Is it because they love the music? Were they really closet ABBA and Michael Jackson fans as kids but somehow ended up pursuing jazz because their guitar teacher or parents forced them into it? Perhaps but I don’t think it would be the case for most jazz guitarists playing with pop stars. You might argue that its for the money and I certainly wouldn’t disagree as I am sure it plays a big role but I think there is more to it. I also don’t think its just their talent because many pop acts don’t require guitarists with such high levels of guitar skill. Its a bit like hiring a 5 star chef to boil an egg for you. So what is the answer?
I think you will find that jazz guitarists make a lot of very important contacts along the way. Jazz players tend to study at music schools that are well connected to the pop scene. Its really a combination of their talent and their ability to network. In fact great jazz players are almost always great networkers. Someone like Miles Davis played with almost every great jazz player you can think of from his era. They don’t network so much to find work but to learn and share ideas. Great jazz players know that every jam will bring new inspiration. When someone like Taylor Swift for instance seeks a new band member the first place she is likely to start is by asking her current band members. If you are part of their network you may just get the call.
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