The continuing success of the "Blue Guitar" exhibition was extolled once again at yet another sold-out concert featuring jazz virtuoso Martin Taylor and well-known rock guitarist Steve Howe at the Smithsonian’s Carmichael Auditorium on January 28th.

The concert was the second in an ongoing series being performed in honor of the 22 stunning blue archtop guitars from the Chinery Collection currently on display at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History. These guitars were commissioned by Scott Chinery in 1998, to mark a century since the first archtop was patented in 1898.


The May 1997 Benedetto Players in Concert performance: Back row: Gerry Beaudoin, Ed & Phyllis Benson, Andy MacKenzie, Cindy & Bob Benedetto and Randall Kremer. Front row: Jack Wilkins, Howard Alden, Jimmy Bruno, Frank Vignola and Adrian Ingram. Not shown: Andy Summers. Photo: Gerhard Burda

Preceding the concert was an interview with foremost archtop guitarmaker Robert Benedetto and Canadian maker Linda Manzer. Both luthiers were asked a variety of questions regarding their painstaking and beautiful art by popular National Public Radio personality Tom Cole, whose G-Strings show has aired in the D.C. area for over 20 years. All three enjoyed a comfortable banter to the delight of the audience who were further satisfied when the two makers fielded questions from the crowd. Benedetto praised Scott Chinery, owner of the Collection: "Scott was perceptive enough to give a few guidelines to the makers of the blue guitars, giving us the chance to be innovative." Linda Manzer thanked Chinery; "whose vision and concept made this celebration of the art of lutherie possible."


Martin Taylor performs on the Benedetto "La Cremona Azzurra" at the Smithsonian's Blue Guitar concert in January 1998. Photo: Michael G. Stewart

Martin Taylor opened the concert performance by playing the Benedetto La Cremona Azzurra with a series of intriguing fingerstyle arrangements of jazz and pop standards, including "Mona Lisa", "My Funny Valentine" and "I Got Rhythm". Masterfully played, "[Taylor’s] remarkably fluid tough imbued several pieces with a seamless beauty", said noted Washington Post music critic Mike Joyce. Steve Howe played his rare Martin flattop on tunes including "Masquerade" and "I Stole Along The Way", rousing the audience to tap their toes along at one point, and then joined Martin for the final set on several of the other blue guitars.

The "Blue Guitar" exhibition and concert series have been supported by a gift from The Chinery Collection.


John Pizzarelli and father Bucky jam on Blues at the Blue Guitar exhibit's Smithsonian debut, November 1997. John is playing the Benedetto La Cremona Azzurra; Bucky performs on the Manzer Blue Absynthe. Photo: Cindy Benedetto

After the Blue guitar concert: John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli, Bob Benedetto Randall Kremer and Berklee's Charles Chapman. Photo: Cindy Benedetto

NPR radio host Tom Cole, Bob Benedetto, Martin Taylor, Linda Manzer, Scott Chinery,
Blue Guitar author Ken Vose,American History Program director Howard Bass, Steve Howe and Smithsonian Public Affairs director Randall Kremer, following the Taylor/Howe Blue Guitar concert, January 1998 at the Smithsonian.
Photo: Cindy Benedetto.

NPR radio host Tom Cole interviews Bob Benedetto at the Smithsonian.
Photo: Michael G. Stewart

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