Feb 04, 2013 - GUITAR SUMMIT BRINGS FOUR NOTED SOLO GUITARISTS TO JAZZ DEPOT FOR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10TH CONCERT
Tommy Crook says that there are a lot of “fine guitar players” around the Tulsa area, and he should know. When the great ones get mentioned, Oklahoma Music Hall of Famer Crook is usually at the top of the list.
“But,” he adds, “a lot of ‘em work with a bass player and a drummer, or in a band, or they sing. The reason Ron Radford chose the people he chose for this deal is that we can play solo, and that’s it. When I play, I don’t even talk.”
Organizer Radford is a former Tulsan who’s achieved an international reputation as the American master of Flamenco guitar. Now based in St. Louis, he’s scheduled to close Sunday’s show, following performances by Tulsa music veterans Crook, Mark Bruner, and Randy Wimer.
Crook says he and Radford first met back in the very early ‘60s, when Crook was lead guitarist for the Swingin’ Shadows, a rock ‘n’ roll band fronted by vocalist Jimmy Markham.
“It was at a place called the Blue Moon, which had an indoor and outdoor dancehall,” he recalls. “We were playing at the outdoor one. My friend Eddie Spraker introduced us. He said, `Tommy, here’s a guy the same age as you who’s a guitar player, too, and he goes to Will Rogers [High School].’ I was at Central.”
A few years later, when Crook was working at Tulsa’s Guitar House to supplement his performance income, Radford’s mother would have him send guitar strings and other musical necessities to her son, who was then serving in the military in Southeast Asia.
Radford went on to study with Flamenco-guitar legend Carlos Montoya and the famed classical guitarist Andres Segovia, on his way to a career that has taken him to Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and more than a dozen foreign countries. Although Crook generally stayed closer to home, developing a solid reputation as a guitarist’s guitarist, he also spent time in Southeast Asia in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, performing on several USO tours.
A few years ago, Crook was playing a regular gig at Tulsa’s TiAmo Italian Ristorante with another guitarist on Sunday’s bill, Mark Bruner. “Ron started coming out when he was in town to see Bruner and me,” says Crook. “So we got acquainted again.”
Crook subsequently moved to Lanni Thai Restaurant, where his Friday evening solo performances continue to be magnets for area music lovers and visiting musicians. Meanwhile, Bruner began working solo himself, in addition to a full slate of other musical jobs, including a standing Wednesday night gig at the Full Moon Café with fiddler Shelby Eicher and vocalist Annie Ellicott. He plays solo guitar every Monday night at the Celebrity Club, and, in February, he’s slated to return to TiAmo as a soloist.
“Becoming a solo guitarist, for me, was an evolution,” Bruner says. “I started getting real serious about it maybe 10 years ago, and around five years ago I won my first Oklahoma State Fingerstyle Guitar Championship. (He’s won four more since then.)
“My ultimate goal in my solo guitar work is to bring in as many elements from my entire career as I can – jazz, blues, pop, funk,” he adds. “Lately, I’ve really been working on the connection between African guitar music and American blues music. I’ve tried to expand my listening palate and hope that some of it finds its way into my playing.”
Randy Wimer, who’s scheduled to begin the show, has been a Tulsa musician for four decades, with wide-ranging credits running from solo work for the Tulsa Performing Arts Center to a featured spot with Tulsa’s Signature Symphony. He’s also a first-call guitarist for touring Broadway shows and has accompanied the Tulsa jazz singers Janet Rutland and Pam Van Dyke Crosby. His work as a music instructor includes positions at the University of Tulsa, Rogers State University, Northeastern State University, and Tulsa Community College, where he currently teaches guitar courses and Introduction to Music Theory.
Wimer will be followed on the stage by Bruner, Crook, and Radford.
“Ron’s doing the thing right,” says Crook. “Everybody gets thirty minutes, which is enough to play a half-dozen tunes. It’ll wind up being two hours long, and that’ll be plenty.”
The Guitar Summit is set to begin Sunday at 5:00 p.m. at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the Depot or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5. Refreshments will be available for purchase.
The concert is part of the Jazz Hall’s 2012-13 Winter Concert Series.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.