Bruce Forman & Whit Smith ** Swing Guitar Summit **
Bruce Forman and Whit Smith will play a fine concert on Sunday, August 6th, 2017, doors open at 6:00 PM.
Bruce Forman and Whit Smith
The Show...A Swing Guitar Summit
Two of the finest Swing and Jazz guitar players around will challenge each other with hot swing covers and their own sizzling compositions.
“Bruce Forman is one of the great lights of our age.”
Barney Kessel, Jazz Times
“Bruce Forman is a wonderful guitarist; extremely versatile and very musical…a first-rate accompanist and soloist.” Kenny Burrell
A hectic touring schedule; seventeen recordings as a leader, including his newest release The Book of Forman; countless sideman recording dates—with a featured role on one of jazz great Ray Brown’s last albums; soundtrack performances on three of Clint Eastwood’s distinguished films—most notably Academy Award-winning Million Dollar Baby; producer, arranger, and acclaimed educator; in residence at USC’s Studio/Jazz Guitar Dept.—when does Bruce Forman rest?
Forman is a seasoned jazz player with top-level skills as a leader, entertainer and sideman. He creates soulful, lyrical melodies, inventive harmonies, and solid accompaniment. Though he can shred bebop at blistering tempos with the best of ‘em, he is no urban snob. Cow Bop, Forman’s unique “western bebop” band, hit four separate charts with its CDs, Swingin’ Out West, Route 66, Too Hick for the Room and Cowlifornia Swing. Having won the Route 66 Challenge three times with Cow Bop, he created a linear music festival in 2013, establishing a new paradigm for touring and the use of social media, which included in a mentoring model for young musicians that is both innovative and collaborative.
Forman also has long-standing experience as a distinguished music educator and in-kind philanthropist. His national music-mentoring program, JazzMasters Workshop, provided over 2,500 sessions for young students. Always free of charge, JazzMasters’ sessions occurred during after-school hours, and the program enriched lives and helped develop numerous musicians who have gone on to promising careers.
A new composition, The Red Guitar, has received wide acclaim. It may be the only jazz libretto where the narrator and the featured instrumentalist are the same performer. The Red Guitar requires great virtuosity, but it is much deeper than a simple showcase for Forman’s abilities. It is serious one-man theater, exploring the obsessive demands that music places on its truest followers.
Bruce’s life and musical journey provide an American saga that is still in full swing. His Texas origins, his early career in San Francisco and New York, and his years on the road, all contribute to the unique and highly personal vision that he demonstrates today. Deep immersion in American culture inspires him to contribute to the traditions that he drew from. Formanism (his trio project); Cow Bop and the “road challenges” down historic byways like Route 66; original works like The Red Guitar; his entertaining podcast with Scott Henderson, GuitarWank; JazzMasters Workshop; his newest project: Junkyard Duo, scavenging music from the edges of sound, these are only the latest answers to the endless question that underlies Bruce Forman’s creativity. His music and life reflect every step of his journey, and demonstrate the awareness of an artist who’s very much at home in the world, and at the top of his form.
I was born in Connecticut and lived in New Canaan and Wilton as a child. I moved to Wellfleet (Cape Cod) MA. in time for high school and consider it as, "where I'm from."
My parents both played and sang and living amongst all that music definitely influenced the path I chose in becoming a musician. In the beginning I played rock and roll.
My buddies and I had a jammin rock and roll band on Cape Cod and we played everyday after school and parties on the weekends. Those were wild times and we grew up very quickly. I always wrote original rock tunes back then. Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen and Keith Richards were my primary favorites. Funny thing was, we seemed to live in a time and place that frowned on this. There was no classic rock radio yet. Our friends loved it but I envy the opportunities people have today when starting a band. (Band photo circa 1985: Tim Low on guitar, Dave Fanelli on drums, Chuck Smith on bass, and me.)
I drifted around for several years. I always would play the guitar and I would take a lesson with anyone I could. I took classical piano lessons one summer just because I liked the teacher so much. His name was Dowel Multer and he was brilliant. He could articulate and align music theory into a beautiful practical tool. He was also a wonderful musician. I simply heard him play a scale one day and knew I needed to study with him!
As my interests evolved I pursued another great teacher, Bill Connors. I lived with my grandmother in Bayside Queens for a year and would make the journey into New York City to take a "Jazz Lesson." I was a terrible student and yet Bill was patient with me. My grandmother was skeptical about this. She would go over some of the material with me that I'd bring home and see if she could make heads or tails of this stuff. We had 3x5 note cards taped up in the kitchen and bathroom with: IONIAN, DORIAN, FRIDGIAN, LOCREAN... etc., OR TONIC, SUB-DOMINANT… etc. She insisted that Bill write out a formal report card. I still have it!
It is true that I would record myself playing scales then some days I would go to my grandmothers attic as if I were going to practice but I'd play the tape instead. Meanwhile I'd space out or look at a comic book. I so wish I would have had better discipline back then! Nevertheless, Bill taught me much and I still consider many of the ideas he imparted to me.
I eventually moved into Manhattan and really started trying to become a professional musician. I was very fortunate to be down in Greenwich Village working at Matt Umanov's and meeting famous guitarists and being exposed to great opportunities.
I simultaneously met Danny Gatton, (who pointed me to many great country jazz players and recordings) and Tom Clark, a New York underground legend who pioneered the NYC alt country scene before it existed as a comfortable suburban musical neighborhood in the fuzzy world of Americana. Tom gave me a gig and a chance to develop my skills and eccentric stylings. He encouraged a no holds barred, all out blitz, fly by the seat of your pants approach on stage. I would probably not be here if it had not been for him.
And then there was the MASTER. My guitar guru, Richard Lieberson. Richard could play anything and he could play it all correctly. This could be made tangible by the way he could demonstrate many styles one after the other while playing one song. He could play a simple western swing tune like Take Me Back to Tulsa and as he went along he would switch for my education and amusement from." Eldon Shamblin to Hank Garland, drop by Oscar Moore’s place and swing by Tiny Moore’s place too!
He helped me put in order things I suspected but was missing pieces to. The sound and aesthetics of 1927 versus 1937 and then 1947. The evolution of harmony in American jazz and pop and the feel. Some of this is abstract but he nurtured a very strong understanding or sense of what essence made these eras and their participants stand apart from each other.
I met Elana James in New York but in a couple of years we were in California. We played for tips everyday on the street or in Balboa Park or at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market. A year of this gave us a solid repertoire and in 1997 we converged on Austin to try our hand.
Austin, Texas, welcomed us and we immediately began to play shows and soon had a booking agent and a record deal for our band, Hot Club of Cowtown. The rest as they say is history. You can go to the band's website hotclubofcowtown.com for some more background in that department.
I feel I have finally decided how I want to play! In the next few years I intend to make huge steps in my style and ability. I suffer a bit from something like ADD. I tend to think about a lot of things at once and this can inhibit my performance. On the other hand you never really know what will come out and the good days have been rewarding!
Be good to your guitar and it will be good to you!