Join Pete Callard as he uncovers some of the greatest licks from the giants of jazz guitar. This month, Stan Kenton stalwart, Sal Salvador.
This month we’re going to be exploring the soloing style of Sal Salvador. Born Silvio Smiraglia on November 21st, 1925 in Monson, Massachusetts, Salvador grew up in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Starting out on his father’s acoustic guitar, it was hearing recordings of Charlie Christian with Benny Goodman that turned him on to jazz and the electric guitar. He studied via correspondence with Nat King Cole guitarist Oscar Moore, and began playing professionally in the mid 40s in Michigan, alongside future greats, saxophonist Phil Woods and drummer Joe Morello.
Moving to New York, Salvador joined many of his contemporaries in the studio world, and was recommended by his friend Mundell Lowe (GT224), with whom he was to collaborate with many times during his career, for a job in the house band at Radio City Music Hall alongside Johnny Smith (GT209). He also worked for a time on staff at Columbia Records, leading to recordings with Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney and Marlene Dietrich. In 1952 Salvador joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra, and was featured on the recording New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm. The association with Kenton proved fruitful, raising Salvador’s profile and securing him a contract with Capitol for a follow-up to his debut release as leader -1954’s Sal Salvador Quintet - leading to the album Kenton Presents Sal Salvador. Alongside his own recordings, Salvador formed a quartet with pianist Eddie Costa, and started his own big band in 1958, releasing the album Colours In Sound. That year he also appeared with saxophonist Sonny Stitt in Jazz On A Summer’s Day, a film of the Newport Jazz Festival. The period from 1963 to 1978 saw a hiatus in Salvador’s recording career as a leader, as he changed his focus to teaching and live playing, but his eventual return to the studio proved prolific, with three albums in 1978 alone. He continued to release albums under his own name and in various collaborations over the next two decades. Salvador reformed his big band in the 80s, and joined with guitarist Mike Giordano to form the Crystal Image Quartet. A keen educator, Salvador was appointed head of the guitar department at the University of Bridgeport and Western Connecticut State University, and in the 90s released a a series of tuitional books and videos, taught privately and contributed lessons to Just Jazz Guitar magazine. Sal Salvador died of cancer at the age of 73 on September 22, 1999.
For this month’s nine playing examples we’re going to be examining various elements of Salvador’s soloing approach. This will include lines on short and long II-V-Is, II-VI-II-V-Is, turnarounds and rhythm changes ideas at tempos ranging from medium to seriously quick. We’ll also be covering, among other things, his use of chromaticism, motifs, phrasing, syncopation, slurring across the beat and bar line, plus variations on similar ideas, encirclement, pentatonics and melody quotes.
Sal Salvador’s life has no meaning without jazz; he is completely dedicated to his guitar.
Sal Salvador was a busy player and dedicated teacher