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Exclusive JGT Interview with Jazz Guitarist Ron Affif

Thomas Amoriello Jr.

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Another great jazz artist who was a part of the legendary Pablo Records roster is the Pittsburgh native Ron Affif.  

Bebop skills, a fighter lineage, and being a player’s player have earned Affif the respect of his peers and jazz club frequenters alike. Jazz Guitar Today would like to thank Mr. Ron Affif for this exclusive interview.  


JGT: Do you have any advice when approaching “horn line phrasing” in creative ways?

I always sing what I play. I think it helps a string player breath. I love when an arrangement has a lot of ink for the Guitar. I think the Guitar has such a great blending sound with horns. Breathe what you play that’s my advice. 


JGT: Unfortunately jazz guitar great Ron Anthony recently passed.  He was Frank Sinatra’s guitarist for a decade in addition to your uncle and teacher.  If you would like to pay tribute and say a few words about his talent and your love for him?

Ron Affif with the late Ron Anthony

 I always felt great Love from him and for him. He showed me everything about being a professional musician. He was my mom Marlene’s brother but it was my father Charlie who insisted I be named Ron also. My parents were as musically soulful as anyone, they saw what Uncle Ron was. Someone who loved what he did for a living. Thanks Uncle Ron for giving me the life of music. I hope playing live comes back the world needs it as much as musicians do.


JGT: The Pittsburgh legend Joe Negri of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fame was also somebody who was influential to you in your youth and your father was a boxer (Charley Zivic) who was a friend of Miles Davis? I guess you never really get star struck after all that? 

Joe played guitar duo with uncle Ron at my Uncle’s wedding probably 1976, it completely blew my mind. My family also gave me a Harmony acoustic guitar that night. I took a few lessons from Joe after I had been already gigging a little bit. He told me “Just go play gigs you know what you need to do”.   The older I get I only appreciate more how lucky I was to be in such a family of music lovers. Boxing and Jazz are clearly connected, my father moved differently when the band was swinging. Miles sought my dad out because of his appreciation of boxing. Every time George Benson came to hear me play I was completely star-struck even after he’s gone to my gigs, hung out, or whatever. 


JGT: You were also releasing recordings on the old Pablo Records label and were in good company on that legendary label?

I caught the end of an era I think. Pablo was reissuing all of their stuff on CD so all they really wanted from their current artists were good reviews. I got to be label mates with Joe Pass. He and my Uncle Ron were good friends. I went to Joe’s house and he came and sat with us when I had gigs in L.A. I was produced by Eric Miller who also was Joe’s producer. Some great hangs let me tell you. 

JGT: Please tell JGT readers about your favorite aspects of the Buscarino instrument that you employ in relation to playing within an ensemble as well as solo?                      

I remember John Buscarino called me to have a guitar made but I wasn’t familiar with his work so told him to send me something. He told me he had something with some minor imperfections but the wood was special. Once I played the first chord I just kept it. It’s also a great recording guitar. It’s great in every setting. I’m very lucky to have it.

JGT: Any new projects for 2021-2022 that you care to share with JGT readers?

I just pray there can be more work for musicians as I said we all need Live Music. Stay Well everybody. 

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