A ‘360 guitar player’, Tony Rémy is one of the UK’s shining stars of jazz, blues, fusion and funk guitar, says John Wheatcroft.
If you can list artists as impressive and diverse as Annie Lennox, Incognito, Herbie Hancock, Jack Bruce, Pee Wee Ellis, The Crusaders, Craig David and a whole load more on your musical resume, then it’s likely that you area highlyaccomplished player and doing something that aspiring musicians should pay attention to. Such is the case with this month’s chosen artist, the London-based guitarist Tony Rémy, who for over 30 years has maintained a remarkable career as a session guitarist and touring band member ,with a bursting portfolio of recorded work, including a half dozen critically-acclaimed solo releases.
Rémy has achieved his goal of becoming a ‘360 guitar player’. His playing expertly blends bebop vocabulary with funky rhythm chops and expressive blues. Expect to hear aggressive rock whammy abuse and pinched harmonics one moment and delicate, sensitive acoustic fingerpicking the next, all executed with taste and authenticity. It’s easy to see why he’s held in such high regard - and in such demand. His influences are diverse and broad: George Benson and Wes, with some slippery, dissonant phrasing not dissimilar to that of Scofield or Mike Stern; his whammy bar antics tip the hat a little in the direction of Jeff Beck – not forgetting his assimilation of all the great players. Rémy skilfully blends these influences, adding his own ideas and creativity to forge a sound that’s both stylistically rooted and achieves a unique musical personality. There is a new album in the pipeline, In The Middle Of Before And After, and I, for one, await it with great anticipation.
There are eight short examples this month, each a snapshot of the style that you might hear Tony play in a spontaneous and improvised setting. I’d urge you to get out and see world-class players, such as Rémy, perform in the flesh. This way you will develop a sense for the depth of vocabulary and the speed of reaction present within all the great players. The interplay between musicians ‘in the moment’ and the concept of each performance being completely unique is something that can only be fully appreciated when you are present to witness and enjoy it. Much as we all love YouTube, you really can’t beat being in the room with a band full of cooking musicians! Hopefully, you’ll feel inspired to attempt to incorporate a little (or a lot) of this invigorating spontaneity into your own musical endeavours; if so your playing, along with the music you create, will be all the better for it. As always, enjoy.
Practise every single day, even if you have to Sleep for one hour, Practise every day Tony Rémy
Tony Rémy with his ’90s Patrick Eggle guitar