What’s Hot With Jazz Guitar: Adam Rafferty

by Doc Dosco

This week we feature the very fine New York jazz guitarist Adam Rafferty.

Online Bio

Steeped in the music of the bebop era and well-versed in the organ combo style as codified by Wes Montgomery and George Benson, Adam Rafferty has established himself as one of the most refined, recognizable guitarists in New York. His playing is distinguished by a warm tone, a biting attack, and an ability to swing hard – and melodically – in every situation. His chops are abundant, yet he makes a point of avoiding technical displays, seeking instead to lock in with his band and make

every moment count. Adam's exceptional musicianship can be heard to full effect on his third CD (and his first trio outing), “Kush” (Consolidated Artists Productions 955), featuring music by Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and of course, Adam Rafferty.

Born in New York City in 1969, Adam got his start playing with rock and R&B bands, and even co-led a rap group called “Raf and Cooly-C.” He studied classical guitar at SUNY Purchase, but around 1987 he caught the jazz bug and began intensive studies with pianist Mike Longo, a member of Dizzy Gillespie's bands from '64 to '71. From Mike, Adam learned not only harmony and theory, but also the rhythmic principles that form the foundation of jazz – principles that Mike had learned from Dizzy

Gillespie himself. Indeed, it is Adam's firm grasp of rhythm – his unfailing “pocket” – that sets his playing apart. He soon had gigs lined up in Harlem with organist Jimmy “Preacher” Robbins and trumpeter Tippy Larkin. Over the years he has supported groups featuring Frank Wess, Benny Golson, Gloria Lynn, and more.

In 1993, while still in his early 20s, Adam released his debut CD, “First Impressions” (CAP 905), on which he is backed by the Mike Longo Trio. His second release, “Blood, Sweat & Bebop” (CAP 937), which featured not only Mike but also the renowned bassist Bob Cranshaw, followed in 1998. “Kush,” his 2001 trio release, features Danton Boller on bass and Russ “Styles” Dibona on drums. And his working relationship with Mike Longo continues: Adam currently plays in the Mike Longo Big Band, and can be heard on its 2001 release, “Aftermath” (CAP 956).

Adam has also played with saxophonist Eric Person's quartet, and he recently helped launch the New York Trio Project (NYTP), a collaborative group with bassist John Menegon and drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel. The NYTP's 2001 release, “Fifth House” (Imaginary Records IMX 014), showcases Adam as the ultimate team player, contributing fiery yet tasteful insight on a set of original music and post-bop classics. Both Adam's “Kush” trio and the NYTP have toured extensively throughout Europe.

In addition to his playing, Adam is also an accomplished jazz educator. Since '96 he has run classes and clinics at the National Guitar Workshop in New Milford, Connecticut. He is also the author of a manual called “How To Develop Virtuoso Single Line Technique for Jazz Guitar,” which can be purchased at his web site, www.adamrafferty.com.

Homepage and sound clips:


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 with Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc now endorses Peerless Guitars and has the website Jazz Guitar Zone to help promote Peerless jazz guitars in the US. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps — great for jazz (and anything else!)

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