Garrison Fewell

Primary Instrument: Guitar

Born: October 14, 1953    

Garrison Fewell

”The guitarist formerly known as one of Boston's most eloquent inside players has become one of its leading experimenters,” writes Boston Phoenix's Jon Garelick, who included Fewell's ensemble, the Variable Density Sound Orchestra, on his best of 2009 list. Fewell, a professor at Berklee College since 1977, has toured the globe for more than 35 years as one of the jazz world's premier performer/educators. He has released 13 recordings for Soul Note, Koch, Splasc(H), Boxholder, Accurate, Nubop and CNM Records. For the past decade, he has collaborated with such renowned avant-garde musicians as John Tchicai, Steve Swell, Roy Campbell, Khan Jamal, Borah Bergman and Curtis Clark. The Variable Density Sound Orchestra, founded in 2008, released three recordings on Creative Nation Music, and balances both aspects of Fewell's musical personality by showcasing the melodic accessibility and sturdy framework of his compositions as well as the unbridled freedom of free improvisation....
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Best Jazz Recording 1993, Boston Music Awards (A Blue Deeper than the Blue w Cecil McBee, Fred Hersch, Matt Wilson)
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    Variable Density Sound Orchestra

    Creative Nation Music
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    Red Door Number 11

    Splasc(H) Records
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    City of Dreams

    Splasc(H) Records

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Featured recording “Tribal Ghost”

Latest Release

Tribal Ghost

NoBusiness Records (2013)

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Reviews of Garrison's recordings have been published in a variety of international jazz magazines:

”His beautiful tone and effortless, fluid lines draw the listener in as only a select few have done...a fine guitarist who appeals on the sublime, emotional level of a Bill Evans or a Jim Hall.” -James Rozzi, Wired

”His active imagination is restless; his musical intelligence is acute; his standards are high.”-Thomas Conrad, DownBeat

”Continually surprising change-ups in phrasing, technique and timing, along with a perceptive balance between forward linear motion and shifting horizontal timbres are the hallmarks of Fewell's style.”-Milo Fine, Cadence

”With phrasing that is simply flawless he digs into harmonies with a clear and unique style, free of clich.”-M. Ariodante, Axe (Italy)

”Guitarist Garrison Fewell is a find one of the music's best kept secrets. A fine composer and a sure stylist with a hearty mahogany tone”-Bob Young, Jazziz

”Garrison Fewell performs flawlessly on guitar, gliding over the chords effortlessly.”-Steven Loewy, All Music Guide

”Guitarist Garrison Fewell has the maturity to appreciate the importance of connecting the dots: fitting ideas together and making them work.”-Nils Jacobson, All About Jazz

”The very title of Fewell's first Accurate CD - A Blue Deeper Than the Blue - suggests the layered indigo shades and poetic echoes heard from his guitar. Each note has shape and substance, each solo definition and flexibility... legato phraseology, ripe emotions, pristine beauties of sound.” - Jazz Times

More Recording Reviews:

A Blue Deeper Than Blue (1993, Accurate Records): Awarded Best Jazz Recording 1993, by the Boston Music Awards, Top Ten by Coda Magazine, UPI, and Guitar Player.

”...a subtle jewel of a debut album, one that instantly places him in the top rank of jazz guitarists anywhere.”-Boston Herald

Reflection of a Clear Moon (1995, Accurate Records): Awarded Top Ten Best Jazz of 1995 by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Birdland Sessions (2000, Koch Jazz): ”Birdland Sessions is probably most significant for his catchy originals. several deserve to be interpreted by other players and have the potential to become future standards.”- All Music Guide

Red Door Number 11 (2003, Splasc(H) Records): ”Red Door is a lot like the timeless '60s duet recordings Bill Evans made with Jim Hall in more than a few ways. In the best ways, really. Provided you have the maturity to appreciate understatement, Red Door Number 11 is an unqualified success.”- All About Jazz

”When it comes to playing traditional jazz guitar - nimble, swinging, bop- inflected lines on a honey- toned archtop - few contemporary pickers can match Garrison Fewell.” - Andy Ellis, Guitar Player magazine. May '04

Good Night Songs (2006, Boxholder): Voted Best Jazz Recording of 2006 by the Boston Phoenix

”Tchicai posses an unfailing melodic instinct that turns his every improvisation into a miniature act of spontaneous composition. Guitarist Garrison Fewell whose ethereal playing brings out a more lyrical side in Tchicai, seems to drift along beneath his collaborators, providing a fluid bed over which they can serenely flow.” - Shaun Brady, Philadelphia Citypaper

Big Chief Dreaming (2005, Soul Note): Voted Best of 2005 by Jazz Review (UK), and the Montreal Gazzette

”Like no other album to come across my desk this year, this one demands to be heard again and again. It unfolds over time and reveals no small charms. Tchicai and company make an evocative team. They also bring the scorched earth of free jazz back to life with a flower or two.” - Dan Rose, One Final Note

“Garrison Fewell's writing often bears similarities to Sun Ra and Don Cherry with its open forms. Case in point is the album's centerpiece: 'The Queen of Ra.'” - Troy Collins, AAJ

Primary Instrument: Guitar

Location: Somerville, MA

Willing to teach: Intermediate to advanced students


An internationally respected jazz educator, Garrison has been a Professor of Guitar and Ear Training at Boston's Berklee College of Music since 1977 and has given clinics at more than 40 prestigious conservatories in Europe alone. He is the author of three textbooks, most recently "Jazz Improvisation for Guitar - A Melodic Approach" is a best-seller for Berklee Press/Hal Leonard, and "L'Arte dell'Armonia e dell'Improvvisazione" is on Carish Jazz Lab, newly translated in Italian. Garrison served as a lesson contributor to Guitar Player, Guitar Club, Chitarre, and Axe magazines, and is the recipient major music grants such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts International, Artslink, Pew Caritable Trust, and ACULSPEC from the U.S. Information Agency.

Information on correspondence lessons is available at:

Clinic/Workshop Information:

Improvisation - A Melodic Approach: Using my textbook on Berklee Press, demonstration of triads and non-scaleular concepts for improvising over chord changes, including intervallic and motivic development. Melodic Approach to Harmonic Substitution: The principle elements of playing substitute changes to create more harmonic interest in a solo. Melodic Counterpoint - The Music of J.S. Bach and Charlie Parker:Demonstration of counterpoint in single line improvisation using examples form Bach and other jazz musicians, notably C. Parker. The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra: A presentation of the myths and realities of legendary pianist, composer, band leader and poet, Su Ra and his Afro-Centric aspproach to improvised and composed music. Modal harmony: The music of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner and others. The 60's influence of modal style on the development of jazz. Ear Training: Learning to hear and feel music through listening and singing. Relating melody to harmony. Singing solos by Miles Davis. Contemporary Use of Hybrids and Polychords Tonic systems - 2, 3, & 4 Application of Diminished concepts to improvising. Subdominant Minor and Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale: Einstein’s theory of harmonic relativity. Eb = Mc2.
Guitars: 1947 Gibson L5 w/ one pickup, Campellone Deluxe w/ single pickup. Fender amps: 1968 Pro Reverb w/ 1 15" JBL, 1968 Deluxe Reverb, 1970 Princeton.
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