Stan Lassiter Spotlight

"Lassiter's Gig" from his CD Russian Dragon
TGS Spotlight Player from January 30, 2015

RECOMMENDED BY: Andy Ellis, Host & Sr. Editor, Premier Guitar Magazine - 'In the world of contemporary guitar, there's a small group of players whose extraordinary technique and musical vision make them hard to categorize and certainly impossible to imitate. Shawn Lane, Allan Holdsworth, Charlie Hunter, David Fiuczynski, and Philip deGruy come to mind—guitarists who've had to invent a unique sonic language to express themselves.

Stan Lassiter is one of these rare guitarists. I've known Stan since the early '80s, and over the years I've watched him continue to discover new ways to navigate the fretboard and create amazing music. Who else can weave knuckle slide, Indian tabla rhythms, and warp-speed bebop lines into a solo guitar piece?

Whether coaxing delicate harp harmonics from a nylon-string or raging on electric, shredding with a flatpick or blending fingerstyle jazz with flamenco, Stan plays with a beautiful blend of passion and virtuosity. Totally original and captivating.'

To truly begin to understand the music of STAN LASSITER, you first must become acquainted with Stan — both his history and his philosophy of music. At age 13, Stan taught himself how to play the guitar, and played constantly throughout his high school years. The Spiders Combo was his first band at the age of 13. He played sock hops and earned his first three dollars with this band. At the age of 15, Stan played with the Electric Army Band later known as The Whole Damn Family. The Whole Damn Family was one of Nashville’s most popular bands. When Stan was 17, he jammed with the Allman Brothers at George Jones’ Possum Holler Club. This was the first time the Allman Brothers came to Nashville. Stan was backstage looking for his friend Doug Teasley when he met the Allman Brothers. They all went to jam after the show at Possum Holler except for Duane and Butch Trucks. Doug asked if Stan could sit in and Greg asked if Stan could play the blues. Stan joined Kosie Gardner’s Jazz Trio at 19. Kosie is a Master Hammond B3 player in the tradition of Jimmy Smith. They played with Sonny Stitt in Memphis in 1977. Stan also worked two country shows and the Showboat from 1973 to 1980 at Opryland USA. Stan was the orchestra leader of two of the country shows. In 1976, Stan won the Best Instrumentalist Award at Opryland USA. In 1978, Stan traveled with the Opryland cast to Amsterdam as Goodwill ambassadors. In 1977, Stan earned a Master’s Degree in the Science of Pedagogy and Classical Guitar from the George Peabody College for teachers at Vanderbilt University. He played in the Peabody Jazz Ensemble during this time. This is when Stan and Joe Rea Phillips met. Joe Rea Phillips is the Senior Artist Teacher of Guitar and Assistant to the Dean at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. Stan and Joe Rea have been guitar partners since that time. They continue to collaborate on guitar techniques and compositions to this day. In fact they just completed a new CD. Stan taught guitar at Belmont University and Cumberland University from 1976 through 1979. In 1977, Costo Davis and Stan experimented in fusion in a popular Nashville band which included Costo on the keyboard, Mark Tallent on the bass, and Randy Bowles on the drums. This was the first incarnation of the Stan Lassiter Group. Stan later teamed up with Roy Vogt (bass) and Dale Armstrong (drums) to play Stan’s fusion music in the second version of the Stan Lassiter Group. They recorded Pink, Blue, and Red which is currently released on Roy, Dale, and Stan also recorded Psychic Sweat from Castle Productions in Franklin, Tennessee. In 1993, Stan recorded The Rose and the Nightingale at the Castle. This is a solo guitar work. Stan started his Little Zenphony Project in 1999. It explores the orchestration of guitars with Stan’s music. Stan has come full circle and is always expanding. Stan currently holds an adjunct facility position at Fisk and Belmont Universities. Private lessons and seminars are also available.

“My philosophy is to pick up every system — chimes, taps, pentatonic, and everything else and just revamp them. Put the mathematical permutations back in so I can have all ways of playing them that doesn’t sound like the same patterns people get tired of — they really don’t get tired of the language. I think freedom is revamping what we already have, re-using our resources again.” “You really have to break down the system and say, “I’m not going to play blues, country, rock, metal, jazz, or classical,” and at that point, what exists? Well, its movement. If you move this point and you do it with flow, its change. That change is the key. At that point, you take responsibility for it, if its good or bad. I think that the great artists of the past – Mozart, Beethoven, Bach — all the greats like John Coltrane and Miles Davis. They’re all connected to that, and that’s what I listen to. That’s the players I get my inspiration from because they’re there. You don’t have to copy their language you just feel their energy. Artist reflect the times they live in.” “Improvisation is what you are seeking when go out to explore something new. You take the melody and you go for it , and that’s the only thing that exists. The only thing at that moment. You break through the garbage. Like a stream, there’s always soot on top of the stream, and that’s basically our life duties. So you have to screen through that and clear that away to get down the deep waters of yourself. Its like constantly getting that marsh away — bills, troubles, emotions, people saying this … people saying that.” ”So you just get that stuff out of the way and you dig down and really the only power you have is observation. It’s awareness going toward that observation that’s the important part.” “Practice it. You do it enough and you can recall it, because you experience something mystical and the experience lasts. Then you can recall the experience.” “We feel the land, we feel the people and we’ve come from hard sufferings or hard places trying to find who we are and what we want to do. That’s a common bond between us, because I am still searching for the ultimate note … that one note that will align your soul up with matter that gives you enlightenment.”

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