melody and Beyond (Alfreds)—with accompanying CD of songs and video by Howard Morgen and Howard Alden—is now available. His instructional video project, Fingerboard Breakthrough, from TrueFire.com, is expected to release soon.
JUDE, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING GUITAR?
Man, I don’t know. It’s been at least 17 or 18 … weeks. Ha!
WHAT’S THE MOST BIZARRE GIG YOU’VE EVER PLAYED?
That’d probably be the head cutting duel I had with none other than SPINAL TAP’s David St. Hubbins [actor Michael McKean] at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. We bloodied that stage, but both had a great time.
….AND THE MOST CHALLENGING?
Playing electric guitar and bass with the Oakland Symphony — which should’ve been a piece of cake ’cause I WROTE some of the music! By the way, there is no more amazing sound than sitting in the middle of a world-class orchestra.
HAVE YOU PLAYED ON ANY RECORDINGS YOU REALLY CAN’T PLAY FOR YOUR MOTHER?
Actually yes. I played a wild solo on 2 Live Crew’s “When We Get Them Hoes, We Let –” you know what, I can’t even say the rest of that song’s name.
WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO SLAP GUITARS LIKE THAT?
Probably from the fact that when I first turned on the radio as a kid, funk groups like Earth Wind & Fire, Lakeside, Heatwave, The Jacksons, Kool & The Gang ruled the airwaves and I loved that music and still do. Do that slap shit on a baritone guitar through a Marshall and you can have some fun.
WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE GUITARIST OF ALL TIME?
I recently met Nile Rodgers, which was a total thrill, because his licks on “Le Freak (C’est Chic)” and “Good Times” are what first inspired me to play electric guitar when I was still in the fourth grade. It’s either him or Eddie Van Halen for me. And hundreds of other genius players.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST BIG GIG?
Opening for Joe Satriani at the San Jose Civic in ’96 with ZENNER — when I walked in that arena for soundcheck and saw that huge floor and all those empty seats, there were some big ol’ butterflies in my stomach. I love that adrenaline rush.
DID YOU EVER STUDY MUSIC FORMALLY?
I have a bachelor’s in music from UC Berkeley — go Bears! — but, I also got an education at night playing in the Bay Area club scene.
Joe has been a senior editor at Guitar Player for five years, writing about an eclectic group of artists. He’s an active player as well – his achievement was playing on Tom Waits’ Grammy-winning Bone Machine album. Joe worked on a ‘techno-acid-jazz’ project with John Hassell, which also included bassist Flea of the Chili Peppers. He has a bachelor’s in music composition from UCLA and a master’s from UC Berkeley. Joe’s self-written, full biography can be found on his official website.
Sid Jacobs was born in Miami Beach, Florida. Sid spent his first few years in Havana, Cuba prior to the revolution, after which, the Jacobs family returned to Miami. It is there, at the age of seven, he began his fascination with the guitar. When his family moved to Nevada, Sid obtained a position as guitar instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This made him, at eighteen, the youngest faculty member in the school’s music department. After moving to Los Angeles he developed the curriculum for the Advanced Bebop and Jazz Guitar course at the Dick Grove School and the Jazz Guitar class at the Musicians Institute (MI and GIT), where he continues to teach. In 1991, his CD It’s Not Goodnight was released. It is a straight-ahead blowing session featuring his original compositions. In 1998 Sid was the first North American jazz guitarist invited to perform in Argentina’s “Guitars of the World” festival. In May of 2001 he was invited to perform at the Ankara Music Festival in Turkey. 2007 saw the release of his CD Open Strings, a collection of pieces for solo guitar including his acclaimed arrangements of Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk tunes. Some of the great jazz artists with whom Sid has performed include Harold Land, Eddie Harris, Buddy Montgomery, Joe Diorio, Brad Mehldau, Larry Goldings and Javon Jackson.