Esmond Selwyn -1948~
Esmond Selwyn has long been recognized as one of the UK’s greatest performing jazz guitarists and jazz educators. With a list of reviews and credits almost too numerous to mention, the quality of his playing has been formally acknowledged by some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians.
After Esmond had played a set at Ronnie Scott’s Club with Bill le Sage he was to receive a most memorable accolade from legendary Miles Davis tenor sax sideman, George Coleman “You sound great, boy!” From Tony Mottola, Frank Sinatra’s guitarist, a personal letter reads “You have great chops! (technique) My pleasure these days comes from listening to great jazz guitarists such as yourself..”
In his monumental work, “The Great Jazz Guitarists”, Ivor Mairants writes “Esmond has, in my opinion, a fingerboard technique second to none…”
Trained with Chuck Wayne.
This very much influenced his legato flowing technique along with close study of Parker and Coltrane.
Esmond has shared the bill at international jazz festivals with Chick Corea, Elvin Jones, Charlie Byrd and has accompanied visiting American stars, Art Farmer, Redd Rodney, Bobby Shew, Al Cohn and Jimmy Witherspoon :
I promised you a Django anecdote –
way back in 1938, my Dad, Frank Selwyn, lived in Ilford and Django was due to appear at the Shepherds Bush Empire. My Dad was 13 at the time. He and his cousins only had enough money either for the fare across London or to get in and see Django. So they walked 12 miles from Ilford – paid to see Django – and then walked back again. It was a story told and retold in my family and Django had a major influence in my formative years. Best wishes, Esmond Selwyn – Guitarist
Esmond Selwyn Interviews – Riff Radio
Esmonds first guitar was purchased by his dad for £10 in 1958 when he was only 10 years old – a weeks wages then for his father and certainly not the best Guitar in the world but enough to get him started on extending his Django simulations. he moved on to Charlie Christian and was also taught by Ivor Mariants and the as they say the rest is history……
Esmond currently plays a much modified Blonde finish Gibson ES-175c Electric Archtop with a Florentine Cut-out with an inset Charlie Christian style bar pickup and added bridge Piezo pickup to his own custom specification to achieve a really mellow sound. Esmond is also totally delighted with his custom designed valve amplifier made especially for him by Engineer, David Lunt of Manchester Road, Stockport.
When the ES-175 debuted with a run of 129 in 1949, it nudged aside the ES-150, which had been the guitar of choice for jazz innovators like Charlie Christian and Eddie Durham. The ES-175 also proved a more manageable and less costly alternative to the L-5s thanks to its smaller body size and laminated top. It has a single pointed cutaway, sunk in cavity pickup in the neck position, bound body top and back , double parallelogram fingerboard inlays and were made in natural and sunburst finishes . The ES-175 was played by jazz guitar virtuosos like Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall, Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, Pat Metheny, and some rock guitarists such as Steve Howe, Mark Knopfler and more.
Esmond Selwyn has such astounding technique that you wonder why he’s not better known stateside.
The Axe, recorded ‘live’ (two-thirds in-studio, one-third on-gig), is somewhat frustrating: the one-take-only vibe of the album generates palatable excitement, demonstrating that Selwyn’s jazz spirit is alive and well, but the guitarist’s predilection for mid-range chord voicing’s stands out.
The playing is outstanding and inspired, bringing life to a who’s who of standard chestnuts: “Stella by Starlight” is boppy and full of brio, rippling with muscular, daredevil lines that match with charisma what they have in accuracy; “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ is contemplative, laced with spicy chromatics and spacey meanderings; and “All the Things You Are” is a tour-de-force, a fast and furious two-way conversation of juxtaposed registers