Stuff You Want to Know,
and Radio Interview

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Here is a radio interview I did in 2014 that I want to share with you. I am also posting some answers to some questions that many of you have been asking me recently including answering the great questions and feedback I received from a questionnaire that I sent out a few months ago.

And thanks to everyone who participated in that survey! It was helpful in hearing what you’d like to know from me. (If you’re new here, or didn’t participate in the questionnaire, you can ALWAYS email me anytime) There was so many responses that I couldn’t begin to answer ALL of them here right now, such as specific questions like guitar techniques. However I will get to all of that soon. Some may even be answered by way of videos so I can demonstrate specific things for you. So be on the look out for future posts for all that in the near future.

I am posting the interview first, so you can listen to it while reading the answers to your questions.

The Interview:
Adam’s Radio Interview, Nov 23, 2014






Your  Questions (Some), Answered:

Q – Who do you most admire in the jazz scene today?

A – Not an easy question to answer… As far as guitarists goes, two guitarists come to mind immediately: Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Pat Martino. Kurt Rosenwinkel, because not only is he a great player, but a great song writer too. He has managed, in my humble opinion, to have most successfully blended the bebop language into the modern, contemporary jazz (some might even say fusion) vocabulary. I really dig him. Pat Martino, because he faced devastating adversity and still has managed to maintain a lustrous career. After having emergency brain surgery, he suffered amnesia and literally had to learn how to play guitar all over again after having been a professional musician for 20 yrs or so by then. And Pat sounds better today than he ever has. (Again, my opinion) I had a lesson with Pat about 2 and 1/2 years ago. What a treat THAT was!!

Q – Where are you from?

A – I was born and raised in Laird Township, which is about a 35-40min drive east from Sault Ste. Marie, in northern Ontario, Canada. At 20 yrs old I moved to Toronto to go to College. I then lived in Toronto for 20 more years before I moved to the US.

Q – How did you came to play with a thumb pick which is unusual for jazz?

A – There is a threefold answer to that. I started off using a flat pick (a plectrum, for you peeps from UK). Then at around 10-11 yrs old, Chet Atkins was my guy. I would sit and try to figure out what he was doing off my dad’s records. Chet played with a thumb pick. I would switch back and forth between thumb pick/flatpick regularly.

Then at around 14, I began playing 5-string bluegrass banjo, albeit, of course with a thumb pick. Then I discovered Eddie Van Halen at around 16. There wasn’t as much thumb picking going on during that period. By the time I moved to Toronto to study jazz in college, I eschewed the thumb pick for many years.

Adam Playing Banjo

Adam Playing Banjo jamming with his dad

In around 2000, I saw a documentary on Lenny Breau made by his daughter, Emily Hughes. Well, to say it lightly, something really struck me about Lenny’s awesome sound and technique. He was also a big Chet Atkins fan growing up learning how to play. We both had Chet, a Country music background, and a love of Jazz, so I really connected to it all. However, Lenny created a whole new way to play jazz guitar by fusing Chet, jazz pianist, Bill Evans, with Flamenco guitar (with many other influences of course) to create very new conceptual way to play guitar. This technique allowed him to play chords for himself like a pianist. Lenny sounded Like two guitar players. Needless to say I dove in and really studied Lenny’s style more than anyone else. Lenny, or course, used a thumb pick. Since about 2002 I have been using a thumb pick exclusively.

Q – Who are your influences? Who were your biggest influences who played straight ahead jazz on a different instrument?

A – Here are some influences the come to mind: Chet Atkins, Albert Lee and Eddie Van Halen, in my younger years (ages 10-19). Later on Pat Martino, Pat Metheny, Tal Farlow, Jim Hall, Ed Bickert, Lorne Lofsky, John Scofield, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Earl Scruggs (banjo), Charlie Parker (saxophone), and Bill Evans (piano) are some great examples of influences that weren’t guitarists. I should also mention tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. I always dug what he was doing too. However, it was definitely Lenny Breau style that had the greatest impact on me over all. Lately, Pat Martino has really crept into my playing and has been a big inspiration in recent years.


More to come! And as always, feel free to leave comments or ask more questions below.

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