An impressive young guitarist, Jeff Barone has developed a strong reputation with his recordings (Crazy Talk and Open Up), live performances, and record producing. His playing invigorates the modern mainstream of jazz, swinging hard while looking forward.
He was born in Syracuse, New York and remembers, “Early on I heard a Joe Pass recording, Virtuoso. I had a cousin who owned a music store and, when I was eight, my parents gave me a guitar for Christmas. That is how it all started.” Exposed to jazz by an uncle who was a bassist and a cousin who played jazz piano, he developed quickly. At 16, Jeff was working in local jazz clubs and being hired to play with touring shows that visited Syracuse. He also performed with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and worked with singer Al Martino under the direction of Tony Riposo. “By the time I was in high school, my life revolved around guitar and music, so it was a natural transition for me to become a professional musician.”
At Ithaca College where he earned a Bachelors in Music Education, Jeff studied classical guitar although his main instrument was classical percussion. He focused on the guitar at the Manhattan School Of Music where he received a Masters degree in Jazz Performance. During that period he also worked in small clubs in the Village including with singer Evelyn Blakey (Art Blakey’s daughter), Hershel Dwellingham’s group (Weather Report) and trumpeter Charles McGee (who had played with Archie Shepp and Rahsaan Roland Kirk). As his school days ended, he became part of the Harlem organ scene. Jeff worked with Jimmy “Preacher” Robins, Mel Davis, and for five years with Reuben Wilson. “It was a great experience playing with Reuben Wilson because he covered the full range of jazz. In Harlem clubs, we played straightahead jazz and standards. When we were outside of Harlem, we played more funk and acid jazz which was what he was known for. The guitar and the organ were made for each other. When the organist plays a left- handed bass, it leaves room for the guitar as opposed to the guitar and the piano where both instruments have to work hard not to step on each other’s toes.”