Barry Finnerty taps legends for jazz inspiration.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Guitarist Barry Finnerty has the kind of stories that go perfectly with a fifth of Old Crow, like the time he was shafted out of his payment for a gig with the late bass-phenom, Jaco Pastorious, who took everyone’s cut to help settle some of his drug debts.
But Finnerty’s guitar skills – The Jazz Times calls him a cross between Jeff Beck and George Benson – is far more engaging than his infectious yarns: His most recent release, The Manhattan Sessions, might be his best ever.
“For Miles,” written with the legendary trumpeter in mind, was inspired by his experience working with Davis in the early ’80s on The Man with the Horn. There’s also the innovative “Clarita” – written for Finnerty’s longtime love – an eight-minute synthesis of Weather Report-style fusion, sugary Latin jazz and Manhattan Transfer a capella; a fluttering of effects-laden vocals gives way intermittently to tightly wound, heavy jams fueled by crunchy guitar arpeggios in the spirit of Pat Metheny.
Blues for Trane, finished just before Sessions, pays homage to one of jazz’s most valued treasures: John Coltrane.
“I really tried to play the songs with the same feeling as [Coltrane],” Finnerty says. “It’s got that bluesy spiritual vibe.”
Finnerty is bringing his talents to the Hyatt on Saturday to help celebrate local saxophonist Gary Meek’s birthday. David Morwood – plastic surgeon by day, jazz percussionist by night – sits in on drums.
Meek and Finnerty go back about a decade but it’s been some time since the two played together – aside from a S.F. gig a couple weeks ago – so they will likely stick to standards and standouts from Finnerty’s early repertoire.
“We’re going to play whatever feels good,” he says. “It’s going to be a party.”
BARRY FINNERTY, GARY MEEK and DAVID MORWOOD play 7pm Saturday, March 19, at the Hyatt Monterey, 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey. Free. 372-1234.