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Steve Herberman, Hristo Vitchev, Rick Stone and Harvey Valdes

Dom Minasi By

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Born in Cleveland in 1955, he began playing guitar when he was nine years old. His musical quest led him to Berklee College of Music and then on to New York where he found a fertile and stimulating environment in Barry Harris's Jazz Cultural Theatre. While studying with the legendary pianist, Rick honed his craft sitting in alongside veteran players like Tommy Flanagan, Lionel Hampton, Clarence C Sharpe, and Junior Cook. Then, under the tutelage of jazz masters Jimmy Heath, Ted Dunbar, Donald Byrd, Tony Purrone and Hal Galper, he earned his M.A. at Queens College. In the '90s Rick led a series of guitar duos at the Swing Street Café with guests including Peter Bernstein, Mark Elf, Roni Ben-Hur, Peter Leitch and Freddie Bryant. He toured South America with his trio, and played regularly at Sette MoMA, followed by a five-year stint with swing clarinetist Sol Yaged (2002-2007). Rick has worked with many of the jazz greats including Irene Reid, Ronny Whyte, Vince Giordano and Eric Person. He is a contributor to Just Jazz Guitar and has numerous books and videos on the web. Rick performs regularly in NYC, so if you're in the area, go to < a href="http://nyc.jazznearyou.com/">Jazz Near You to see where. You will truly enjoy this master player.

Q: How long have you played the guitar?

A: I've been playing over 50 years. I started when I was 8 years old on an old Harmony Stella that my parents rented from the store. It had strings way high off the neck and was really hard to play. I remember my teachers telling me "you gotta practice and get callouses kid!" I had an agreement with my parents and teacher that if I practiced at least a half-hour a day for a year, they'd get me an electric guitar. So in 1964 they got me an Epiphone Granada. No amp though! But it was a thin-line hollow body so you could hear it fine without an amp.

Q: Who are your major influences?

A: Early on I was into rock and blues so my influences then were Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter.

Then I started listening to Miles Davis, Jimmy Smith, Larry Coryell and John McLaughlin. But what really turned me on to playing jazz was saxophonist Sonny Stitt. I didn't have much money, so I'd spend a lot of time at the library digging through whatever jazz books and records I could find and remember reading the book Chasin' the Trane which led to an obsession with John Coltrane. I was studying classical guitar but listening to a lot of jazz guitarists: Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Jimmy Raney, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Howard Roberts, Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, etc. The three records that made the biggest impression on me were Jimmy Raney (the Roost material with Stan Getz), Jim Hall's album Concierto, and Kenny Burrell's Midnight Blue. This was all before I went to Berklee.

When I went to Berklee I was exposed to so many players. I saw Lenny Breau give a clinic at Berklee circa 1979/80 and his solo style and use of harmonics really amazed me. I spent a long time working on those things and actually did do a lot of finger-style for quite a while in the '80s because of that.

I attended a clinic with Joe Pass, and later studied with Barry Harris, Pat Martino, Jimmy Heath, Ted Dunbar and Hal Galper all had an immense influence on me. The reality is that the list could go on and on. I feel really bad about all the names I've omitted because I had a lot of help and inspiration along the way and I'm so grateful for their music and knowledge that was freely given. The one thing I'll say about influences is that ever since the very beginning, even when transcribing and learning somebody's solo note-for-note, my ultimate goal was never to play what my heroes played, but rather to play "in the spirit" of their playing.

Q: Why jazz?

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