Chicago-born guitarist and bassist Phil Upchurch has been
backing jazz, blues, and pop stars for over
50 years. What magic formula has allowed him to record
and perform with everyone from Otis Rush and
Donny Hathaway to George Benson and Michael Jackson?
Aside from Upchurch’s immense talent and
versatility, it also has to do with the fact that the guitarist is
very detail oriented"particularly when it
comes to rhythmic and melodic phrasing. Whether comping
or soloing, Upchurch thinks like a drummer
and always plays with and not on top of the band.
“If you listen to [drummer] Philly Joe Jones’ snare, you can
get a lot of ideas for rhythmic comping on
the guitar,” offers Upchurch, who also points to Miles
Davis"with his masterful blend of sustained
notes and silence"as essential listening for all aspiring