Ron Escheté (pronounced ESH-tay)
is the consummate master of the seven-string guitar.
Whether he is playing bebop, ballads or blues he
is a musically sophisticated guitarist who plays
with grace and dignity. "Escheté is one of the
finest jazz guitarists in L.A. no small achievement
in a region dense with superb players," says
Jim Ferguson of JazzTimes. His deft and nimble
fingers paint a spectrum of sound so rich that his
voicings are often compared with those of a
pianist. 20th Century Guitar likens his sound to
that of the great Bill Evans.
Escheté is currently performing and recording
with the Ron Escheté Trio, featuring Todd
Johnson on six-string bass and Kendall Kay on
drums. While he has long been regarded as one
of the finest guitarists in mainstream jazz, now
Escheté ranks as an innovative leader for his work
with this ensemble. "The Escheté trio is as polished
as the classic Modern Jazz Quartet
This is a unit that speaks
with a single voice. It is a voice of brilliant musical reason."
Jim Merod, Jazz News. What is most unique about the
sound of this trio is the depth and texture created by the coupling
of Eschetéís seven strings with Johnsonís six strings. The outcome
"a rich tapestry of melody, harmony and teamwork," says
Hal Howland for Modern Drummer Magazine.
Escheté was born in 1948 in Houma, Louisiana, and not
surprisingly his early influences were jazz masters Jim Hall, Howard
Roberts and Wes Montgomery. After receiving his first guitar at the
age of 14, Escheté joined a quartet and was working clubs in
Louisiana before he had even graduated from high school. He attended
Loyola University where he majored in classical guitar and minored
in flute. While there he studied with classical guitarist Paul Guma.
Shortly after Escheté left Loyola he was tapped to tour with
Buddy Greco. While on tour with Greco, Escheté set his sites
on the Los Angeles music scene. In 1970 Escheté relocated to
California, working and recording with vibist Dave Pike. Then in 1975
he joined forces with pianist Gene Harris and quickly establish his
reputation as a premier accompanist. Over the decades Escheté
has worked with the greatest artists in jazz including: Ella
Fitzgerald; Sarah Vaughn; Diana Krall; Dizzy Gillespie; Milt Jackson;
Ray Brown and many more.
Escheté has appeared on the Tonight Show with Diana Krall, the
Merv Griffin Show with the Mort Lindsey Orchestra, the Mike Douglas
Show with Buddy Greco. He has played nearly every notable jazz venue
in the southern California including the Catalina Bar and Grill, The
Jazz Bakery, Steamers, DontÈ's, Carmeloís, The Parisian Room and The
Lighthouse to name only a few. He has toured extensively and has
played major venues from New York to San Francisco.
Escheté cites a 1988 gig in San Diego as a critical turning
point in his career. There he began to shed his reputation as the
quintessential sideman; he stepped to the center of the stage and he
began exploring original material. "Long considered to be one of the
finest guitarists in mainstream jazz by musicians and listeners alike,
he has now taken over the reins, and "innovative leader" might be a
better appellation," says preeminent jazz critic, Zan Stewart. In 1994
he released his first solo recording for Concord entitled, A Closer
Look (CCD-4607), showcasing his masterful fingerstyle sound and
his seven-string Benedetto arch-top. In addition to this solo
recording Escheté has recorded four CDs with his trio ("Softwinds," "Rain Or Shine," "Mo' Strings Attached" and "Live At Rocco"). "In The Middle," their fifth CD, was released in 2006 and is the first to feature the current line-up of Ron, Todd and Kendall.
While his career has been primarily focused on performance, this
master musician has dedicated nearly twenty five years to teaching
music at many colleges and univesities, including among oth-ers:
North Texas State University, Utah State University, Loyola University,
Louisiana State University at New Orleans, California State
Universities at Long Beach and Fullerton, and Musicianís Institute in
Hollywood. He has authored three books: Melodic Chord Phrases (R.E.H
Publications), The Jazz Guitar Soloist (Alfred Publications), and a
book of Howard Roberts solos entitled Super Solos (Payback
Ron Escheté has been described as a masterful musical
chameleon, switching melodic lines and ideas with cool efficiency and
beauty. He transforms from accompanist to soloist to band-leader; from
musical master to musical mentor.
Escheté is one of the best there is at playing the
"traditional" melodic jazz guitar style; a keeper of the flame.
Adrian Ingram, Just Jazz Guitar