Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sal Salvador

Sal Salvador (1925 - 1999) was a bebop jazz guitarist and a prominent music educator . I came across a few recordings of him on Youtube (some rare) that are worth checking out.

Sal, who was also an instructor and the author of many jazz instruction books, was born in Monson, Mass in 1927. During the ealy 1940s he was drawn to jazz through the recordings of Harry James. He first played in the style of Dick McDonough, Karl Kress and George van Eps. At the age of 18, he first heard recordings of Charlie Christian and he decided to change over to the electric guitar and he started taking lessons. In 1949, Mundell Lowe, a good friend of his, recommended him for the position of staff guitarist at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

In  1950 he became a staff musician at the Columbia label and two years later went to work with the Stan Kenton Big Band, which proved to be his breakthrough job. He left the band 18 months later but Kenton enabled Sal to make an LP for Capitol records under his own name. Here's one of the tracks of that album (Kenton presents Jazz: Sal Salvador):

A year earlier. Sal had already recdorded  a quintet album for Blue Note with Frank Socolow (tenor saxophone), Johnny Williams (piano), Kenny O'Brien (bass) and Jimmy Campbell (drums). here's a track from that album (a playlist of which can be found on Youtube):

In 1957 Sal recorded "A Tribute to the Greats" with pianist Eddie Costa a.o. (who played with Tal Farlow in his drummerless trio):

In 1960 Sal started his own big band, the Colors in Sound Orchestra, which toured and recorded for five years. Here's a fine clip from the album: "The Beat for this Generation":

From 1970 until his death Sal Salvador taught jazz at the University of Bridgeport and Western Connecticut State University. He also taught privately in New York City and recorded occasionally.

This clip is from a 1978 sextet album called "Starfingers":

He re-formed his big band in the '80s, and was named to his position as head of the guitar department at the University of Bridgeport. In the 1990's he began recording again with a small group and he performed in several recent JVC Jazz Festival concerts, usually in duets with Mundell Lowe.


  1. Here's a nice live clip of Sal with Sonny Stitt from "Jazz on a Summer's Day":

  2. I always enjoy these reviews Dick. I've never really paid any attention to Sal Salvador until now. Thanks for posting this.

  3. A few years ago, I found the The Jazz Player's Handbook by Sal Salvador in pdf. format, from Mel Bay. I still have it and treasure it, since I don't know if it's still available! Eight pages of key things to know!