Dave Navarro's stints in Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers established him as one of the most innovative guitarists of his generation. And now, thanks to an MTV reality series based on his marriage to actress Carmen Electra and regular appearances on Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown, he's probably the most visible guitarist as well.
Singer/songwriter Marc Cohn has some of the music world's most devoted and patient fans. Since his 1991 debut, which included the adult contemporary hit "Walking in Memphis" and won him a Best New Artist GRAMMY Award, he has only released two additional records: 1993's The Rainy Season, and 1998's Burning the Daze.
Over the course of four hit albums, the Deftones have honed one of the most dramatic and distinctive sounds in heavy rock. Their songs pulsate with startling dynamic shifts: vocals veer from whispers to screams. Bone-crunching riffs alternate with delicate, ethereal passages.
"Musical genre has never been important to me," says singer/songwriter A.J. Croce. "What matters is the songwriting and the quality of the music."
Croce's five albums back up his words by defying easy categorization. Sure, you can pinpoint some of the jazz, blues, and R&B influences of his early disc, or the British-pop jumping-off points of his more recent recordings. But the true unifying features are A.J.'s skilled songcraft, soulful vocals, and deft piano work.
As drummer with the hard rock band Trapt, Aaron Montgomery has been on the road almost nonstop for two years, playing close to 400 shows. All that road conditioning is about to pay off: the band is returning to the studio to cut the follow-up to their self-titled Warner Bros. debut, a platinum-selling smash.
Since his breakthrough gig with Ray Charles in 1972, Turre has worked with an astonishing array of jazz giants: Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Woody Shaw, Pharoah Sanders, Horace Silver, Max Roach, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk-the man Turre refers to as "my teacher."
Had fate dealt a slightly different hand, the world would have one more dedicated doctor--and a lot fewer country hits.
More than a decade ago, Brett James left medical school to pursue his dream of becoming a Nashville singer/songwriter. He had more success than most: his Arista Records debut album, Brett James, won praise for its hard-hitting, honky-tonk tunes. But several attempted follow-ups fizzled. In 1999 James, seeking financial security for his growing family, returned to his native Oklahoma and re-enrolled in med school.
Despite his last name, most of Joe Solo's career is based on collaboration.
"I get off on the synergy of working with other people more than working by myself," says the Los Angeles-based songwriter, producer, film composer and multi-instrumentalist. "So almost everything I do is a collaborative effort."
Some musicians would derive great satisfaction from doing one thing extremely well, but not keyboardist, producer, and arranger Herman Jackson. "I never wanted to be a specialist," he says. "I want to be an everyday player. I want to be able to do everything."
Most drummers can talk at length about the art of working within a rhythm section. But few do so as authoritatively as Charley Drayton, who boasts extensive credits as both a drummer and a bassist.
"Some artists just want their music to sound good, but they're not all that interested in the particulars," notes Onree Gill, Alicia Keys' musical director. "They might not really care how you get from one song to the next or about the details of the arrangements. They don't have a clue about music theory or music history."
Nashville-based drummer Eddie Bayers is at the top of his profession, winning dozens of industry awards and playing with such greats as Vince Gill, George Strait, Steve Winwood, Peter Frampton, Bob Seger, Trisha Yearwood, and Garth Brooks. But he didn't always sit behind the skins; in fact, he began his musical career as a professional pianist with a classical and rock background.
Some highly schooled jazz players turn up their noses when asked to play pop, but not Dino Meneghin. "A lot of times, that attitude comes out of ignorance," says the young LA-based guitarist. "R&B, blues, rock and roll, jazz - they all come from the same African-American tradition of music. They all come from the same source. And once I started playing R&B and pop, I fell in love with the idea of playing those styles. Now it feels more like home to me than jazz."
Keyboardist and musical director Kenneth Crouch has worked with such artists as Lenny Kravitz, Eric Clapton, Destiny's Child, Lauryn Hill, Brandy, and Marc Anthony. Blessed with talent and born into a musical family (his uncle is gospel legend Andrae Crouch), it seems Crouch was destined for a career in music.
Chart-busting rap-rock group Linkin Park is practically a genre unto itself. In the past five years, they've released two mega-platinum albums on Warner Bros., 2000's Hybrid Theory and 2003's Meteora, plus a full-length disc of remixes from the first album and a joint release with rap giant Jay-Z.
Jim Walker is one of the world's most respected flutists. Besides boasting gorgeous tone and impeccable technique, Walker has managed to excel in both the classical and jazz fields.
The classical side: Walker has held the principal flute chair in major orchestras, worked with such great conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, and Carlo Maria Giulini, and been hailed for his exquisite chamber music performances.
When Michael Herring was five years old, his violinist grandfather paid him a dollar a week to take guitar lessons.
It was a shrewd investment. Today Herring commands a substantially higher weekly wage when he tours with the likes of Christina Aguilera, Anastacia, and Prince or adds guitar tracks to discs by NAS, Dru Hill, Mariah Carey and others.