Primary Instrument: Guitar
When you think of the Amish countryside, jazz guitar rarely comes to mind. Yet born in Northern Indiana, jazz guitarist Jeff Massanari's roots are firmly placed in the little town of Goshen. Jeff could have easily followed in the footsteps of his father and brothers with a career in academia, but an unexpected move to Washington DC at age 9 led Jeff down a very different path. Exposed to the music of a big city, Jeff sought out the guitar and began playing at age 13 first focusing on blues and rock. That was all to change when a friend brought over a recording of John McLaughlin's Inner Mounting Flame. From the first note Jeff was hooked on jazz. By the time he was 17 he was performing and teaching jazz and blues in the Washington DC area. Jeff's love of jazz took him from DC to Boston's Berklee School of Music. After studying performance and composition, Jeff moved to California and settled in West Oakland. Once there, he established himself in the Bay Area jazz world and quickly became one of the most in-demand guitarists.
Jeff has performed with the Bay Area’s premier talents including vocalists like Paula West, Brenda Boykin, Denise Perrier, Nicholas Beard, Kenny Washington and Pamela Rose, instrumentalists like Wally Schnalle, Jeff Pittson, Charles McNeil, Vince Lateano ,and Jeff Chambers. In addition to performing with his own groups, Jeff regularly plays with The Johnny Nocturne Band, The Murasaki Ensemble, Swing Fever and countless other musicians in the Jazz, Blues, and World music genres.
Jeff has played at Yoshi’s international Jazz house, Pearl’s, Davies Symphony Hall (part of the Chamber music series), local and national festivals ( such as the internationally known San Jose Jazz festival, the Fillmore and North Beach street fairs, The Saucilito Arts festival, hundreds of private and corporate events, and internationally in Japan, Sweden, Finland, Guam, and in Italy at the Umbria Jazz festival.
Massanri’s original compositions have been featured on network television with the Patagonia “Save the Oceans” campaign and on a “Key Bell” commercial playing on Lifetime and BET .
Jeff was also featured on an Apple video at a Macworld convention.
Jeff’s first four CD’s have earned him excellent reviews in Guitar Player Magazine , Cadence, and from such respected players as Mike Stern and Eric Johnson. He has just finished recording his fifth CD ” Groovework”, an all original Jazz- Funk project featuring Wally Schnalle on drums, Jeff Pittson on keys, and Brad Russell and Jason Muscat on bass. “Groovework” will be available by April 1st.
In addition to his busy performance schedule, Massanari remains a dedicated teacher and is committed to sharing his knowledge and love of music. Jeff has taught at U.C. Berkeley, The Jazz School, Jazz Camp West, Bruce Forman’s Jazzmaster series, and Blue Bear Music School.