MUSIC - Roberto A. Tyson - Guitarist, Arranger and Composer

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Roberto has been performing musical magic on his rhythm guitar since his early youth. He comes from a musical family, and was schooled in the ways of the grandmasters of jazz by his father, also a guitarist and assisted in his musical evolution by his mother, a singer and pianist.

Early in his musical career, Roberto was a noted child prodigy and obtained a reputation for the quality of his musical sounds.  Growing up around the guitar created a natural attraction to the instrument and he began strumming it while still a toddler.  It was not the first instrument he attempted, but quickly became his unwavering musical extension. 

Roberto's father has been his biggest influence and mentor.  His father was both a guitarist and percussionist, and played with one of the most well known musical groups in the West Indies, "The Louis Stackman Orchestra" for a number of years.

Noting Roberto's early enthusiasm, his father encouraged his interest in the guitar. Roberto's formal musical instruction, by his father, began when he was seven years old. In the beginning, it entailed the understanding of musical chords. Roberto notes that his father's favorite saying was "you've got to learn the chords" and Roberto says he has found this to be true. His foundation in music is based on his early learning of chords and the roots of them. When Roberto's family moved to NYC, his father purchased Roberto's first instrument at age 17 - an Ibanez Sunburst guitar - which he still performs with.

Roberto plays guitar with an open hand. He says, "open hand attunes the guitar" to him. He told me, "the men of the Caribbean always played with their hands. Either a 'finger style' or they used an open hand when they strummed. Open hand gives a smooth and percussive sound".

He uses a pick, but he prefers playing with his open hand and thumb to get a feel for the instrument. Traditionally, his father and all his father's friends who played guitar, played with an open hand. This is also the style of the Flamencoists.

 Outside of his father, Roberto says four guitarists influenced his passion for playing. Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, George Benson and Pat Martino.

Wes Montgomery, Roberto said, sounded like his dad. Wes did not play with a pick. Roberto said it was both natural and easy for him to emulate Wes' style.

Joe Pass, Roberto loved Joe's style and taste in chord melody. Like Joe Pass, Roberto would like to someday play an entire concert solo.

George Benson, Roberto first saw him in a music magazine advertising a Guild X500 guitar. He would fantasize about having a setup like the one in the magazine. Later he got to hear George Benson and was influenced by his interpretation of songs. He says, "George Benson has an incredible range. His bluesy edge incorporates different jazz sounds.

Pat Martino, his music got into Roberto at age 16. What Roberto liked about his playing was Martino's dissonance. The notes are abstract. They are a little off to the right or left. Roberto says 'Martino is a technological demigod". He sees Martino as a "musical beast or monster", which is not to be taken negatively.  The comparison is to the awesome-natural power of the artist. Martino's musical style and contributions to the art are profound influences on Roberto's style and how he sees and interprets the music he plays.

From, what seems to me the view point of an abstract artist, Roberto says "When I listen to Benson's music, I see colors. With Wes, I see shades of light and shadow. Joe Pass music is an embodiment of the three so Joe is the whole picture." When Pat Martino plays, Roberto says "I see shapes. The music is geometric with abstract notes to the chord."

TnT When Roberto solos, he does not hear the notes, he hears the chord, which goes back to his dad.

DCB: An enjoyable combination, Roberto's smooth riffs and Arch Thompson's fluid Latin Jazz melodies light up any place they combine their arts.  Catch them when you can performing as TnT.