The Ghost Jazz Trio is San Diego's only charting jazz band on the smooth jazz and jazz charts. Ghost Jazz Trio are 2021/2022/2023 nominees for "Best Jazz Album" by the San Diego Music Awards.
Based in San Diego, CA the trio features founder/guitarist/composer and producer James Morgan. James's current lineup for live performances are primary bassist and recording artist Nathan Brown. Nathan has performed and recorded with such notables as Bob James, Earl Klugh, Coco Montoya, Eric Marienthal. Other personnel that perform regularly with James Morgan are drummer Jack Nathan (Invisible Time, On the Level, Dreams Above albums), 2nd-bassist Lance Jeppesen and piano prodigy Chase Pado (On the Level, Dreams Above, Groovin Smooth albums).
All of the compositions on the 2020, 2021, 2022 albums are composed, arranged and produced by James Morgan and all three albums were nominated for "Best Jazz Album of the Year" by the prestigious San Diego Music Awards. All four Ghost Jazz Trio albums debuted in the top 100 smooth jazz charts four years in a row including the latest 2023 album released on Guitar One Records, and produced and arranged by guitarist Dean Brown, who also plays on the album and co-wrote many of the songs.
All four albums were recorded, edited and mastered by Grammy winner recording engineer Alan Sanderson at Pacific Beat Recording Studio in San Diego, CA
The latest 2023 ten song album release Groovin Smooth on GO Records is the fourth album release in four years from the Ghost Jazz Trio and features James Morgan on guitar. On this new release James is joined by guitarist, producer and educator Dean Brown, who co-wrote many of the songs and plays guitar, keys, synth and percussion on the album. All the songs on the album are produced and arranged by Dean Brown. Joining James and Dean on the album are renowned bassist and recording artist Nathan Brown. Nathan has performed and recorded with such notables as Bob James, Earl Klugh, Coco Montoya, Eric Marienthal and many others. Other personnel on the album are piano prodigy Chase Pado, drummer Tres Hodgens.
The album was recorded by Grammy winner engineer Alan Sanderson Pacific Beat Recording Studio in San Diego, CA Alan has worked on recordings for the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Michael Jackson and many others.
James Morgan grew up in northern California, and as a teen started listening to Return to Forever, John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Miles Davis and other emerging jazz fusion artists, inspiring him to take up the guitar. In the late seventies James was fortunate enough to take guitar lessons, learning fingering techniques and patterns from Bill Connors of Return to Forever fame. James does not read music and composes and performs by ear. James lived in Santa Cruz, CA and drove to Half Moon Bay weekly to take lessons whereby he formed a close friendship with Bill. James went on to become a bandleader throughout the following decades, writing his own compositions whilst forming various jazz fusion bands along the way, including his band Absolute Black, which was an opening act for singer Mickey Thomas of the band Starship in the mid 90s. 2009 to 2016 his jazz fusion band Dialog Project recorded a couple albums which achieved quick acclaim, being nominated for best jazz album of the year by the San Diego Music Awards, and opening for such acts as Allan Holdsworth, Dokken, bassist Stu Hamm and others.
More recently he created his own genre of jazz music “West Coast Contemporary Jazz” that is both relaxing and interesting. James formed the dynamic, and mysteriously named Ghost Jazz Trio, in 2017 performing locally in San Diego, CA for corporate and private events as well as small music venues and restaurants, building the GJT brand.
The 2020 album ‘Invisible Time’ was a complex and synergetic production that achieved critical acclaim and outstanding success in a short period of time, culminating in being nominated for ‘Best Jazz Album of The Year’ by the 2021 San Diego Music Awards and was featured on more than 150 radio station playlists worldwide, debuting in the Top 100 on the smooth jazz charts.
The second album “On the Level” released in 2021 featuring guest artist, guitarist Patrick Yandall (27 album releases to his credit). The album is an eclectic and spirited journey including elements of vibrant R&B, Smooth Jazz, Funk and Jazz Swing with some complex and intricate jazz arrangements which will demand attention, peak your imagination and raise the awareness of this talented and innovative Southern Californian trio.
The 2022 album ‘Dreams Above’ is an album that James Morgan had envisioned for many years as a concept to combine Jazz and classical symphonic strings (violin & Oboe) in a smooth jazz groove format.
The concept for the 2023 album release ‘Groovin Smooth’ produced and arranged by legendary jazz fusion guitarist Dean Brown who co-wrote many of the songs and plays on the album, was to create a groove format that features James Morgan's unique playing style, tone and the natural wood sound of James’s hollow body Pat Metheny Signature guitar. All of the songs on the album were recorded with the full band in the studio, adding some overdubs and ear candy to enhance the listening experience.
Little or no effects were used recording the guitar, to showcase the natural sound and beauty of the wood. James uses Thomastik flat wound strings and plays his guitar through a Roland Artist Blues Cube combo amp with 1 x12 speaker and his old Zoom G3X effects unit, using a slight reverb for the album and adding a bit of delay for live performances.
Ghost Jazz Trio founder and guitarist James Morgan and guitarist/producer Dean Brown discuss the Groovin Smooth album concept, recording process and other entertaining topics.
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