Jazz, Guitar, Eric DiVito
In the midst of a busy career as working musician and educator, New York guitarist/composer Eric DiVito has finally carved out the time to make his recording debut as a leader. "Breaking the Ice," a quartet date co-produced by DiVito with Portland pianist/arranger Ezra Weiss and veteran jazz producer/promoter Todd Barkan, will be released on the Canadian Pioneer Jazz Collective (PJC) label on October 2.
“One of the most totally unexpected and pleasant surprises of my last 30 years of jazz production has been the constant smile to be regularly experienced in Eric’s consistently uplifting compositions, arranging, and guitar playing,” says Barkan.
The 31-year-old Long Island native chose to feature his original compositions with trio or quartet comprised of tenor and soprano saxophonist Jake Saslow, a friend and colleague since high school days; acoustic bassist Corcoran Holt alternating with Motohito Fukushima on electric; and Israeli-born drummer Nadav Snir-Zelniker. DiVito’s solo performance of “Time Remembered,” the Bill Evans classic and the album’s only nonoriginal, is played classical-style on a nylon-string guitar.
Throughout, DiVito draws on his command of both jazz and classical guitar styles, as well as on his interests in jazz and pop composition, to create a wonderfully varied program—from the “dizzy, hectic feel” of the opener “Like Minded,” to the ballads “For Maria” (written for his wife of five years) and “Her and Hymn” (partially inspired by Joni Mitchell), to the gently swinging “Pass’ Time” (for Joe Pass, one of his heroes) and high-energy “Shoot the Messenger” (for Art Blakey).
The mysterious “Tango” is a quartet number, with Saslow on tenor. “Being a classical guitarist,” DiVito says, “there’s a lot of tangos and Latin music in my repertoire. I thought it would be a nice contrast to some of the more straight-ahead or pop kinda tunes.”
Growing up in Northport, NY, Eric DiVito played percussion instruments in his elementary school orchestra and concert band and “learned to read music first as a percussionist,” he recalls. He took up guitar in middle school. Although he had an early interest in Jimi Hendrix and Guns N’ Roses, jazz guitarists were his primary inspiration, particularly Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, and Joe Pass. He also cites Jack WIlkins and Paul Bollenback, both of whom he studied with, as later influences, and he counts Julian Bream among his classical guitar favorites.