Take Five With Frank Barton

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Frank Barton:

Active in music since the 1980s, Frank is currently recording and playing music in Hawaii. In 2009, he recorded "Kodiak Shoreline" in Alaska- a collection of original instrumental compositions. He is the electric guitarist for the New York based band Funky Blue Muskrats—playing a mix of original material and songs by artists including the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix—and in 2008 he performed live with the Kodiak Rock All Stars in Alaska.


Electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, keys, woodwinds.

Teachers and/or influences?

Teachers: Mike Solazzo (bassist- Syracuse NY jazz scene), Bill Tiberio (sax, currently teaching @ Univ of Rochester in NY).

Influences: Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I would explore the jazz records at the Seymour Library in Auburn NY as a child in the 1980s. My father turned me onto Miles Davis, Bo Diddley, Junior Walker, and Chuck Berry. Attending concerts by the Grateful Dead in the 90's had a huge impact on me. Everything about their live show was impressive- the audio, the lighting, the fans...

Your sound and approach to music:

I started on clarinet and sax and was the lone improviser during my 6th grade concert. I played in scholastic jazz bands thru high school and picked up guitar at 16. My transition to strings was largely motivated by my desire to play both horn style lead lines as well as chords. Over the years, I've gotten a lot of feedback on how you can hear the approach of a saxophonist in my lead work. Developing my skills on sax first definitely influenced my approach to guitar.

Your teaching approach:


Your dream band:

the Santana rhythm section, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, Sonny Rollins, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Phish.

Desert Island picks:

Grateful Dead—Without A Net (Arista)

Miles Davis—In A Silent Way (Columbia)

Weather Report- Sweetnighter (Columbia).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Alive and well.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Avoiding the close-minded mentality that Miles Davis faced during his electric period.

What is in the near future?

Currently recording in Hilo, Hawaii

By Day:


If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:


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