Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Frank Gambale

Frank began playing guitar at age 7 in Canberra, Australia where he was born and raised. He was influenced by the blues playing of the late 60s. In his mid-teens he discovered Steely Dan, The Brecker Brothers and Chick Corea, which pointed him in a jazzy direction. When he was 15 years old in 1974, influenced and inspired by the improvisations of Chick Corea and Michael Brecker, began developing his legendarySweep Picking Technique which today is considered a standard technique which didn't exist, or was thought to be an impossible pursuit before Gambale proved otherwise. The Sweep Picking Technique is a landmark in the history of guitar and Frank Gambale is the undisputed Master of Sweep Picking. Although Gambale has incredible facility because of the technique he pioneered he never puts the cart before the horse. His sense of melody and rhythm and ability to play melodically through changes always comes first.

In 1982 at 23 hemoved to Hollywood USA and quickly began making a name for himself. His playing was like no other and when you consider how many guitar players there are, that alone is an amazing feat.He published his "Speed Picking" ( Hal Leonard Publ. ) while still a student.. Gambale wanted to call the book "Sweep Picking" but the publisher didn't know what it meant since there was no precedent, and they believed the guitar public wouldn't know what the book was about either. Everyone now knows what Sweep Picking is thanks to Gambale and his pioneering achievement.

In 1986 he signed his first recording contract with a small label called Legato and began his recording career. The same year he was recruited by Jean-luc Ponty to tour in the summer. Shortly after that tour, he auditioned for Chick Corea and began a 6 year stint which culminated in 5 albums, a Grammy award and two Grammy Nominations. Meanwhile Frank was making landmark guitar albums like Thunder From Down Under, Noteworker and The Great Explorers, Passages and Thinking Out Loud and making instructional books and videos that are used in universities and colleges in all corners of the globe.
 Frank has helped design some beautiful instruments since the 80s. Four remarkable signature models for Ibanez, one for Yamaha and the latest is for Carvin Corp. called the FG1 to be released at NAMM 2011. Also to be released at NAMM 2011 is a signature series of amplifiers he co-designed with DV Mark. These will be available in 60 countries.They will produce a 1x12 and 2x12 combos, an amp head and a verticle 2x12 slant front speaker box all with his signature.

    In the late 90's Frank started his own record label called Wombat Records.He re-released his early Legato catalog along with other releases including a double live CD called Resident Alien - Live Bootlegsand Live in Poland among others.

   In 2005 Gambale released a landmark album called Raison D'Etre. This marked another groundbreaking invention on the guitar, his "Gambale Tuning".This tuning, really a re-stringing of the guitar enabled close-voicing chords previously only the domain of piano players. Sweep Picking and the Gambale Tuning method will go down as two major contributions in guitar history books.
   In 2000 Gambale recorded a wonderful guitar album called Coming To Your Senses, the first release on the new Steve Vai owned label, Favored Nations.

In 2007 Gambale released Natural High on Wombat Records, an all acoustic album featuring reworkings of jazz standards with his own melodies. In the same year he release three compilations of his music spanning his entire recording history, Best Of Jazz and Rock Fusion, Best Of The Smoothe Side, and Best Of The Acoustic Side.
Frank has also played and contributed songs to seven Vital Information albums and three trio recordings on Mike Varney's Tone Center records. The first released in 1999 called Show Me What You Can Do was well received, and the second called The Light Beyond came out in July 2000 and the third one is simply called GHS 3.

Late in 2002 the celebration of Chick Corea's 60th birthday reunited the Elektric Band after a 10 year hiatus with a sold-out performance to 18,000 at the Hollywood Bowl Aug 28th. The band received a GRAMMY Award and two NOMINATIONS in the late 80's and early 90s. The show kicked off a wave of reunion tours. The group recorded an album the same year called To The Stars and a live DVD at the famous Montreux Jazz Festival. The Elektric band story continues and will perform for the Chick Corea 70th Birthday celebration November 2011 at the Blue Note in New York City.

Updated November 2010.

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