Guitarist Sal Salvador's (1928 - 1999) career paralleled those of Johnny Smith, Chuck Wayne, Jimmy Raney and Mundell Lowe. In fact, from his earliest days in New York, Sal Salvador was in an elite group of guitarists that came up in the 1940's. Before he was known as a featured soloist in his own right, he appeared as part of the rhythm section on an early Mundell Lowe recording, became friends with and was mentored by Johnny Smith and jammed with his room mates Jimmy Raney and Tal Farlow. And, although some of them might be better known outside of jazz guitar circles, Sal Salvador was their equal in every way.
Sal Salvador started out professionally in the 1940's. He worked for a number of years on the road perfecting his playing and then moved into the studios. He was on the staff of Columbia Records and at the Radio City Music Hall in the late 1940's and early 1950's. In the early 1950's he joined Stan Kenton's Band where he was a featured soloist. After two years with Kenton he formed his own quartet making some recordings under his own name for the first time in 1954 and 1955. In 1958 he was featured at the Newport Jazz Festival with his performance captured for posterity in the feature film/video Jazz on a Summer's Day.
Sal Salvador was certainly one of the most active guitarists in the last half of the 20th century from this elite group. (Mundell Lowe being another). And, when you follow his career through his many recordings it is easy to conclude he was also one of the most versatile guitarists and musicians from this list.
In recordings from early in his career he already exhibited an exceptional comping and rhythm guitar which was utilized by Mundell Lowe on his 1954 recording The Mundell Lowe Quintet. At the same time, his single note solo playing had reached a very advanced level. The recording from the same period The Sal Salvador Quintet demonstrated the single note playing style that would become the hallmark of this guitarists' outstanding career. And throughout his career he played successfully in a wide variety of venues from the small group to the big band, to the duet, always bringing something new to these settings.
In the 1990's Sal Salvador was one of the outstanding teachers of jazz guitar method and technique. He produced a long list of books and videos covering all aspects of jazz guitar playing. He also contributed lessons to Just Jazz Guitar and taught at his studios in Connecticut and New York.
Stand Kenton is quoted on the back of the 1954 LP Sal Salvador as saying, "Sal Salvador's life has no meaning without jazz; he is completely dedicated to his guitar. He is not in music as an experiment; music dominates all else in his thoughts. If not performing, his time is sent in practice and study. There is no doubt within him as to his goal. Constantly developing musically, and growing intellectually, his success is positive."
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