The finale of the Wes Montgomery International Jazz Guitar Competition was held this Saturday, October 10, in New York City, and the talent was beyond impressive! In the end, it was Pasquale Grasso, who came out on top. He’s photographed here with his grand prize, a Pat Martino Signature Model Benedetto guitar alongside (LtoR) Howard Paul, Mark Whitfield, Pat Martino, and competing finalists Roland Balogh, Michael Valeanu, and Dan Wilson (Lucian Gray not pictured).
Pasquale was born in Italy and began guitar at a very young age. His principle instruction was with Chuck Wayne’s student and jazz guitar innovator, Agostino Di Giorgio. Another extraordinary influence in Grasso’s career has been bebop piano master and world-renowned jazz educator, Barry Harris.
In 2008, Pasquale pursued classical guitar studies in the Music Conservatory of Bologna under Professor Walter Zanetti. During his time at the conservatory, Grasso developed a new approach to the guitar, combining classical tradition with Chuck Wayne’s modern technique.
In 2012, Grasso moved to New York City and quickly made a name for himself in the city’s vibrant jazz scene. Grasso became part of the Ari Roland Quartet and the Chris Byars Quartet, performing in clubs, music festivals and recording in the studio regularly. Later that year, Pasquale was named a Jazz Ambassador with the US Embassy, going on to tour extensively across Europe, Kuwait, Kazakstan, Cyprus, Lithuania, and Ukraine, among others.
Despite his young age, Grasso has performed with many leading musicians of the international jazz scene such as: Barry Harris, Charles Davis, Freddie Redd, Frank Wess, Leroy Wiliams, Ray Drummond, Murray Wall, Steve Grossman,Tardo Hammer, Jimmy Wormworth, John Mosca, Sacha Perry, Ari Roland, Luigi Grasso, Chris Byars, Zaid Nasser, Bucky Pizzarelli, China Moses, Harry Allen Quartet, Grant Stewart, Stepko Gut, Nicolas Dary, Dado Moroni, Agostino di Giorgio, Michel Pastre Big Band, Gianni Basso Big Band, Joe Cohn, Oscar Zenari, Luca Pisani.
All in all, it was an evening of stunning performances!