About Jack DeSalvo

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Jack DeSalvo began guitar lessons at age eight. By his early teens he was rehearsing and performing with local rock groups. The first transformation from interest in pop music to other forms occurred when he bought an LP based on its cover when he was 11. The record, already a classic by that time, was Fresh Cream. Hearing the track Sleepy Time Time  inspired his early research into the Blues, including BB King’s Live at the  Regal and recordings by Albert King and others. By 15 DeSalvo had picked up harmonica and mandolin and started to use a bottle-neck slide after seeing Johnny Winter perform and hearing Duane Allman on LP.

While trying to commandeer his teen-aged garage band’s repertoire to more blues oriented material, his friend Steve Aprahamian (now an eminent composer) played him Birds of Fire by the Mahavishnu Orchestra. This changed everything. Exposure followed to the music of Coltrane, Miles, Charlie Parker and early jazz. DeSalvo’s sketching and painting, which were the center of his activities from early childhood began taking a back seat to music, though he always felt they emanated from the same impulse.

Jack began studying classical guitar with his  jazz teacher Al Faraldi. Al sent Jack to NYC to Al’s teacher, Leonid Bolotine. A violinist with Toscanini’s NBC Orchestra, Bolotine had initiated the guitar department at Mannes College of Music and established the American Institute of the Guitar. At Bolotine’s urging, DeSalvo began to study theory and harmony and eventually composition and orchestration with Ariada Mikéshina, who was formerly a student of Richard Strauss.

During his classical studies Jack continued to pursue jazz and improvisation, playing in ensembles with drummer and eventual recording engineer Tom Tedesco and the late Chapman Stick innovator Frank Jolliffe.  Forming a group with Tedesco, trumpeter Charlie Monte and bassist Joe Buonomo, DeSalvo performed at  clubs in NYC and New Jersey playing a repertoire that ranged from old standards to Wayne Shorter tunes and free improvisation.

DeSalvo went to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music. He also studied George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept. It was at this time that he began his process of waking up every morning and writing music, encouraged by poet William Stafford’s practice of writing a poem every day. Though Jack has written long forms, symphonic works and chamber music, it is music written for small jazz bands that became the core of his writing. He feels these pieces, accessible to musicians through the jazz chart, are analogous to free-verse poetry, another art-form that has enriched DeSalvo’s sensibilities and informs his work.

Moving to lower Manhattan to immerse himself in the downtown music scene, his apartment was at the corner of Mott St. and Prince St. which was was then a nexus for a number of musical genres and related arts, down the block from the original Knitting Factory, around the corner from Lunch for Your Ears and near Todd’s Copy Shop-Gallery. It was in this milieu that DeSalvo developed his writing, which he termed Composing for Improvisers, while continuing to work on himself as an improviser.

He kept his jazz guitar and classical guitar techniques separate until he started to study with Bill Connors, the first guitarist with Chick Corea’s Return To Forever, who had already recorded his landmark ECM recordings. Connors encouraged DeSalvo to break the dichotomy between plectrum-oriented jazz playing and right-hand classical technique.  This was liberating and eventually led to Jack’s pianistic independence of moving voices while developing a flamenco-like fluidity with his right-hand fingers to match the plectrum technique he developed early on.

DeSalvo’s performances at this time were centered on his own compositions. and he performed  concerts at Inroads, the Open Center and played at clubs including Seventh Avenue South and the Inner Circle. He made the first recording of his own music, Moments Of, with a group consisting of himself on guitar, Rick Jesse on tenor saxophone, Scott Butterfield on bass and Chris Braun on drums.

With drummer Chris Braun and bass player Mike Bocchicchio, both a few years his senior, he began regular extended sessions playing mostly jazz standards, music by Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and some of Chris Braun’s music. It was during this period and because of these two masterful players, Bocchcchio and Braun, that DeSalvo learned the meaning of swing and its powerful essence at the heart of jazz. They made a single recording of Braun’s music, engineered by Tom Tedesco, pre-Tedesco studio.

The next project, produced by the late David Baker was DeSalvo’s album Falls Home with Allen Farnham on piano, Drew Gress on bass and Tom Tedesco on drums, featuring DeSalvo’s compositions with quartet performances and solo guitar pieces.

