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Phil Upchurch

A prolific guitarist who is comfortable playing blues, soul, R&B, and jazz, Phil Upchurch has been a prominent figure in Chicago music circles since the mid-'50s. He initially did freelance sessions with such musicians as Jerry Butler before becoming house guitarist for Chess. Upchurch's sensitive, often funky chording, riffs, and licks were heard on numerous releases by such artists as the Dells, Howlin' Wolf, Gene Chandler, and Muddy Waters. He frequently teamed with drummer Maurice White, who later headed Earth, Wind & Fire. He formed the Phil Upchurch Combo in the early '60s, and had a hit with the instrumental "You Can't Sit Down" in 1961. They did some follow-up singles, but none equaled the initial record's success. Upchurch did several soul-jazz and funk dates for such labels as Sue and Cadet in the mid- and late '60s. He signed with Blue Thumb in the '70s and split his time between sessions with the Crusaders and Ben Sidran and making his own albums. Tommy LiPuma produced Darkness, Darkness and Lovin' Feelin in 1972 and 1973. Upchurch did one LP for Creed Taylor's Kudu label in 1975, Upchurch Tennyson, with pianist/vocalist Tennyson Stephens. He returned to studio work, but recorded as a leader for Palladin in 1985, Ichiban in 1991, and Ridgetop in 1995 and 1997. He remains active as a session musician and bandleader, returning in 1999 with Rhapsody & Blues. Tell the Truth appeared in spring 2001. ~ Ron Wynn
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Progressions: 100 Years Of Jazz Guitar

Disc 1

2. Chain Gang Blues

5. Add A Little Wiggle

10. Danzon

11. China Boy

13. Swingin' On The Strings

15. Guitar Swing

17. Whispering

19. Little Rock Getaway

26. Red Cross

Disc 2

3. What Is This Thing Called Love

4. Body And Soul

7. Mountain Melody

8. Yardbird Suite

9. The Boy Next Door

10. Tocata

13. Bluesette

14. Midnight Blue

15. Unit 7

17. Move

18. Easy Living

19. Jean De Fleur

20. Night And Day

Disc 3

1. Clockwise

2. Just Friends

3. A Taste Of Honey

4. How Insensitive

5. Gypsy Queen

7. As We Used To Sing

8. Should Be Reversed

10. Birds Of Fire

12. Ralph's Piano Waltz

13. The Prowler

14. Bright Size Life

16. Midnight In San Juan

Disc 4

3. Thumper

5. Captain Fingers

7. Race With Devil On Spanish Highway

8. Cause We've Ended As Lovers

9. Church

10. Ron Carter

11. Hottentot

Comments

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Phil is best guitarist I know

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