Guitar Clinic: Alex de Grassi
Fingerstyle steel-string guitarist and Grammy nominee Alex de Grassi brings a unique voice to solo acoustic guitar with his evocative compositions and arrangements. His highly orchestrated playing weaves together melody, counter-melody, bass, harmony, rhythm, and cross-rhythms.
Alex’s first recording was Turning: Turning Back in 1978 on Windham Hill Records. Since then he has released an additional fifteen recordings, most recently Demania in 2006. Alex has toured extensively on the concert circuit, performing in Europe, Japan, and throughout North America at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Interlochen Fesitval, the Montreux Jazz Festival, and the Belfast International Festival. He has also traveled to Bolivia studying and gathering Andean music, and helped bring about the Arawi recording of the Contemporary Orchestra of Native Instruments.
Born in Yokosuka, Japan, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Alex was exposed from his earliest years to a variety of musical influences. His grandfather was a violinist with the San Francisco Symphony. His father was trained in classical piano while his mother was a jazz fan -- thus exposing Alex to both Mozart and Louis Armstrong. His first instrument was the trumpet, but at age 13 de Grassi switched to guitar, playing folk, blues, and popular music. Early guitar influences include British fingerstyle acoustic guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn; American innovators Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Ralph Towner; and much of the rock, pop, and jazz of the Sixties.
Largely self-taught, de Grassi briefly studied jazz guitar with noted teacher Bill Thrasher while attending the University of California at Santa Barbara, and studied music while pursuing a degree in Economic Geography at the University of California at Berkeley. Since embarking on a recording and concert career, Alex has continued to study classical and jazz guitar. He has also studied jazz piano with Bay Area great Mark Levine as well as composition with renowned teacher and author William A. Mathieu.