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Recently back from Shanghai and Beijing, legendary jazz guitarist Jimmy Bruno provides insight into his career – with some personal pics and videos. Jimmy also offers great advice for players.

JGT:  Lots of the younger players put you in the of their list of influences…  How does that feel, have you ever been aware of your impact on jazz guitar?

That is surprising to me… I have never heard that before. While it is very flattering, I would urge younger players to find their own voice and sound.  It’s OK to copy another one’s style but it is more important to find your own musical vocabulary. Have your own sense of time and melodic and harmonic vocabulary.

James Chirillo, Frank Vignola and Jimmy at the Iridium NY

JGT:  You’ve had a big health scare, near death, and now you’re back and more popular than ever… how does that feel?

LOL, well it feels a lot better than being DEAD… makes me wonder why I am still here.  Never take your talent for granted, it can end in a blink of an eye. I have since been very careful to not waste a note, phrase or an harmonic idea…Also, listen to horn players and pianists.

JGT:  How has your approach to music changed over the years…  You seem to be playing differently than a few years ago… do you want to talk about that?

Tough question. It’s difficult to evaluate or observe one’s own playing. At first I think I have become more focused on harmonic movement, how notes move within a chord to the next chord.  I try to hear that movement and reflect that in my single note playing.

JGT: The business of jazz is a tough one… any advice for the young guys coming up?

Jimmy Bruno: Be true to yourself, your own musical ideas and aesthetic.

Be on time, never fool around with drugs or alcohol. It is a waste of money and your time.  Pot, for example, makes you think you sound great while in reality, you are sucking at making music.  And to top it off, the drug will tell your mind “hey, wait, I have to be relaxed or more in tune with myself”. TOTAL BS!!!  Don’t let drugs trick your mind and feelings. You will never fool an educated audience.  

A very special guitar for Jimmy…

JGT:  Do you have a dream gig or group of guys you would like to gig/jam with both living and passed?

Fortunately, I have played with all my favorite guitar players,  horn and piano guys, some have now since passed…  I would love to have played with Parker, Coltrane Bill Evans .. too many to list.  When I was much younger I had the good luck to play with musicians that were older, had more experience and played better than me.

JGT:  Any other advice for young players?

Yes, study with someone who is actively performing.

JGT: Thanks Jimmy – and continued success!

JGT Exclusive: Check out some of Jimmy’s personal photos.

Jimmy Bruno in concert – Photo credit Andrew Lepley

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