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Bruce Forman, Jazz Guitar’s Renaissance Cowboy



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In this JGT Video Podcast, Bob Bakert speaks to guitarist Bruce Forman about his new album, Reunion! and about a special guitar he used on the project.

Bob Bakert, Editor of JGT: So, where did you develop the skill to hold a conversation and play at the same time?

Bruce: I always seemed to be able to hold a conversation and play…hey…it’s the same thing when you’re playing! When I was a little kid playing classical piano, family and friends always talked to me, it didn’t seem like a big deal? But the pivotal moment was my 24th birthday…in Denver. I was leading a quartet, and the crowd was buying shots for me…Mexican Flags (tequila, creme de menthe, and 151 rum…on fire!). It was a normal thing to play a really fast tune, and for me to stop the band and play some unaccompanied choruses. This night, it was Cherokee…really fast…and when the band stopped I kept playing, and then started telling jokes at the same time. That was when I realized I had this thing together, and since then, it’s really no big deal.

Bruce Forman with John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton – “Reunion!” 

Jazz Guitar Today reached out to people in the world of jazz guitar to ask some questions.

Peter Henriksen: Do you have a favorite “under 30” guitarist you’ve taught or worked with? Who is up and coming?

Bruce: Having been around for a while, I have a bunch of fave people who I’ve hung with both under and over 30. I don’t like these questions, because I know I’m gonna leave some people and feel bad about it and worry about hurting their feelings. Some I have hung with, who are amazing players: Charles Altura, Julian Lage, Charlie Hunter, Colin Cook, Eli Koskoff..and there are a number of amazing students at USC right now who have the ability to rock the world…it all depends on where they go, and, of course…fortune/luck or whatever you want to call it?

Bruce and Dizzy Gillespie

Peter Henriksen: If you have one greatest takeaway from the pandemic and quarantine, what is it? What’s the biggest change you see?

Bruce: I think it’s too early to tell. A huge change has happened and we are at the very beginning of the ramifications of it. However, I prefer to dwell on the positive…it has enabled me to live at home for more than a week or two, (that’s really cool, and I’d always thought it was for squares), having time to just play the music I like without any gig pressure on it has been a revelation, embracing certain aspects of technology and developing a community that is far wider than possible in the old paradigm are all positive aspects I think. 

Bruce in Italy

Guitarist Ted Ludwig: What was the inspiration for Red Guitar?

Bruce: First of all, my relation to music, and everything, is storytelling. I write novels, I am a comedian (you’ve heard my playing?) and it’s all about that fundamental human thing. There were already some great templates with The Red Shoes and The Red Violin. And I had gotten an amazing red guitar made by Stefan Sonntag. So, put together my passion for the music and its history, my infatuation with the instrument, my writing and poetry…my love of entertaining, and my ability to talk and play at the same time…I think it’s kind of obvious…although it took me a while to put it all together and to take that step to commit to it. 

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