Friday, July 8, 2022

Welcome back to my blog. This time around we have four great guitarists. Each one is different than the other. Let me introduce Bill Farrish. Freddie Bryant, Michael Coppolla, and Nelson Riveros.

Bill Farrish: Virtuoso guitarist and master musician Bill Farrish has released six CDs for MCR Records throughout the late 1990 s' to the early 2000 s' under his own name. His music’s been featured on several radio broadcasts in Europe, the Far East, and South America. In addition to leading his own groups, Bill has performed as a sideman with Shunzu Ohno, Sadiq Abdu Shahid, Dennis Wilson, Bernard Purdie, Tiny Grimes, Charles Eubanks, David Garibaldi, Arthur Prysock, Ray Alexander, and Jimmy Halperin.
Off-Broadway productions of The Man of LaMancha, Lil’ Shop of Horrors, Hair, and Tapestry. Television credits include: Bea Moss Productions and “The Carl Bruno Show“ TCI Cable, TV., featured artist in the independently released production “An Evening with Bill Farrish” by Raven Productions, QPTV, and composer of the theme and incidental music for The Park, Eun Kyung Show, Radio Seoul, Flushing NY, and many jingles. Contributing writer for Jazz Guitar Today. Bill is also an Assistant Professor of Music at Five Towns College where he teaches jazz guitar, Harmony, and Ear Training courses and maintains his own private teaching practice.
To learn more about Bill and what he is up to, visit his website:

1. How long are you playing?

I’ve been playing guitar for about 48 yrs now. I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old. I played mostly blues and whatever rock songs I could figure out like most kids. At one point I heard Miles Davis’ “Milestones” album and that was it for me. I started on trumpet when I was in grade school, PS 2. That was very, very short-lived though. I’m surprised that I continued with music after that experience. The school’s music teacher was really a miserable guy. It was because of him that I refused to study with anyone. I learned the guitar and about music on my own from recordings and books I would get from the library until I went to college. College was a completely different environment. It was totally supportive. However, I always felt like I was behind everyone else. I was constantly shedding, 8 or more hours a day. I was committed that music was what I was going to do with the rest of my life so it all just seemed natural to put that kind of time into it. As a student, I studied extensively with John Abercrombie, JoAnne Brackeen, Joe Monk, Peter Rogine, Joe Carbone, and Doug Munro.

2. Why Jazz? I wanted to be a studio musician when I was younger. I had learned that most of the players doing recording sessions were jazz musicians. I was curious and I wanted to learn about that music. I bought the Jerry Coker Improvisation book and there’s a list of albums on the back of it. I went to the library the next day and took out Milestones, Maiden Voyage, and Giant Steps. That was all I needed to hear; I was hooked after that.

3. Who are your Major influences? I’m all over the place. That’s always been a difficult question for me. I’m not sure if I have any “major” influences. When I was younger it was Buddy Guy, BB King, Jimmy Page, Chuck Berry, Jeff Beck - mostly blues players. In college when I got serious about jazz, I was drawn immediately to Jim Hall’s playing. Later on I got into Bill Evans, Wes, Joe Diorio, Johnny Smith, Frisell, Scofield, and Stern. John Abercrombie was a big influence. I got to study with John for a couple of years. I had already been playing professionally at that time so the lessons were ac just playing songs, and talking about music and life for about 4 hrs a week. That was a great education in- itself. Looking back, I really learned a lot from John in terms of approaching music and composition. He was the real deal both as a musician and as a person. When my father passed away, John spent about two hours talking on the phone with me, which was really kind. He was that kind of person. I was also influenced by a lot of horn players like Miles, Coltrane, Lester Young, Dave Liebman, Brecker, Ornette, Louis Armstrong, and Sonny Rollins. I’ve also gotten - heavily into Bartok, Chopin, Bach, and Debussy at times. Recently I’ve been listening to Mampou.

