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Take Five With Will Sellenraad

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Will Sellenraad: Hailed as a "hidden gem," guitarist/composer Will Sellenraad has earned a fast growing reputation of being at the forefront of a new generation of jazz musicians. Known for his brilliant improvisations and his compelling, emotive compositions, this New York City native melds the various styles, phrasings and concepts of the jazz idiom with the raw elements of soul, rock and funk, to create a singular sound that is nothing short of inspiring.

Instrument(s): Guitar

Teachers and/or influences? As far as jazz and the guitar go, there are four people who have had a profound impact on me: Jim Hall, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell. Beyond them, influences are just too many to list.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I saw Stevie Ray Vaughn at the old Ritz in NYC. He killed it.

Your sound and approach to music: I've always been one to try to come at the music naturally. There is so much power in the notes you don't play.

Your teaching approach: I feel that everyone has their own path. Basically, a good teacher will help one down their correct path, rather then down the teacher's. Develop the individual. I think that holds true on all levels.

Your dream band: My dream band is on my current record, Balance. Abraham Burton, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and Victor Lewis. I'd really love to work with everyone though.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: I can't divulge that kind of information. :)

Favorite venue: 55 Bar, Smalls, and the Village Vanguard.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? My newest one, Balance. I feel that it's a really strong recording from front to back.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Kind of Blue.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? First and foremost, music should feel good. These days everyone seems to be doing such complicated music, often the most important things get lost. There has been so much done already, I really just want to put my vibe on everything, as strongly as possible.

Did you know... I'm a born and bred New Yorker.

CDs you are listening to now: Zakir Hussain - Selects John Coltrane - The Stardust Session Toumani Diabate - Djelika Keith Jarrett - Backhand

Desert Island picks: Jimmy Smith - Standards Bob Marley - Kaya Kenny Garrett - Songbook John Coltrane - Coltrane's Sound

How would you describe the state of jazz today? There are a ton of great Musicians and a lot of great music. Not nearly enough outlets for it all though.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? At least here in NY, it's important to have the clubs where bands can develop, not just showcase. That is how the music really takes shape. If I had the money, I'd open one.

What is in the near future? I'm currently trying to support this new CD, Balance. In the near future, I really want to try to do a standards record, that is definitely in my sights. I'd also like to do something with the two great drummers, and good friends, Nasheet Waits and Eric McPherson.

By Day: I practice and hang with my 2 year old, he's sounding good.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: It's been too long since I've thought about that.

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Balance

Balance

Beezwax Records
2009

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Star Hustler

Star Hustler

Tintop Records
2003

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