Jazz Guitar Greats of the Past 40 Years

A few months ago, Guitar World published its list of the 40 most influential guitarists since the magazine’s founding in 1980. The list included most every heavy metal and hair band guitarist, all the big time speed shredders, as well as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eddie Van Halen, Edge and Prince. But tucked in there were two jazz guitarists, Stanley Jordan and Emily Remler.

I had the incredible experience of seeing Jordan perform when he was still a teenager in the 1970’s, several years before he was signed by Blue Note Records. His first album for Blue Note, 1985’s Magic Touch, spent 51 weeks at #1 on the Billboard jazz chart. Jordan is known for his two-hand tapping technique, really unique to him and unlike the Michael Hedges inspired style featured in my recent post on Acoustic Guitar Innovators.

Here is concert footage from 1987, a couple of years after the release of Magic Touch. Watch as long as you like.

And here is a more recent performance of “Over the Rainbow”.

The same year Stanley Jordan released his breakthrough album, Emily Remler was voted Guitarist of the Year in Down Beat magazine. She was 28 at that time. She would die of heart failure only few years later at the age of 32 while on tour in Australia.

Remler’s style was classic jazz, and in this clip she plays a piece called “Blues for Herb” she wrote for jazz legend Herb Ellis. Classic as her playing was, you jazz buffs will note that her choice of an Ovation guitar for this performance was decidedly non-traditional!

And here she is playing a bossa nova standard, “How Insensitive”, by Antônio Carlos Jobim. The notes in the YouTube comment thread for this video indicate that this performance was one of her very last. She makes that right hand work look so effortless.

2 thoughts on “Jazz Guitar Greats of the Past 40 Years

    • I have to confess, it is not one of the bossa nova songs I was really familiar with, but I’m going to seek out more versions of it. Who else do you associate with the song?

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