4. How do you feel about the use of electronics? No problem with it whatsoever if it’s done tastefully in terms of what the music asks for. By that I mean even if effects are used to an extreme, if it fits what’s happening with the music it’s a non-issue. Personally, I always use a bit of reverb or delay. I like the immediacy of solid-state amps but they can be a bit sterile sounding. I find some reverb or a bit of delay tends to fatten them up and add a bit of a vocal quality to the sound. Depending on the situation I might also use an old Rat pedal for some edge on the sound and a volume pedal. Once -in -a -while, I’ll use a chorus pedal, which I have a love-hate relationship with. I love it when I hear other guitarists using one. At times when I use it though it literally drives me nuts. Just the out-of-tune-ness it creates really messes with my ears, and at times and I find myself trying to push the notes back in tune. With all of that said I’m also extremely happy most of the time to just get the guitar to sound like a guitar, which is something I’ve spent my entire life working on.

5. Where do you think Jazz is headed? I think it’s heading exactly where it should be in terms of music. Young musicians are still into the music, and I think going to change with every generation. You can’t invite new people/musicians into the music and expect them to leave their personal experiences at the door, that’s absurd, Unfortunately, that’s what I hear a lot of older musicians asking and at times demanding from them. That’s a sure way to put an end to the music. We all preach how great this music is and how accepting it is and then put down folks for doing something different with it. Very silly and a hypo-critical. I think. Now with social media, we have fans of the music following musicians, and reading posts with this infighting happening. That’s not such a great way to attract an audience.
The music will continue to evolve and change, it’s normal in a healthy artistic culture for that to happen. It’s a very tired and old argument that some put out there - “it has to be this or has to be that” You can only wonder what someone’s motivation might be for making such statements. We all learn and come at things from different angles. Some start with what’s happening now and as they learn and progress, they work their way back through the history of the music. Others start with the history and work their way forward. Eventually, we all end up in relatively the same place. It doesn’t matter which roads we take to get there. Anyway, all in all, I’m optimistic about the future of music.

Freddie Bryant: Freddie received a Master’s degree in classical guitar from the Yale School of Music and is in demand in the New York jazz and Brazilian scenes, where he has worked with Elaine Elias, Tom Harrell, and many others. He was a member of Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy Septet and the Mingus Orchestra and led his own group, Kaleidoscope.

He has toured 55 countries and collaborated with musicians from various backgrounds, including Indian classical musicians, African singers, oud players, traditional Arab groups, and klezmer bands. In 2006, Bryant spent a week in Cuba, performing and working with other musicians. As an impassioned educator, he has taught jazz to all ages worldwide.
Bryant is on the faculties of Berklee College of Music and Prince Claus Conservatory in Groningen, Holland. 2017 saw the world premiere at the London Human Rights Watch Film Festival of Complicit with his music score. He was a recipient of the CMA New Jazz Works Composition Grant, 2019 and the resulting piece will be an epic work for 9 piece jazz band that premiered in 2020 featuring an all-star cast of Regina Carter, Donny McCaslin, Steve Wilson, Akua Dixon, Gwen Laster and vocalist, Carla Cook.

His new CD, Monk Restrung, celebrates the music of Thelonious Monk. He has seven other CDs as a leader: Dreamscape: Solo, Duo, Trio featuring Chris Potter and Scott Colley (GJKSounds), Live Grooves…Epic Tales with his band Kaleidoscope including Donny McCaslin and Yosvany Terry (HiPNOTIC records), Brazilian Rosewood, Boogaloo Brasileiro, Live at Smoke with Steve Wilson, Chris Cheek, Diego Urcola, Edward Simon, Edsel Gomez, Avishai Cohen and Jordi Rossy (Fresh Sound Records); and Take Your Dance into Battle with Steve Wilson, Don Braden, Ira Coleman and Billy Drummond (Jazz City Spirit) as well as Trio del Sol (Twinz Records) with Misha Piatigorsky and Gilad.

To learn more about Freddie, visit his website:

1. How long are you playing?

I've been studying guitar since I was a child, somewhere around 7 years old? My parents were musicians and my father, was a pianist so piano lessons came first but the guitar was my voice - my own, without the baggage or intimidation of playing my father's instrument. He was a great person and very nice, not a strict authoritarian but I still appreciated that I was more independent on the guitar.