Throughout DeSalvo’s early NYC experience he played numerous gigs with bass player Tony DeCicco whom he had known at Berklee. At one performance in a gallery on the Lower East Side they played in an ensemble that included saxophonist and composer Trish Burgess, who introduced them to her husband Bruce Ditmas. Tony and Jack knew who Ditmas was – a veteran of the Gil Evans Orchestra and The Paul Bley Quartet. A session was set up. Not a word was said and the playing commenced. It became obvious that the trio could improvise full pieces with a shared sense of compositional structure and yet with a feeling of total abandon. The result was such that they immediately became a band which was known from then on as D3.

D3 hit the downtown scene with their powerful interplay, performing regularly at the Knitting Factory and First on First. A recording was made at Joe Pedoto’s Omni-Mix Studio. Bassist Melvin Gibbs, who knew that Ronald Shannon Jackson was looking for a guitar player for his band The Decoding Society, played the recording for Jackson who then hired DeSalvo.

Several European and American tours with Ronald Shannon Jackson followed with what was to be the horn-less version of the Decoding Society, a band that included bassists Ramon Pooser and Conrad Mathieu and guitarists DeSalvo and the late Jef Lee Johnson. While in Europe DeSalvo met and played with many European and American musicians including Peter Brötzmann in Wuppertal and with Miles Davis’ then current band at Club Rémont in Warsaw.

DeSalvo is featured on Jackson’s legendary recording Red Warrior (Knit Classics KCR-3032/orig. Axiom) with Jack playing electric and slide guitar as well as playing mandolin on the bonus track Harmolodic Christmas.

Soon after came Transparencies (Bellaphon CDLR-45057) with Karl Berger on vibes, piano and balafon, Jack on electric, 12-string and classical guitars, Anthony Cox on double-bass and Tom Tedesco on drums and percussion recorded in Carla Bley’s Grog Kill Studio.

The first album from D3, Spontaneous Combustion (Enja/Tutu CD-888126), with Jack on electric guitar, Tony DeCicco on double-bass and Bruce Ditmas on drums, now a classic, was the very first recording at the then barely completed Tedesco Studio, engineered by David Baker and produced by Peter Wiessmüller.

Arthur Lipner and DeSalvo’s duo performances featuring Arthur’s vibes and marimba and Jack’s classical and electric guitars led to the recording Liquide Stones (Enja/Tutu CD-888132), which received enthusiastic reviews on both sides of the Atlantic:
“Using both acoustic and electric instruments, DeSalvo demonstrates technique, intelligence and imagination with a broad streak of lyricism and passion in what amounts to one of the better guitar voices to be heard in improvised music these days.” – Cadence
“Guitar and vibraphones in a thrilling duo recital with timeless, inflammable ideas. Thus warm ballads burgeon beside provoking, avant-garde sound plasma, forming their own integrated musical system of co-ordination.” -Rainer Guerich, CD Tips, Germany.

Arthur recorded DeSalvo’s composition Pramantha on his own album In Any Language that included Vic Juris on guitar.

DeSalvo performed with various ensembles at the Knitting Factory and elsewhere, including Pat Hall’s Quintet and his own groups including a trio with bassist Jeff Carney and Bruce Ditmas and a quartet with saxophonist Chris Kelsey, bassist Peter Herbert and Ditmas. This quartet eventually recorded DeSalvo’s album Sudden Moves (UR9989).

The album Stutches (UR9996), with Jack on banjo, mandolin and various guitars, Chris Kelsey on soprano saxophone and Tom Tedesco on tabla, percussion and drums was recorded at Tedesco Studio by engineer Jon Rosenberg.

Not long after, the long-time duo of DeSalvo and percussionist Tom Cabrera recorded their first album Tales of Coming Home (UR9986) with Cabrera on frame drums and percussion and DeSalvo on steel-string acoustic six and 12-string and slide guitars and mandolin.

All through this time DeSalvo was improvising on classical guitar. In his liner notes to his solo guitar record Jubilant Rain (UR9987) he says, “I discovered improvised music little by little as a teenager, studying classical guitar and playing in garage bands. It was, however, the solo recordings of Keith Jarrett that intimated a process that was perhaps even more paradigm shattering than the astonishing jazz that I was listening to at that time. Jarrett wasn’t simply improvising over the harmonies inherent in a composed song.

“He was making the whole thing up.

“…I was determined to search for, if not the same process, a process that would necessitate moving myself out of the way and allowing music that clearly already exists in some other world, some other dimension, some parallel universe beyond myself, to flow through my instrument, the guitar.”

