Cal Collins (1933-2001) began playing the guitar by emulating some of the pianists he heard on the radio as a young man. Nat King Cole and Art Tatum were early influences on his style. He also listened to the guitar stylings of Irving Ashby and John Collins.
As a teenager he began playing professionally in and around Cincinnati and by the early 1950's he was finding steady work at the radio studios in the area. He became and remained a staple of the Ohio and Indiana jazz scenes throughout the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's, before he was "discovered" by Benny Goodman in 1976. He spent three years with the Goodman band and was invited to join Concord Records as the house guitarist in 1977.
At Concord Records he made numerous recordings as a sideman and a series of recordings under his own name starting with Cincinnati To LA, in 1978, and the last being Ohio Style, in 1991. Some of the Concord recordings are still available, but unfortunately two very fine solo guitar albums, By Myself and Cross Country are not. On these two albums, Collins undertook the difficult format of the solo guitar. And, like George Van Eps and Bucky Pizzarelli, used the form to demonstrate his complete mastery of the instrument. Both recordings are infused with the Cal Collins style -- a mix of jazz, country picking and twang, rich full chord melody, and, the steady pulse and drive that are hallmarks of Collins' playing. His rendition of Autumn in New York is a gem, delivered by a complete musician and guitarist.
In the 1990's Cal Collins appeared on the Tribute To Wes Montgomery recordings and continued to play in and around Cincinnati.
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