As for professional playing, I had my first real gig as a senior in high school (1983). My high school band teacher hired a professional drummer to play my senior concert. His name was J. R. Mitchell. He hired me to play one of those union lunchtime gigs in midtown. That's where I met great musicians who became my mentors like bassist Dennis Irwin and saxophonist, Carter Jefferson. After that, I kept up with the jazz scene in NYC. I was lucky enough to grow up in the city and have a family home here. I always was impressed with musicians who could come to such a huge and unfamiliar place to make it playing music. But I had a support system so had it a bit easier.

2. Why Jazz?

Again, I think jazz was my voice. I loved the music my parents played. My mother sang in seven languages, sang Italian arias, German Lieder, French chanson to Russian and Yiddish songs, etc. She was the best "Serena" in Porgy and Bess (my humble and very subjective opinion!). Every concert ended with show tunes, so that was the beginning of my connection with "standards" that jazz players sometimes played.
But the key was the deep and moving Negro spirituals she sang like Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. These gave me an easy connection to the blues. Growing up I was always deeply connected to my African-American heritage and blues connected to jazz and, my early interest in guitarists like B.B. King, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley. My father was Caucasian and a deeply soulful and progressive person - marrying a black woman in the '50s, being called in front of McCarthy and the Un-American Committee, and having a curly-haired, olive complexion child as a 70-year-old! He was supportive of my interests but the first records they gave me were of Classical guitar masters like Segovia and Carlos Montoya.
That Classical sound and tradition have never left me. I have a masters in Classical guitar from Yale School of Music and play a lot of jazz-related music on the "Spanish Guitar," so my relation to jazz and the answer to your question is more complex and nuanced - beyond the "J" word!

3. Who are your Major influences? As mentioned, Segovia, classical guitar, and B.B. King to Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, and George Benson. And on the way a diversion into Brazilian music (Baden Powell, Raphael Rabello, João Bosco, and Gilberto and Gilberto Gil, etc). But I'd have to say Charles Mingus and Rahsaan Roland Kirk at the top as well as Miles Davis, and John Coltrane as well as hard Bop kings like Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, and modernists like Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Woody Shaw.
I'm not a guitar fanatic and sometimes all that picking really annoys me! Jajaja!

4. How do you feel about the use of electronics?

I'm cool with it, as long as it's musical. Sometimes sounds that completely rely on midi to hide this individual distinctive sound. But lines and phrasing come out regardless - like Metheny's midi sounds you can hear his phrasing and voice and regardless of how much distortion you can airways feel and hear Hendrix clearly.
5. Where do you think Jazz is headed?

I'd rather stay out of this discussion because I don't think my opinion matters much. Also, it'll be easier to say in fifty years, Jajaja!
From my extensive travel, performing and playing with musicians in fifty-five countries I'd say jazz is alive and well BUT traveling on a thousand different paths. These paths can be 100% alien and unfamiliar to someone trained in the tradition of American jazz from the 20th century. It goes from fusions with traditional cultures around the world to electronic and produced music varying from Euro-centric modern classical to Hip Hop. Debating whether to can these music styles "Jazz" is as tiring as debating whether to even use the term jazz - even as related to what's normally thought of as jazz. For instance, some of my mentors, Max Roach, and Dr. Billy Taylor liked to call it American Classical Music and Nicolas Payton has continued in a similar vein by using the term BAM.
Certainly, some of the improvised music I've encountered on my travels has had little similarity and connection to "American" music, yet they feel inspiration from jazz and American artists even though they grow further away from that tradition.
In the end terms and labels are annoying and also anti-musical and anti-creative so I just listen for the spirit of the people playing and the group dynamic. I'm happy if it sounds different as long as it's honest and heartfelt.
On the other hand,the music business will not reflect the true nature and huge body of work that is out there. It will always be limited and restricted to a smaller number of the artists. So the "Jazz Business" is not what I prefer to follow to show me where Jazz is headed.