A chamber group version of DeSalvo’s piece The Guest was commissioned by the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and performed by Anthony Scafide’s chamber ensemble.

Though continuing to perform his own music in New York at various spots including The Internet Cafe with a quintet including saxophonist Tony Malaby, trumpeter Dave Ballou, bassist John Hébert and drummer Ed Ware and a quartet with Ron Horton on trumpet, Hébert and Tony Moreno on drums, this period turned into a time of intense self-reflection and focus on classical guitar repertoire from renaissance lute music, through Bach to modern works including Britten’s Nocturnal and transcriptions of Ginastera’s piano music.

DeSalvo premiered composer Sean Hickey’s Tango Grotesco, which was dedicated to the guitarist, at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.

A return to Omni-Mix Studio for a different type of solo guitar record, Pramantha (UR9988), with steel-string acoustic guitars and his own compositions, that, like predecessor recordings My Goals Beyond by John McLaughlin and Bill Connors’ Theme To The Guardian on ECM and even Bill Evans’ Conversations With Myself, renders a most personal album.

DeSalvo established UNSEEN RAIN Records with producer-engineers Gene Gaudette and Jim DeSalvo. This has created an artistic home for DeSalvo’s work as a recording artist and as a producer, recording artists including Chris Kelsey, Pat Hall, Tom Cabrera, Julie Lyon, Lee Marvin, Bob Rodriguez, Rocco John Iacovone, Matt Lavelle, Lewis Porter, the groups Sumari, Fulminate Trio, Kotka and others.

Unseen Rain currently has almost 60 titles in print and focuses on High Definition Downloads.

Regular gigs with Jack DeSalvo’s Standards Trio with D3 cohorts Tony DeCicco and Bruce Ditmas led to the recording Heliconia (UR9991) and Starlight (UR9990).

Besides various guitars and mandolin, DeSalvo performs on cello and mandola and a small, high-tuned alto guitar. Tom Cabrera and Jack DeSalvo’s duo recordings are graced by Cabrera’s ever growing percussion set-up and DeSalvo’s cello, mandola and myriad guitars. This duo has generated four albums so far, Tales of Coming Home (UR9986), Libra Moon (UR9978), Juniper (UR9966) and While We Sleep (UR9946).

Considering DeSalvo has performed on or produced almost 60 Unseen Rain recordings to date it is best to illustrate this via his UR discography –

