The contact between Sonntag Guitars and Bruce Forman developed at Wrexham Summer School 2004 in Wales. Bruce was booked as a lecturer. During the evenly sessions at the hotel bar he was struck by the Sonntag J16H Ballade. He detected that this guitar had exactly the sound which he needs for his BeBop and Western Swing projects. He ordered it in wine red and baptized her on the name »Ruby«.
Bop to Swing
Bruce Forman's guitar style has been an important part of the international Jazz scene for more than two decades. He has been featured as leader as well as sideman at many of the most prestigious festivals and concert venues throughout the world. His numerous recording and performing credits include the likes of Bobby Hutcherson, Ray Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Barney Kessel, Richie Cole, and countless others. Known for swinging bop-style phrasing and inventive harmonizations, his ability to work in a variety of settings keeps him in constant demand. His guitar work is featured throughout Clint Eastwood's Academy Award winning film, »Million Dollar Baby«.
His devotion to sharing knowledge –particularly with children– has been a constant throughout his career. Having taught since his late teens, he is keenly aware of the needs of developing musicians and is personally connected to all of his students, many of whom have moved on to successful careers as recording and performing artists. He has served as 'artist in residence' at numerous music workshops worldwide, has conducted seminars in conservatories and universities across four continents, is a Resource Team member for the IAJE and a longstanding member of the Monterey Jazz Festival Education Program.
In January 2000 he founded JazzMasters Workshop, a music-mentoring program that is free to student-age musicians. Beginning in 2001, JazzMasters achieved non-profit 501(c)(3) status and has operated more than 1,500 workshops throughout the nation. Through JazzMasters Workshops' auspices, many of the world's greatest touring and recording artists have had the opportunity to inspire and interact with the upcoming generation and to make a difference in the lives of children in their communities. In June 2003, the Jazz Journalist's Association recognized this work by bestowing an award for »Service To and Beyond Jazz«. In support of the workshops, Bruce participated in the 'Route 66 Challenge', securing per-mile pledges for the organization. Since the first trip in 2004, there have been many such oddyseys. All daily journals and pictures for the trips are archived at www.wayoutwestmusic.com.
Bruce Forman's music publications exemplify his passion for music and educating. The »Jazz Guitarists Handbook« (GSP Publications), is a critically acclaimed method book that clarifies the concepts of Jazz from a performance-based point of view. »Jazz Band Guitar« (Mel Bay Publications), is a no-nonsense approach to the big band for guitarists of all levels. His video, Jazz Guitar Soloing (GSP), encompasses the important musical aspects that make up an expressive and swinging solo.
In April 2003 his first published fiction novel, »Trust Me«, was released by Lost Coast Press. The story is a Faustian frolic, a guitarist's personal odyssey through Jazz, mysticism, and human folly. It has received rave reviews for its portrayal of playing music and the Jazz life.
He has thirteen recordings as leader, the most recent being a self-produced issue entitled Dedication, Bootleg Vol. I, (re-released by BluJazz Records, September 2003) a selection of compositions and arrangements that reveal his personal acknowledgement of many of the musicians and experiences that shaped his music. Among his numerous recordings as sideman, Bruce was prominently featured on Ray Brown's »Some of my best fiends are Guitarists«-CD, released in 2002.
September 2003 commemorated his 21st year at the Monterey Jazz Festival – where he was honored for his contribution to Jazz guitar with a trio performance with special guest Sherman Irby, and as a featured member of an all-star tribute to the late Bill Berry.
On the road, literally
In 2004, Cow Bop, a Jazz and western swing band featuring Bruce Forman won the Route 66 Challenge, traveling the length of the storied road, having departed Chicago with a mere $100 a no scheduled gigs. The band's CD, »Swingin' Out West« received wide acclaim and charted on radio charts in four different catagories: Jazz, Americana, College and Adult Contemporary.