What's Hot with Jazz Guitar: Frank Gambale

by Doc Dosco

This week we feature jazz guitarist Frank Gambale.

Frank began playing guitar at age 7 in Canberra, Australia where he was
born and raised. He was influenced by the blues playing of Jimi Hendrix,
John Mayall / Eric Clapton, and Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia . In his
mid-teens he discovered Steely Dan, The Brecker Brothers and Chick
Corea, which pointed him in a jazzy direction. In 1982 at 23 he decided
to leave his home to study at the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT)
in Hollywood. He graduated with the highest honor, Student of the Year
and was offered a teaching position which he kept for 4 years. During
that time he was playing the local jazz club circuit with his own band
and already had his first book "Speed Picking" published. In 1986 he
signed a 3 album contract with a small label called Legato and began his
recording career.

The same year he was recruited by Jean-luc Ponty to tour. Shortly after
that tour, he auditioned for Chick Corea and began a 6 year stint which
culminated in 5 albums, a Grammy award and two Grammy Nominations. Chick
helped expose Frank to the world, for which he is very grateful,
"playing with Chick was like dream come true" says Frank. That same year
Ibanez guitars approached him to endorse their guitar which culminated
in a long relationship and spawned the Frank Gambale model guitar which
was first on sale worldwide in 1987. They made 4 versions of the guitar,
the FGM100, FGM200, FGM300 and FGM400.

In 1987 Frank signed a 3-video deal with DCI for instructional videos.
In 1988, Frank signed a major label deal with JVC. In 1990 he released
"Thunder From Down Under" which sold well all over the world and at one
point it was #1 on the Japanese Jazz charts along with all his three
Legato releases in the top 10 at the same time.

In 1992, Frank decided it was time to go out there on his own and has
been touring with his group ever since. He has toured in many countries
with his own band including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Australia,
Germany, Switzerland, Japan and the U.S. He has done countless seminars
and master classes worldwide to countries as far away as South Africa
and Uruguay.

In 1996 Frank was offered a position of Head of the Guitar Department of
a new musical school in the Los Angeles area called the L.A. Music
Academy (LAMA). He wrote the core curriculum/ study program for this one
year vocational school including Harmony and Theory, Improvisation,
Technique and Composition courses. The school is a great success and is
an inspirational place for guitarists the world over. He teaches one,
sometimes 2 full day a week at the school when he is in town and
maintains the guitar department, and chose the teachers.

Recently Frank began his own record label called Wombat Records on which
he re-released his early Legato catalog and has just released a new a
double live CD called Resident Alien - Live Bootlegs, and a duet CD with
Maurizio Colonna, the famous Italian Classical guitarist called Imagery
Suite. He also has signed a 2 album deal with Steve Vai's new record
company called Favored Nations. The first of these two albums has
recently been released called Coming To Your Senses, one of his
strongest albums ever. Frank has also been with the group Vital
Information for 13 years. The group includes drummer Steve Smith,
keyboardist Tom Coster and bassist Baron Browne. With this group Frank
has performed on and contributed to over 7 albums.

Another side project has been 2 trio recordings with bassist Stu Hamm
and drummer Steve Smith on Mike Varney's Tone Center records. The first
released in 1999 called Show Me What You Can Do was well received, and
the second called The Light Beyond came out in July 2000 was a strong
follow up.

Frank has recently left Ibanez for a new deal with Yamaha guitars and a
new Frank Gambale model is due out in August 2001. He keeps a busy
schedule for sure either writing for an album, book or video, touring or
helping design a new guitar model with Yamaha, or giving seminars in
Germany, or doing a session for an Italian pop record.

Frank loves his work and is happiest when working to the extreme." I
can't believe I get paid to do what I do, I wouldn't trade it for the

Frank's website:

Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in
Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com,
where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot in Jazz Guitar'
columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features.

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