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Mike Clinco

I began my music journey by studying piano at the age of eight. It gave me a foundation that spawned a lifetime of musical interest. My next door neighbor loaned me an acoustic guitar and I was hooked.

Age 11 , my parents bought me my first electric guitar, a Vox Lynx. I thought it looked cool but it sounded awful. My first real audition (age 15) was for Lowell Fulsom's band at a bar in Venice California. (The Roma) I was so scared because I wasn't ready for a professional gig but the process was beneficial and it really motivated me to study and practice.

I used to frequent this blues/jazz club on Melrose called the Ash Grove. It hosted some of the most soulful and progressive artists of the time(1969-1972). I had a chance to experience the likes of Freddie King, Albert King, Johnny Guitar Watson, Charlie Musselwhite (w/ a young guitarist named Robben Ford), Larry Coryell and the 11th House and many others.

High school music consisted of playing tenor saxophone in the marching band and playing with various rock groups at high school dances.

By the time my senior year came, I was ready to leave Los Angeles and go study music further out of state. At that time (1972), the University of Utah had attracted an impressive number of great students all with a common interest of creativity. The next six years I managed to form my own trio, teach at both the U of U and Westminster College and stay busy doing top 40 gigs in clubs.

I began listening to jazz and modern orchestral music. Various visiting faculty (Sam Rivers, Dave Liebman, Dave Holland) invigorated the scene. I was fascinated by artists on the ECM label. My record collection was filed with albums by John Abercrombie, Ralph Towner, Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek.

In 1977, my musical world changed forever. I met Nelson Riddle who offered me a chance to work with Ella Fitzgerald and the Tommy Flanagan trio. This was too good to be true. I spent one month in Detroit, Michigan playing concerts and feeling like a jazz musician for the first time. I knew at that point that I needed to move back to Los Angeles and kick my career in to high gear.

By 1980 I once again had an incredible opportunity presented to me. Henry Mancini was looking for a guitarist for his west coast touring band. Say no more, sign me up! For the next fourteen years, I came to know and work with one of the most gracious and talented men whose impact on my musicianship is immeasurable.

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Album Review

Mike Clinco: Neon

Read "Neon" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

As a first-call support artist, you must be an adaptable and, of course, knowledgeable player, possessing a broad musical vernacular. Guitarist Mike Clinco transmits these attributes on his 2009 release, featuring a top-flight ensemble of proven jazz veterans. It's easy to discern why Clinco has been summoned to perform with vocalists Bobby McFerrin and Natalie Cole amid sessions with the late operatic star, Luciano Pavarotti.

Sparked by radiant horn choruses atop the guitarist's largely melodic original compositions, the ...

Album Review

Mike Clinco: Neon

Read "Neon" reviewed by Matthew Warnock

Neon is an engaging modern jazz album that showcases the diverse background and compositional approaches of Mike Clinco and his ensemble. While this record will fall into the category of modern jazz, the music on Neon draws from blues, rock, Latin and bebop as much as does from the post-bop idiom. In the hands of lesser musicians, blending these different styles might sound convoluted or incoherent, but Clinco and his quintet rise to the challenge and are able to bring ...

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Mike Clinco: PressThe dogmatists, ideologues,and rigid purists of the jazz world have a lot of silly ideas, and one of them is the notion that jazz musicians aren't legitimate unless they are recording a bunch of warhorses that have already been recorded literally hundreds of times over the years. But truth be told, there is absolutely nothing wrong with jazzmen emphasizing their own material as long as they are talented composers -- and Mike Clinco's compositions serve him well on the self-produced Neon. The only song on this 2009 release that the lyrical guitarist didn't write himself is Henry Mancini's "Charade," which Clinco performs in a highly introspective fashion. Everything else on Neon is a Clinco original, and that includes enjoyable post-bop selections like "Sonship," "Bookends," and the Brazilian-flavored "Amalgam." Post-bop dominates Neon, although Clinco ventures into fusion territory when he shows some rock influence on "X Cue Says" and "Beaten Paths." Not only does Clinco (who features saxman/flutist Bob Sheppard and flugelhornist Walt Fowler extensively on this 52-minute CD) reject the dogma that jazz artists are obligated to make overdone standards a high priority on all of their albums -- he also rejects the notion that jazzmen should not allow themselves to be influenced by rock under any circumstances. Most of Neon is straight-ahead post-bop rather than fusion, but even so, the fact that "X Cue Says" and "Beaten Paths" are as rock-influenced as they are demonstrates that Clinco is not opposed to making some fusion moves when he feels it is appropriate. Neon is a solid illustration of Clinco's skills as both a guitarist and a composer. Alex Henderson, All Music Guide Alex Henderson - Barnes and Noble (Apr 20, 2009)

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Primary Instrument


Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Whaling City Sound



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