Nigel Price is one of the busiest jazz musicians in the UK. When not on tour or gigging he is busy planning his next tour, and he even manages to squeeze in some studio time to make some pretty good albums too!

Quite how he manages to do it all is something of a feat of endurance, but it appears that he does find time to relax and listen to some music. Guitarists, of course!

Of his favourite albums, Nigl says:

Louis Stewart – Overdrive (1994)

Louis (affectionately know as ‘The Bebop Irishman’) is perhaps the most accomplished straight ahead guitarist to herald from these islands.

By all accounts, this album was recorded in Edinburgh on a ‘spare’ date that was right in the middle of a tour with a different band. Louis is absolutely on top of his game and his ideas are cascading non-stop from his nimble fingers.

It’s just a trio so you really get to hear every little nuance. For my money he’s never sounded better and every time I listen to it I hear something new. The references are all in there. Jimmy Raney, Wes, Tal Farlow, but ultimately Louis created his own language, and in doing so set the bar so very high.

Kenny Burrell – A Night at the Village Vanguard (1959)

Yes – it’s another guitar trio album!

Kenny tended to surround himself with larger bands so it that sense this isn’t necessarily his ‘bread and butter’ but he absolutely eats it up, delivering chorus after chorus of his brand of bluesy, deft yet chunky jazz lines. Roy Haynes almost steals the show with his brilliant language on the trading but ultimately, it’s Kenny’s finest hour and a total ‘must have’ album.

Wes Montgomery – Full House (1962)

Sometimes the planets align to create the perfect gig. This album sees Miles Davis’ rhythm section with the greatest jazz guitarist on the planet. According to the sleeve notes the place ‘Tsubo’ in California was rammed to the rafters and they even had speakers pointing out of the windows for the crowds outside who hadn’t managed to get tickets. You can hear the excitement in the room and the crowd are almost as much a part of this album as the musicians!

Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb are cooking, and provide the perfect backdrop for the incendiary Johnny Griffin and the man himself.

Great arrangements, amazing playing.  Probably my favourite album of all time.

John McLaughlin – Live at the Festival Hall (1989)

This album was definitely part of my transition from rock, through fusion and into jazz.

John is playing a nylon classical guitar that’s hooked up (actually quite tastefully) though a ‘Photon guitar synthesizer’! He uses this to great effect with pads and the odd loop which is not as invasive as it potentially could have been.

Kai Eckhardt is on fretless electric bass, and very good he is too.

Some of the real head turning content is provided by Trilok Gurtu on percussion who is given all the space he needs to dazzle with a seemingly endless array of percussion (including a bowl of water!).

The level of expertise is so high that it’s hard to imagine anyone ever bettering it. Ok, jazz is not a sport, but if it were then these are the gold medalists!

I listened to this album over and over again for months. I then heard that they were returning to the Festival Hall the following year so I immediately booked tickets. It really was like a religious experience. They were every bit as good as the record.

Jim Hall – Live! (1975)

Jim went to Toronto in ‘75 and played several nights at Bourbon St.

Every night was recorded and this album is a selection from those tracks.

They are all available on the extended collection actually but I reckon whoever picked these made the right call.

Terry Clarke and Don Thompson were Ed Bickert’s rhythm section so they’re totally at home playing in this guitar trio format. I kind of get the feeling that Jim’s aware that he’s filling Ed’s shoes, and he sounds decidedly hungry!

Maybe I’m imagining that. I know what a nice guy Jim was…

Terry and Don are with him every step of the way. Don’s bass playing is the perfect foil and although his virtuosity is breathtaking, he never seems to let that get in the way of the music.  Jim is a true improviser, and these dense, complex improvisations are a lot to take in. It’s a three way conversation for sure, and a lesson in how to play trio, especially in the lower dynamic.

As I mentioned, die hards can seek out the full collection but this is as much as you need to get the message.

Jesse Van Ruller – Live at Murphy’s Law (2005)

Jesse plays with captivating urgency. Yeah, he’s got chops, but he’s got so much music in him too. He understands the value and the right balance of mixing dazzling technique with strong ideas and phrasing. This makes for a brilliant record.

You know just by his touch from the opening bars of ‘Isfahan’ that he’s World class, and even before he tears ‘The End of a Love Affair’ a new one, you’ve most likely acknowledged that Jesse is is the ‘super league’ of jazz guitarists.

The sound of the guitar has been captured so well. The whoops and cheers from the crowd tell you that it was clearly an electric night.

Peter Bernstein, Larry Golding, Bill Stewart – Earth Tones (1998)

Just when you think the organ trio format has been used up, here comes a group whose raison d’être is to lay off from pulling the trigger – something that many musicians find impossible to do when there’s a B3 in the room!

It’s such a great recipe, and leads to a simmering, undulating and compelling three way dialogue. Of course, this trio are quite simply three of the best musicians in the World, so they make it sound easy!

I could have picked one of many of their albums that span their long career. I guess I chose this one because it’s an early one, and perhaps the one that, in my eyes/ really set the blueprint for everything that came after it.

Cannonball Adderley and the Poll Winners (1961)

And the winners are? Cannonball, Wes, Louis Hayes, Victor Feldman and Ray Brown.

Sometimes these things look like they’re going to work on paper and the reality ends being disappointing. Not in this case! This is one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

The pairing of Cannonball and Wes was always going to happen, not only because it was Cannonball who ‘discovered’ Wes.

Every solo from every musician is totally killing. Wes slots right in there and I can’t help thinking it was a shame not to have made more recordings with this band.

Ed Bickert/Lorne Lofsky Quartet (1985)

Canadian jazz guitarists definitely have a different way about them!

Both of these players are masters of good taste. Bickert, the older seasoned pro and Lofsky the younger ‘apprentice’ climb up each other to create a set of chilled yet exciting guitar jazz, neatly propelled by Neil Swanson and Jerry Fuller.

A thumb-pick plus fingers help to create Lofsky’s truly unique lines. Ed is on top form too and the choice of material makes for a record that I am perfectly happy to listen to all over again the moment it’s finished!

Joe Pass – Virtuoso (1973)

In a way this is similar to the Bernstein/Goldings/Stewart situation above.

It’s kind of ‘after the fact’ and the seventies are perhaps seeing the popularity of jazz begin to wane, but Joe Pass is just so damn good that he’s impossible to ignore!

I have heard (and I hope it’s true) that this album was a kind of accident.

Apparently Joe thought there was an amp at the studio, and the studio thought Joe was bringing one. So there ended up being no amp!

Somehow, this led to the unrehearsed, unarranged set of standards sounding even more intimate. Joe was truly at the top of his game. The following year (‘74) was perhaps Joe’s most prolific year, in which he recorded 9 albums including the iconic ‘Take Love Easy’ and ‘The Giants’.

You can almost hear Joe thinking as he’s playing. There’s a real sense that he’s just winging the whole thing, but such is his level of virtuosity and speed of thought that he manages to genuinely create beauty in the spontaneity of the moment. It’s a real landmark in the history of jazz guitar recordings, and although he tried to recreate the same feeling a further three times in the ‘Virtuoso’ series, none of the subsequent albums really seemed to have the same ‘flying by the seat of the pants’ feeling.

If you’re a jazz guitar player, then you have to have this album. It’s as simple as that!