Alex de Grassi
Often cited as one of the worlds top fingerstyle, steel-string acoustic guitarists, Grammy finalist Alex de Grassi is renowned for his impeccable technique, innovative artistry and compelling compositions. His career has drawn acclaim for his 14 recordings released by Windham Hill, RCA Novus, Tropo Records, 33rd Street, and other labels, as well as for his live performances as a soloist and within ensemble settings.
His latest release, Now and Then: Folk Songs for the 21st Century (33rd Street Records), is a solo guitar recording featuring contemporary arrangements of 11 treasured tunes from the American standards repertoire. Guest artists Michael Manring and Joe Craven join de Grassi on two tracks. Now and Then is AlexÃ¢ÂÂs attempt to tell a few American stories and weave a musical fabric whose threads reach through time to unite the present with the past...music for now and then. "In rediscovering these songs," he explains, "I came to appreciate the maxim that folk music is a living tradition, and that each generation will find relevance and a way to reinterpret these songs. In that spirit, I have arranged traditional melodies to reflect the musical idioms and social climate of today's multi-cultural landscape."
Such a broad and creative vision is to be expected from de Grassi. Born in Yokosuka, Japan, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Alex was exposed from his earliest years to a variety of musical influences. His grandfather led a string quartet and was violinist with the San Francisco Symphony. His father was trained in classical piano, while his mother was a fan of jazz. "The two recordings I heard the most as a child," de Grassi recalls, "were Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 and the Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald version of Porgy & Bess." His first instrument was trumpet, but at age 13 de Grassi switched to guitar and began playing folk and blues and popular music. Early influences include British fingerstyle acoustic guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn,
American innovators Leo Kottke, John Fahey and Ralph Towner, and much of the rock, pop and jazz music of the Sixties. Though largely self-taught, de Grassi briefly studied jazz guitar with noted teacher Bill Thrasher while attending the University of California at Santa Barbara, and took music courses while pursuing a degree in Economic
Geography at the University of California at Berkeley. Since embarking on a recording and concert career, Alex has continued to study classical and jazz guitar. He has also studied jazz piano with Bay Area great Mark Levine as well as composition with the
renowned teacher and author William A. Mathieu.
De Grassi recorded his first album, Turning: Turning Back, in 1978 for Will Ackerman's start-up Windham Hill label (Acoustic Guitar magazine cites this album among the top ten essential fingerstyle recordings). The overwhelmingly positive response to the album and the follow-u
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