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Interview With Jazz Guitarist, Educator, And Composer, Dan Arcamone



Jazz Guitar Today contributor Joe Barth interviews Norwalk, Connecticut’s jazz guitarist Dan Arcamone.

A great guitarist around the southwest Connecticut area is Dan Arcamone.  Dan divides his time between being a gigging guitarist, an educator, and a composer.  It has been said that Dan has a “powerful yet elegant” approach to his playing.

JB:  How old were you when you started to play jazz guitar and what was most helpful in your personal development as a guitarist?

DA:  I started playing jazz guitar as a senior in high school when friends asked me to join the jazz band with them. I ended up going to Western Connecticut State University for jazz guitar after that. I think what was most helpful was having great teachers in both high school and college and being able to play with different people a lot. 

Dan Arcamone

 JB:  To you, what are three of the most influential jazz guitar albums and why? 

DA: Pat Metheny Group’s The Road To You was one of the first albums I remember loving. I bought it at Sally’s Place in Westport, CT when I was in high school and listened to it a lot when I was starting. Pat Metheny is always incredibly melodic and has so much control over the guitar with everything he does. 

The next album that stands out is Interchange by Pat Martino. My teacher, Chris Morrison, in college, told me to check out Pat Martino. I was into rock stuff growing up and I think Chris knew that Pat Martino would appeal to me. I was hooked right away and was attracted to how powerful his playing was. I wanted to be able to play long lines like him. 

In college, I was also turned on to Allan Holdsworth’s None Too Soon which is still one of my favorites. All three of these guitarists are unique, melodic, harmonically interesting, and wrote beautiful compositions. 

JB:  What is the musical climate like for you as a guitarist in the Norwalk, CT area, or is your focus in New York City?

DA:  There are opportunities to play in different clubs around the state. I tend to only book shows if I’m able to play original music with my group. Places like Black Eyed Sally’s in Hartford do a nice job of getting different groups to play weekly and having a space for musicians to meet and play together in a jam session. I like that place in Connecticut. When I was younger I would go into New York more to play. As I’ve gotten older I’ve focused more on recording and teaching. I can be a bit of a recluse these days.  

JB:  Tell us about the guitar that you use.

DA: I’ve been playing Canton Custom Instruments since around 2009. I met Rick on MySpace and we became friends. We started talking about music and guitars and I’ve been playing his guitars since.  

JB:  What amp do you use?

DA: I’m currently using a Quilter Tone Block 202. I use it with their Block Dock 12 Speaker Cab. I use effects all the time. I usually have a Marktronics Overdrive Pedal in front of whichever amp I play through to shape the tone and feel of the amp. 

JB:  Tell me about one of your CD albums.

DA: The last album I released, Standards Vol. 2, is a collection of songs from the 80s and 90s mainly that I arranged to fit into my way of playing. I had done an album previously where we recorded more traditional jazz repertoire but as I started arranging songs for the second volume I gravitate towards songs outside of jazz that could be considered standards in their own genres. The arrangements on the recording revolve around chord-melody arrangements with solo sections like a typical jazz recording. It’s one of my favorite recordings I’ve done because it includes all the different types of music I love. 

JB:  Talk about your work with John Stowell.

DA: I met John as an undergrad in the late 1990s when Chris Morrison brought him in for a masterclass. We connected again during the pandemic and I would meet up with him for guitar hangs. When things began getting back to normal, John came out and we played a concert together about a year and a half ago. A month ago, we recorded an album of standards together which will be released later this year. I’ve studied John’s materials/playing on and off since I met him in the 90s. His concepts of playing have shaped the way I look at guitar and music a lot. 

JB:  What advice would you give to young jazz guitarists?

DA: Spend time on the things you love to do. Play with people that you have fun playing with. Don’t be afraid to reach out to musicians that you look up to. Take lessons from people you’re into if possible. Create and work on things that bring you happiness. If it feels right to you then it’s right.  

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