Alex de Grassi Short bio
Alex de Grassi was born in Japan, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He switched from trumpet to guitar at the age of 13 and immersed himself in American and British folk and blues traditions, eventually studying jazz and classical guitar. Since then he has become widely acclaimed as a leading innovator and virtuoso of acoustic guitar, fusing a variety of guitar traditions into a highly orchestrated sound. The Wall Street Journal has called his playing “flawless” and Billboard hails his “intricate finger-picking technique with an uncanny gift for melodic invention." His early Windham Hill recordings of original music as well as his arrangements of folk, jazz, and world music have influenced a whole generation of young players. His 1978 recording, Turning: Turning Back (cited by Acoustic Guitar magazine among their top ten essential fingerstyle recordings), the subsequent recordings Slow Circle (1979) and Southern Exposure (1984), and his GRAMMY® nominated recording The Water Garden (1998) are considered classics of the genre. His most recent solo recording, Now and Then: Folksongs for the 21st Century, features his contemporary take on traditional folksongs.
Alex’s thirty years of international touring include performances at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Montreux Jazz Festival and numerous guitar festivals. Alex has been commissioned by Acoustic Guitar Magazine to compose a concerto for steel-string guitar and string orchestra, and twice by the New York Guitar Festival to score for their Silent Films/Live Guitars series. Festival director David Spelman says “Alex de Grassi is a treasure… his technical wizardry as well as his vibrant and poetic music-making make him one of the most distinctive steel-string guitarists performing today.” He has been a frequent guest teacher at the National Summer Guitar Workshop, the University of Milwaukee, and the Interlochen Institute, and he has given master classes at Berklee School of Music, Crown of the Continent, the Omega Institute, and many other music programs. He has served as the Artist Advisor for the Marin Community Music School, and been a guest speaker at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. The Alex de Grassi Fingerstyle Guitar Method, published in 2012 (String Letter Publishing), is rapidly emerging as the authoritative method for fingerstyle guitar instruction.
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