George Turner’s jazz guitar playing offers up mellifluous round tones, influenced by the masters of the archtop jazz guitar such as Wes Montgomery, George Benson, and Grant Green. In Turner’s hands, these influences, as well as his own deep musical sensibilities, are woven together to produce a rich personal sound.
Turner honed his skills as a jazz guitarist while he was a student at Virginia Tech, as a member of the Virginia Tech Jazz Orchestra under the direction of legendary jazz violinist Joe Kennedy. In the late 80’s Turner studied with nationally known jazz guitar master Paul Bollenback, who was teaching and performing in the Washington D.C. area at that time.
Turner then joined the University of Virginia Jazz Ensemble under the direction of trumpeter John D’earth and had the opportunity to play with legendary jazz drummer Bob Moses. These early experience gave Turner a strong foundation in jazz performance and helped develop his compositional style. In the mid 90’s Turner gigged, composed, and taught the guitar in the Washington D.C area. During those years, Turner played with many well known Washington D.C. jazz musicians including pianist and organist Greg Lamont, and pianist Lawrence Wheatley.
In 1995, Turner formed The George Turner Trio consisting of drums, bass and Turner’s own inventive jazz guitar. Often, Turner invites a funky organist or a sophisticated jazz pianist into the mix of The George Turner Trio, producing intriguing variety and intensity in the performances. Turner has been an active member of the area jazz scene, and the trio has played extensively throughout the mid-Atlantic region for clubs, restaurants, festivals and private functions.
The George Turner Trio is a versatile ensemble, drawing material from a variety of styles, ranging from traditional to modern jazz, as well as Latin, soul, funk, and rhythm and blues influences. The trio plays refreshing, intriguing interpretations of a wide range of jazz standards as well as Turner’s original compositions and arrangements, featured on his CD, “Slip, Don’t Fall”, released in the spring of 2000.
Individually, Turner has played with many top regionally and nationally known jazz musicians including trumpeter John D’earth, Chip McNeill, arranger and saxophonist for Latin artist Arturo Sandoval, drummer Robert Jospé of Inner Rhythm, and jazz guitar veteran Royce Campbell, formerly of Henry Mancini’s big band. See also this post about John Coltrane.
In 2002, George recorded with the electrifying saxophonist/vocalist Hope Clayburn on her newest CD as a leader and contributed two originals to the project. Hope is best known for her work with the world beat group Baaba Seth and the jazz/funk group Deep Banana Blackout. In 2003, The George Turner Trio recorded with the sultry, soulful jazz vocalist Lori Derr releasing the CD “The Way You Look Tonight”, which features jazz standards and bossa novas as well as an original composition co-written by Derr and Turner.
Recently, Turner and Derr have been performing material from the new CD extensively for clubs, restaurants, and private functions throughout the mid-Atlantic region. George has also been performing and recording with Hammond organist Greg Nossaman and drummer Phil Riddle, in a new incarnation of the trio featuring soul jazz classics and exciting new original compositions, and he plans to release a new CD with this group later this year.
The George Turner Trio has had numerous opportunities to perform in high profile situations. In October of 1999, The George Turner Trio opened for jazz guitarist Bill Frisell at Old Cabell Hall for the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music concert series. In January and June of 2001, and January 2003, The George Turner Trio, performed to a capacity crowd at Charlottesville’s newest music venue, Starr Hill Music Hall. In February of 2001, the trio opened for the nationally known Zydeco artist C.J. Chenier.
In October of 2002, The George Turner Trio headlined at Bohemian Caverns, one of Washington D.C.’s première jazz clubs. In October of 2003, the trio played in a large outdoor festival setting for the Chateau Morrisette “Black Dog Jazz” concert series. Recently, the trio has performed regularly at Twins Jazz, another top Washington D.C. jazz venue. See also this post: The Life of B.B. King.
For more intimate performances, Turner also offers the lush sounds of unaccompanied solo jazz guitar. His soulful solo performances explore unique interpretations of jazz standards, as well as frame his original compositions within the context of his complex musical sensibilities, in a way comparable to Australia’s Melbourne Jazz Cooperative.