Artist Title UR Cat# DeSalvo’s Role
Nicole Johäntgen, Jack DeSalvo UR9925 classical guitar, producer
Zone Zone UR9927 guitar, producer
Guilermo Bazzola, Risto Vuolane, Fernando Lamas Kotka UR9928 executive producer
Sumari Live at Scholes St. Studio UR9929 guitar, banjo, producer
Sumari Sumari III UR9930 guitar, bass ukelele, producer
Pat Hall’s Time Remembered Organ Group Live at Shapeshiter Lab UR9931 producer
Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses Roulette Concert UR9932 guitar, banjo, bass ukelele, producer
Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses End Times UR9933 banjo, producer
Matt Lavelle Quartet Matt Lavelle Quartet UR9934 producer
Tom Cabrera Trio with Bob Rodriguez, Mark Hagan What I’ve Found UR9935 producer
Joel Shapira Bottomless Pit UR9936 executive producer
Rich Rosenthal Quartet Live at Quinn’s UR9937 executive producer
Sumari Sumari II UR9938 guitar, producer
Lewis Porter Plays Jack DeSalvo UR9939 producer
Dom Minasi, Jack DeSalvo Soldano Dieci Anni UR9940 guitar, producer
Chris Kelsey Chris Kelsey Quintet UR9941 guitar, producer
Bob Rodriguez, Lee Marvin, Krestin Osgood RMO UR9942 producer
Happy House Happy House Plays Ornette UR9943 producer
Blaise Siwula with Dmitry Ishenko, Dave Miller Remolina UR9944 producer
Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses End Times UR9945 banjo, producer
Jack DeSalvo with Tom Cabrera While We Sleep UR9946 acoustic and classical guitars, cello, mandola, bass ukelele, producer
Rocco John Quartet Embrace The Change UR9947 producer
Julie Lyon Moonflower UR9948 guitar. mandola, producer
Fulminate Trio: Michael Evans, Ken Filiano, Anders Nilsson Triangulation UR9949 producer
Jack DeSalvo, Arthur Lipner, Bob Rodriguez, Todd Urban, Jon Berger The Crossing UR9950 electric and classical guitars, producer
Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses Solidarity UR9951 banjo, producer
Joris Teepe, Josh Evans, Adam Kolker, Jon Davis, Mike Clark Workaholic UR9952 producer
Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro: Harmolodic Monk Harmolodic Monk UR9953 producer
Julie Lyon Quintet Julie UR9957 guitar, producer
Pat Hall, Bill Evans, Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis, Marvin Sewell, Mike Campenni Time Remembered UR9960 producer
Chris Kelsey with Lewis Porter piano, Jack DeSalvo cello, Joe Gallant bass, Dave Miller drums The Change of The Face of The Century of Jazz To Come UR9961 cello, producer
Lavelle, DeSalvo, Cabrera Sumari UR9962 cello, mandola, guitar, producer
Joel Shapira, Jack DeSalvo Inherence UR9963 guitar, producer
Lewis Porter Trio Trio Solo UR9964 producer
Lewis Porter, Jack DeSalvo, Joe Gallant, Alan Lerner One Up One Down Live From Nowhere UR9965 guitar, producer
Cabrera and DeSalvo Juniper UR9966 mandola, cello, classical, electric, and 12-string slide guitars, producer
Steve Cohn, Matt Lavelle, Jack DeSalvo, Michael Evans Cohn, Lavelle, DeSalvo, Evans UR9970 cello, mandola, alto guitar, producer
D3 plus Matt Lavelle Offworld UR9972 guitar, producer
Rob Reich, Gandharva Earl Sauls, Jerrold Kavanagh These Moments UR9974 producer
Bob Rodriguez, Lee Marvin, Bruce Ditmas Things I Meant To Say UR9975 producer
Steve Cohn Round The World UR9977 producer
DeSalvo, Cabrera Libra Moon UR9978 mandola, cello, acoustic guitar
Matt Lavelle, Ras Moshe, Tom Zlabinger, Tom DeSteno Send Out Signals UR9979 producer
Herb Kloss, Jack DeSalvo, Tom Cabrera Lion Hearted UR9980 classical guitar, cello
Bob Rodriguez, Lee Marvin, Krestin Osgood Fish Cannot Leave Deep Water UR9981 producer
John Korchok, Frank Jolliffe, Bob Siebert, Steve Orbach Artcrime UR9982 producer
Steve Cohn Anspruchsvoll UR9983 producer
Pat Hall K3rnelPaN1c UR9985 guitar, slide guitar, producer
Jack DeSalvo Tales of Coming Home UR9986 acoustic guitar, mandolin, producer
Jack DeSalvo Jubilant Rain UR9987 classical guitar, producer
Jack DeSalvo Pramantha UR9988 acoustic and 12-string guitars
Jack DeSalvo, Chris Kelsey, Peter Herbert, Bruce Ditmas Sudden Moves UR9989 guitar, producer
D3 Starlight UR9990 guitar, producer
Jack DeSalvo Heliconia UR9991 guitar, producer
Jack DeSalvo, Dan Willis, Lee Marvin, Jon Berger River Road UR9994 guitar, mandola, mandolin, producer
Sam Morrison and D3 Over the Edge UR9995 guitar, producer
Kelsey, Tedesco, DeSalvo Stutches UR9996 banjo, mandolin,electric and classical guitars, co-producer
Tom DeSteno, Jack DeSalvo, Mark Hagan Coriolis Sky UR9999 guitar, co-producer

 

Jack DeSalvo lives near NYC and in addition to recording and performing on acoustic, electric, archtop, classical, alto, slide and-lap steel guitars, cello, mandola, mandolin, banjo, harmonica and other instruments he spends his time composing and teaching.

Copyright © 2013 Jack DeSalvo Music

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Frances Paul (Paricio)
    March 15, 2013

    You have certainly made good use of the last 30-odd years. 😉

  2. Leave a Reply

    David DeFilippo
    August 23, 2014

    Well done, Well done.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Don Volenik
    April 25, 2017

    Love your music. This from a musician who has gone from playing all kinds of gigs over the years to now playing no gigs unless it’s new and creative music. Hopefully we can hear you sometime soon in the Cleveland/northeast Ohio region.

    • Leave a Reply

      admin
      January 12, 2018

      Hey Frank – yes we could be related! I will check out your soundcloud link.

      Jack

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