What’s Hot With Jazz Guitar: Kevin Van Sant

This week we feature jazz guitarist Kevin Van Sant. He has 5 Cds to his credit. Good stuff. Be sure to check him out…

Online Bio from Kevin Van Sant in his own words:

“I was born in Princeton, NJ. From an early age I was interested in music. I first discovered jazz music from a Concord guitar sampler tape I found in Indonesia where I lived in the late 1970’s. I was fascinated and drawn to that music but at the same time it was over my head. I started playing guitar seriously and began playing in rock bands during junior high school and later joined the jazz ensemble in high school where I was awarded the Louis Armstrong Award. After high school I continued playing in rock bands, performing up and down the East Coast. It was then when I began to seriously listen to jazz music as my interest in rock was fading. During those years I spent endless hours composing and recording multi-part guitar music on a 4-track recorder. In 1990 all of those efforts culminated in a self-produced record of original compositions entitled Electric Impressions. (The music of Electric Impressions can now be heard online) Shortly after that I gave up rock music and turned all my attention to studying jazz.

My independent study of jazz music consisted mostly of scouring the used record stores for all the jazz records I could find and spending hours everyday playing along with the jazz greats. I also set a goal for myself to learn at least two new songs per week. After a while I started organizing jam sessions with friends and began playing jazz gigs.

In 1996 two friends and I formed a jazz trio called J’Azure. J’Azure became my primary group for about three years. During that time we released two CDs, appeared on TV and radio, and performed around the world in places such as Russia, Spain, Holland, and Switzerland. When J’Azure traveled to Russia in 1997 it was as part of a cultural exchange. In addition to about a dozen or so concerts we also conducted master classes for music students at the conservatory in the city of Saratov. J’Azure twice participated in the Montreux Jazz Festival, performing there in both 1998 and 1999. And in 1998 J’Azure performed at the Jazz Brevard music festival in Western North Carolina for a concert that was taped by Brandford Marsalis’ radio program “Jazz Set”.

In recent years I have spent more time freelancing and leading trios and quartets. I currently have several established projects including the Orgaphinics, an organ trio, and the Van Sant / Palmer Duo with bassist Ben Palmer. I was invited back to the Montreux Festival again in 2000, this time it was the Van Sant / Palmer duo which made the trip. Our duo has since established a unique relationship with the festival and we have returend to perform every year.

Some of my main early musical influences include Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, Ahmad Jamal, John Coltrane, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Donald Byrd, Cannonball Adderly, Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Bobby Watson, Red Garland and guitarists Jim Hall, Barney Kessell, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Raney, Charlie Christian, Tal Farlow, Pat Metheny, Joe Pass…….. among many others. And now I continue to be inspired by some of the younger players who are making great jazz music today, players such as Brad Mehldau, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Brian Blade, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter… really, the list would be far to long.

I continue to actively perform and compose jazz music in the Triangle NC area and around the world.”

Read from Kevin’s website and soundclips at: http://www.kevinvansant.com/

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. Doc endorse Heritage Guitars and is a featured artist on their website. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps, great for jazz (and anything else!)

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