Michael Coppola was born and raised in Connecticut. He began playing guitar at age 11, later taking jazz lessons with Sal Salvador at 15. Michael added classical guitar to his music studies the following year and pursued it along with classical composition after high school at the Boston Conservatory of Music and The Vienna International Music Center in Austria.

In 1986, after a stint in the John Mehegan Trio, Michael began expanding the harmonic possibilities of the guitar by adding 2 extra inner higher octave strings between the 4th and 5th, to easily achieve the tight voicing pianistic sounds of Bill Evans. In 2000, he added a 9th string to the new group, completing the “Hydra” guitar. From this instrument, in Michael’s hands, one hears not only pianistic comping but unique harp-like sounds woven into traditional guitar-type lines.

Jazz critic, Scott Yannow, in his book, “The Great Jazz Guitarists” called Michael “a master of the 9-string guitar”. Michael has played at major jazz and guitar events such as the Montreal Jazz festival, the NAMM show, and the Chet Atkins festival. He has also played at New York City clubs such as the Blue Note, Knickerbockers, and the Iridium, where he was invited to perform with the legendary guitarist Les Paul. Michael has several recordings as a leader Including “Return of the Hydra” which was a top ten pick for Coda magazine in 2004.

Coppola has been featured in many guitar-based magazines such as Just Jazz Guitar, 20th Century Guitar, Guitar Player, Fingerstyle Guitar, and more.
In addition to extensive solo guitar playing, Michael performs with small groups and duos with vocalists, bassists, and other guitarists, including many of today’s notable players such as Gene Bertoncini, Jack Wilkins, Tony Purrone, Howard Alden, Robert Conti, and more.
To learn more about Michael, visit his website:

1. How long are you playing?

I began guitar at age 11 at a local music store in Fairfield, Ct. At 15 I took 2?years of lessons with Sal Salvador and at 17 added local classical guitar lessons to my studies. I then went to Boston Conservatory Of Music and the Vienna (Austria) International Music Center.

2. Why Jazz? Like so many kids my age in the early 70’s, I became fascinated with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. This led me to more traditional jazz. In my first year of music school I heard Joe Pass’ “Virtuoso” and was hooked.

3. Who are your Major influences? John McLaughlin, Joe Pass as mentioned above, also Wes, Bill Evans, McCoy, Walter Bishop Jr and Joe Diorio

4. How do you feel about the use of electronics?

I don’t personally partake, but have no problem with others using them with taste and purpose.

5. Where do you think Jazz is headed?

Everyone will switch to 9 string guitar any minute now LOL. I believe that jazz evolved so quickly compared to classical music that there were many stones left unturned. I don’t see it heading anywhere new, but rather exploring more deeply the innovations from the masters of the 60 s, such as, Dolphy, Coltrane, Taylor, Mingus, and so many others.

Nelson Riveros:A New York based guitarist, vocalist and composer Nelsonis part of an emerging force of a new generation of Contemporary Latin-Jazz artists. He received his Masters Degree from New Jersey City University in Jazz Performance and Business. His latest recording the “Latin Side of We Montgomery” on Zoho Music reached #2 on Jazz Week and was the #7 most played Jazz CD of the Top 100 on Jazz Radio in the US in 2021. Nelson took several of Wes Montgomery’s compositions and arranged them in different Latin and Caribbean styles creating a fresh new sound on Wes’s music. As Awilda Rivera from WBGO 88.3 FM quoted “Nelson is killin’ it on the Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” In making this terrific album Nelson collaborated with Grammy winning and Grammy nominated musicians Hector Martignon-piano, Andy McKee -bass, Mark Walker- drums, Jonathan Gomez- percussion. Nelson’s group has performed at The Iridium, The Side Door, Zinc Bar, 55 Bar, Mintons, Trumpets, The Bar Next Door. He did a tour of Colombia in 2014. Riveros has also performed with John Benitez, Jeff Tain Watts, Regina Carter, Jeremy Wall of Spyro Gyra. He performed for the CD release of ‘Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra’ arranged and conducted by saxophonist Jack Copper of the University of Tennessee featuring Luis Bonilla, Billy Drews, Scott Wentholt, Jim Seeley, John Mosca, Ivan Renta, Vince Cherico and many other noted musicians. His debut recording ‘Camino Al Barrio’ peaked at #8 on the Jazz Week World Music Chart. He was voted as,”Best Next Generation Artist” and ‘Best Latin Jazz Guitar for the 2010 Latin Jazz Corner Best of The Year Awards. Nelson was on the music faculty of the 92nd St School of Music for 12 years and now has built his own teaching guitar business.

