Sunday Night Jazz Showcase
Program #236 (February 3 at 8:00pm)
A seeker and healer as well as an artist, Arya Bruce BecVar makes music for its effect on people's lives. Listeners report feeling uplifted, soothed and joyful on hearing his music.
In the tradition of musical prodigies, BecVar records primarily in his own custom home studio, plays a variety of instruments, and produces and engineers all his own albums.
BecVar's relationship with music began at an early age. When he was 8, he picked up his father's ukulele and promptly began producing chords and harmony on it. At 9, he picked up the guitar.
His affinity for woodworking, combined with his love of music, naturally led BecVar to the fine art of building instruments. At the age of 11, he crafted a dulcimer from materials and plans given to him by his father, and by 12 had built his first acoustic guitar. He subsequently became apprentice to the town guitar repairman, working on everything from guitars to kazoos
BecVar's art and skill in the making and embellishing of instruments, along with growing recognition for his guitar compositions, brought him to Northern California in the early '70s. He set up shop in Sonoma where he became well-known as a Luthier, making one-of-a-kind electric guitars for such world-class rock 'n' roll bands as The Who, The Peter Frampton Band, Led Zeppelin, The Jackson Five, Earth, Wind & Fire and Carlos Santana. One of his guitars, ornate with exotic inlay and carving, now resides in the permanent collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Meanwhile, he continued playing and composing. Aided by the after-hours use of a recording studio in the music shop where he worked, BecVar began production of his first album.
In 1986, he released Take It To Heart on his own label, Shining Star Productions, and began working as a musician full time. The album met with outstanding critical acclaim as well as commercial success, validating Bruce's uncommon approach to music. Windham Hill founder, Will Ackerman discovered Take It To Heart, invited BecVar to perform with him in the Windham Hill Summer Concert Series in 1987, and included an original cut of BecVar's on the Windham Hill Guitar Sampler.
When he was preparing to record his second album, The Nature of Things (1989), BecVar couldn't find an instrument that produced the kind of sound he was seeking. Not surprising then that the former professional luthier decided to design one himself.
BecVar's third release, Forever Blue Sky (1990) was his breakout album, residing on Billboard's New Age chart for over a year. Then his career took a turn to the East. Early influences of Ravi Shankar, explorations of Eastern religions, and "divine synchronicity" led BecVar to vocalist-yoga instructor-healer Nada Shakti.
Their synergy gave birth to Samadhi, an intriguing collection of Hindu Vedic hymns and chants, accompanied by original instrumentation. BecVar and Shakti also combined forces with a group of Tibetan Lamas for the production of one of the most popular of the Tibetan overtone chant recordings, Tibetan Sacred Temple Music (1990), and later, Shakti and BecVar released Jiva Mukti (1994).
In 1992, BecVar released the more contemporary-sounding Rhythms of Life (1992), co-produced by Don Camardello (Ottmar Liebert) in his Santa Barbara studio. For the project, BecVar teamed with Paul McCandless (Windham Hill), Alex Acuna (Weather Report) and younger brother Brian BecVar (Kitaro band). The album, available through Higher Octave Music, is enjoyed by New Age and smooth jazz fans alike. Later that year, BecVar's mood turned spicy and bold, inspiring him to record the nuevo flamenco-flavored Arriba (1992).
The genre turned out to be perfect for guitar whiz BecVar, Arriba is fiery and romantic, with that silky BecVar touch. Indeed, it is so well loved that one cut, "Istanbul," is included on the top-selling Narada Collection Gypsy Passion, alongside songs by such artists as Ottmar Liebert and Strunz & Farah.
BecVar's most recent musical project before River of Gold was his immensely popular three-album series, The Magic of Healing Music, created for Deepak Chopra. The series, based on ancient Ayurvedic principles popularized by Dr. Chopra, consists of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, each intended to balance the particular "dosha" for which it was named. BecVar worked closely with Dr. Chopra and with Dr. David Simon, director of The Chopra Center, on the project. The series was later released as one double album, which continues to be a top seller.
(provided by Bruce BecVar)