Over the last 20 years, Rick Stone has been developing original compositions — some with a more contemporary leaning, but always rooted in bop. Bebop, that is.
The jazz guitarist, whose Rick Stone Trio will perform at Sunday, Aug. 7, became enamored with bebop in 1974, the year he graduated from Valley Forge High School in Parma.
“I was hanging out in a friends basement in what probably looked like a scene from That '70s Show when Sonny Stitt (jazz/bebop saxophone player) came on the WMMS Live from the Smiling Dog broadcast,” Stone said via email after getting home from a two-week concert tour in Italy. “Growing up in Parma, I'd never really heard any bebop before, and I was just dazzled by it.”
Stone, who started playing guitar in 1964 at age 9, and his friend Mitch Tabol, who lived across the street, practiced rock songs by The Ventures and other rock musicians on the back porch as kids. Friends from the neighborhood came out to listen.
His focus changed to blues when he heard Johnny Winter's album Progressive Blues Experiment while exploring Higbee's record department at Westgate Mall.
“I was just completely blown away by it,” said Stone, who plans to release a book of guitar transcriptions later this year.
His appreciation for such rock guitarists as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, as well as the blues guitarists who influenced them —including “the three Kings:” B.B., Freddie and Albert — amplified his interest in blues until it became what Stone described as an obsession.
Stone shifted gears again after moving to New York City in 1982 and studying with Barry Harris at the Jazz Cultural Theatre.
Harris is “largely overlooked by the mainstream media, as are most jazz artists, but is one of the greatest jazz pianists and teachers of all time,” said Stone, who currently teaches at Hofstra University, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and Jazzmobile Workshop.
“Barry helped me put so many things into perspective about the music that I'd venture to say he may be the main influence on my playing," Stone said. "More than anybody else, Barry has codified the ‘rules’ for playing bebop into a cohesive system, and though I sometimes chose to go in a more modern direction, everything I play still has its roots in Bebop. And I teach in a very similar manner to that which I learned from Barry.”
The Rick Stone Trio’s latest CD, Fractals, is in its third week on Jazzweek's Top 50 Jazz albums.
Stone recorded Fractals with his “working group” in New York: bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Tom Pollard. Dave Morgan and Ron Godale, veterans of the Cleveland jazz scene, will help him recreate the music at Nighttown.
“I always look forward to seeing and playing with them when I'm in town,” Stone said. “We plan to have a great time doing some of the music from the new CD and maybe a few other surprises thrown in as well. It's always a fun Sunday night hang at Nighttown!”
The Rick Stone Trio’s CD release event begins at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, at Nighttown, 12387 Cedar Road. Admission: $10. Visit Rick Stone’s website to download a free track from Fractals and listen to samples from all his recordings.