Ron Escheté (pronounced ESH-tay),
the consummate master of the seven-string guitar, joins 6-string
bass pioneer Todd Johnson to lay the formidable
foundation of the Ron Escheté Trio. With the addition
of such fine drummers as Kendall Kay, Joe LaBarbera or Paul Humphrey, this trio renders mainstream jazz
with a refreshing new texture.
While Escheté has long been regarded as one of the
finest guitarists in mainstream jazz, he now ranks as an
innovative leader for his work with this ensemble. "The
Escheté trio is as polished as the classic Modern Jazz
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 is "a rich tapestry of melody, harmony
and teamwork," says Hal Howland for Modern
Band leader Ron Escheté was born in 1948 in Houma, Louisiana,
and not surprisingly his early influences were jazz masters Jim Hall,
Howard Roberts and Wes Montgomery. Escheté began playing guitar
at the age of 14, joined a quartet and was working clubs in Louisiana
before he had even graduated from high school. He attended Loyola
University and studied classical guitar with Paul Guma. Before he had
completed college Escheté was tapped to tour with Buddy Greco
and he quickly established 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 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 1990 Escheté teamed with a bright and daring young bass
player named Todd Johnson. Johnson is now recognized as a pioneer of
the six-string bass. With his custom Yamaha six-string bass, equipped
with a midi pick-up, Johnson uses an innovative technique where he
plays chord changes and bass lines simultaneously. Additionally, his
use of the midi interface, a technology which allow his instrument to
sound like many instruments at the same time, adds both harmonic color
and texture that further defines his unique sound. His instrument can,
quite literally, sound like an organ and a bass at the same time. As a
seasoned performing artist, Todd Johnson has developed a rich
philosophy encompassing his spiritual, educational and
achievement-oriented sides. Johnson sees his talent as a gift to
continually enhance and develop.
As an integral member of this critically acclaimed jazz trio, Johnson
excels as both a supporting musician and a seasoned soloist. He is
consistently cited for his contributions of skill, originality, and
versatility, as well as his ability to sound as if he is simultaneously
playing multiple instruments. Group leader Ron Escheté says
can sound like a second guitar player or even an organ or
electric piano." Zan Stewart of the Los Angeles Times writes
that Johnsonís six-string bass along with Eschetéís
seven-string guitar "give the musicians an amazing range of sounds and
approaches." 20th Century Guitar Magazineís Jim Fisch calls it
"a delight to witness the telepathic communication between Todd and
Ron seamlessly dovetailing their carefully crafted improvisation."
The group is repeatedly hailed as the trio that sounds like a quartet.
The Ron Escheté Trio has recorded 5 CDs: "Softwinds," "Rain Or Shine," "Mo' Strings Attached," "Live At Rocco" and "In The Middle," the latter featuring the current line-up of Ron Escheté, Todd Johnson and Kendall Kay. The group, which performs regularly in the Southern California area, has also toured extensively in the United States.
In addition to touring and recording, both Escheté and Johnson
teach music at colleges, major universities and special clinics
including: California Institute of the Arts; the California State
Universities at Fullerton and Long Beach; Loyola University; Golden
West College; Louisiana State University at New Orleans; Musicians'
Institute; North Texas State University; Spokane Falls Community
College; Utah State University; and more.
Jim Merod, Jazz News says that with this group "the dedicated
listener finds genuine jazz melodic beauty joined to harmonic