1. How long have you been playing?

I’ve been playing guitar for about 40 years, since I was about 14 yrs old. There were two brothers that were a few years older than me, who played guitar and lived in a house behind my building. They had a band and I use to follow them around and go to their rehearsals and gigs. These events sparked my interest in guitar. So I got a paper route and purchased my first guitar and amp. I started learning off of records slowing down the turntable. I also took some lessons at a local music store. I stared playing Rock as most of us do but I also soaked up everything I heard on the radio. Rock, Disco, Funk, Reggae. I carried a small radio with my everywhere I went. I loved all of it and it all influenced my deeply. I started playing with a Rock band mostly basement and block parties in my senior year of high school. One day a friend came over with an LP of Al Di Meola and that changed it all for me. I bought a couple of his records but I really had to SLOW those records just to learn a few lines.

2. Why Jazz?

It was a revelation to me when I heard the spontaneity and fluidness of improvisation in Jazz and I wanted to know how to do that. The complex harmonies and rhythms resonated deeply in me. I wanted to play and write music with all of it.

3. Who are your Major influences?

My major influences in music and guitar are Wes Montgomery, George Bien, my first guitar teacher who turned me on to many jazz player. Pat Martino, George Benson, Larry Carlton. Lee Ritenour,Jaoa Bosco, Joe Pass and Pat Metheny have been two of my greatest compositional influences. Both are VERY different but their styles have found a way into my music in a profound way.

Al Di Meola was the first Jazz/Fusion guitarist I ever heard when I was already playing Rock for a few years. Also Miles Davis, Jobim, Ivan Lins, Keith Jarrett,Chick Corea, John Coltrane, Afro-Cuban music. My first jazz guitar teacher and a major influence of mine George Bien turned me onto to many great records of the players I mentioned as well as, Joe Pass, Barney Kessel and John Mclaughlin.

In my mid-twenties I studied with Remo Palmieri. He was a studio musician and on staff with Arthur Godfrey on CBS Radio but had also played with Coleman Hawkins, Teddy Wilson, Dizzy, Charlie Parker and Billy Holliday, Art Tatum, and many others. He really got me into the language of Jazz and Bebop and how to think of using 2 or 3 other chords when improvising over any chord. He would write out solos over tunes for me to analyze, and he would arrange beautiful chord melodies for me. I still have all of Remo’s lessons and may do a Blog or You Tube Channel dedicated to him featuring this work.

He changed his name legally from Palmieri to Palmier in 1952 to avoid being confused with Eddie Palmieri. I also studied with Gene Bertoncini who helped me visualize the fretboard and Vic Juris who just being in his presence said it all to me.

How do you feel about the use of electronics The use of electronics is great if they are used well. Many players really know how to use them and have become an extension of them and their sound. I like using effects to enhance the sound. I love a nice clean smooth overdrive on certain solos and tunes and a booster pedal. Mainly I use delay and reverb and an occasional chorus.

Now I'm going to start exploring more with synth and flute-type sounds. I play different kinds of music that often need more electronics.

5. Where do you think Jazz is headed?

I think Jazz is going to continue to evolve with different musical influences while keeping the tradition. This keeps the music fresh.

Many young musicians have taken Jazz into very expressive and beautiful areas with their innovative and creative ways. Even though a lot of Jazz has been sampled by hip-hop and rap artists they are still having people improvise over this. The tradition is also being kept alive at the educational level and I think this is very important.

We have to keep finding creative ways to turn young people on to this music, which has already been going on for quite some time.

I want to thank all the participants for their talent and contributions to this blog and jazz.
Dom Minasi

1 comment:

  1. Very very inspiring and very encouraging in these bizarre times


Thanks for Posting.