IT STARTED WITH A SAX
JOSH WORKMAN (IM 1987) picked up a guitar when he was 10 years old. By the time he was 13, his teachers were showing up at his gigs in smoky North Beach bars, always wondering whether or not he’d be too tired to show up for classes the next day.
Josh was a student at Lowell High School with plans to drop out, attend City College and pursue his amplifier repair business, when drummer and composer Eddie Marshall–a leading figure in the evolution of San Francisco's contemporary jazz sound- got him an audition at SOTA on alto saxophone “since they didn't need more guitar players.”
“That changed my life…I got into SOTA and finally felt the support that I needed to develop in the arts.” Dividing his time between Instrumental Music and Visual Arts, he also developed a keen interest in Physics. Between his classmates– Sam Rockwell, Margaret Cho and Aisha Tyler– and his chief mentors– Eddie Marshall and the Pannones- it was a vibrant time at the School of the Arts, rich with inspiration. While his days were spent at SOTA, his nights and weekends were filled with performances and recording.
Josh spent a year at the Berklee School of Music in Boston and completed his studies at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. These two experiences opened the world of jazz guitar for him; a world which he has lived in for the past 30 years.
At the suggestion of pianist Armen Donelian, Josh began transcribing the music of John Abercrombie for German publisher, Advance Music, which led him to a 5-year stint as the house transcriber for Warner Bros., Hal Leonard and other music publishers. During this time, he recorded and performed with numerous artists, including world music ensemble D’Vash, various offshoots of the Groove Collective, and The Jazz Passengers featuring Deborah Harry from Blondie.
In 1995, Josh returned to the Bay Area and joined the critically acclaimed jump-swing band, Indigo Swing, honing in on the jump-blues and early guitar styles of T-Bone Walker, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and Tiny Grimes. Indigo Swing performed 200-300 dates per year, headlining many prestigious festivals internationally. In Germany, at the Stuttgart Jazz Festival, they shared the stage with legends Rosemary Clooney, Lionel Hampton and vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater.
In 2004, while touring with the Hot Club of San Francisco, Josh’s debut CD "Jumpin’ At The Border" was released, Among the talented musicians featured are: pianist and arranger Larry Vuckovich, who has performed with a multitude of jazz greats including Dexter Gordon, Philly Joe Jones and Jon Hendricks; on drums, two former members of Sarah Vaughan’s band; Harold Jones, once a member of the Count Basie Orchestra and Omar Clay, who performed with Charles Mingus and worked with Elvin Jones; Grammy-nominee and Tito Puente alumni, John Santos and vocalist Kim Nalley also performs on two tracks.
“Probably the oddest gig I had was touring as Lynda Carter's guitarist for a couple years. She played Wonder Woman on tv in the '70s, I'm continuing to play gigs, do some touring and recording, as well as write music for film, ...I'm currently finishing up a guitar instruction book and a jazz guitar sample library for non-guitarists to use with programs like Garageband. In fact, my guitar playing can be heard in the jazz portion of Garageband itself. Yes, there are many random ways to make a living in the arts if you look hard enough."