Following up his 2004 solo debut Song For Micaela, NYC guitarist James Silberstein achieves some equally rewarding results with his 2008 CD Expresslane. Like Micaela, the 11 track 60+ minute Expresslane puts Silberstein on the fast track with a solid set of in the groove jazz guitar-based instrumentals. Expresslane features the guitarist in some good company—including bassist Harvie Swartz, Eric Alexander (sax) drummer Vince Cherico and more—serving up modern versions of past masters including Cole Porter, Rogers & Hart, Hoagy Carmichael, guitar ace Jack Wilkins and more. Several Silberstein originals fit into the CD’s classic mainstream jazz guitar style quite nicely while liner notes by jazz expert Bill Milkowski offers fresh insights on Silberstein’s latest jazz guitar masterpiece.

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Guitarists making waves in the music world, their new recordings and gear!

Musical Background

I’ve been playing guitar for more than 35 years. When I was a kid, we listened to Duke, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Ella, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett and lots of classical music. My mother told me that when I was two, I used to listen to classical music for hours at a time. Later, I got into the Beatles, Stones, Cream, Hendrix, Burt Bacharach, Ravi Shankar, Sandy Bull, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and others. When I was 18, I heard a guy in Central Park in NYC playing beautiful Brazilian-style chord melody and singing. I listened and got up the courage to ask for lessons. That began a wonderful learning experience and friendship for me with Gaudencio Thiago de Mello, the great Brazilian guitarist/singer/composer. I began listening to jazz recordings and going to jazz clubs. I heard and met a number of great guitarists at a jazz guitar club in NY called “The Guitar,” including Chuck Wayne, with whom I later studied, and Sam Brown, who became my musical mentor. I also studied with Barry Galbraith, who helped get me started with sight-reading, and with Rudolph Schramm, a brilliant arranger. Later, I met Tim Breen, a fantastic guitarist who was probably my biggest influence. I’ve worked with a pretty diverse list of artists, including Zoot Sims, The Drifters, Dave Schnitter, Carter Jefferson, Jack Wilkins, Norah Jones, Peter Leitch, Attilla Zoller, Larry Elgart's Big Band, and comedian Bob Hope.

New CD

My new CD, Expresslane, was recorded at Kaleidoscope Sound Studios in Union City, N.J. in 2007. The guitar was recorded acoustically, directly through the board, and through a miked amp. Having three tracks provides more options for working on your sound. The CD gave me an opportunity to play some solo arrangements and in a variety of ensemble settings and write some tunes. I think it reflects a range of time-feels, moods, and technical styles and seems pretty representative of my playing.

Favorite Guitars

I played a Takamine classical guitar on “Shadows,” a Gibson Citation on “My Romance,” and a Gibson Wes Montgomery L5 model guitar on the other tunes, and used a Fender Twin, an old Ampeg and an AER amp. I generally use 12 gauge D’Addario strings, Tortex picks and Dunlop finger picks and no pedals.

Musical Influences

In addition to the guitarists I mentioned earlier, my biggest guitar influences when I started playing were Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, George Benson, Joe Pass, Tal Farlow, Baden Powell and Bola Sete. I transcribed some of their solos and tried to imitate aspects of their playing. There are so many great guitarists now. To name a few, Gene Bertoncini, Russell Malone, Jack Wilkins and Paul Myers are master solo guitarists and I also love John McLaughlin, Rodney Jones, Peter Leitch, Gregg Skaff, Peter Bernstein, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Allan Holdsworth, so many others. Some of the albums that profoundly impacted me were Charlie Parker - Live at Massey Hall, Kind of Blue, In A Silent Way, Bitches’ Brew, and numerous Wes, Bill Evans, Pat Martino and George Benson albums.

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