here is no doubt in Dr. Edwin Stone's ability to heal as a practicing physician for 16 years. But on the jazz guitarist's third CD, "King of Hearts," Stone makes a rhythmically variant musical statement that says his hands can heal-and charm.
"Automatic," the CD's first single, is receiving radio play on Smooth Jazz V98.7 (WDZH-HD2) and quickly becoming a fan favorite even among the most highbrow of jazz lovers; hard to believe, Stone, 52, was at novice level just a few years back. The track is one of Stone's favorites, too, and appropriately so-as it showcases his surgically precise guitar finger work.
Sometimes compared to George Benson, Stone gives a smooth jazz sound to some '80s hits on the album-featuring covers of "The Rhythm is Gonna Get You" by Gloria Estefan, and "Treat Her Like a Lady" by The Temptations-but explains his musical influence began with '60s music super icons, The Beatles.
So how did an amateur musician from Seattle, who learned jazz riffs firsthand from the late great saxophonist Joseph Brazil, find a double life as a doctor and jazz crooner? It all began with the film starring The Beatles.
"I saw 'A Hard Day's Night' at 8 years old. After I saw all those girls screaming at The Beatles, and I heard the music was real catchy, I was like, 'Oh, my God, I gotta make a guitar,'" Ed Stone says. After practicing for a while on a makeshift guitar, Stone's aunt bought him a real one, igniting a love affair with music.
"It turns out there were some kids in the neighborhood who played drums and guitar and bass guitar, and we all kind of met up," he says. "Me and a young bass player learned a song by the Staple Singers called, 'I'll Take You There.' Right after we learned that song, we were telling some other kids and formed a band."
The band attracted the attention of native Detroiter Brazil, who headed a jazz community orchestra in Seattle and regularly practiced with legend John Coltrane. "Back in those days there was a music scene, that's for sure," says Stone, laughing. "So I was always in the environment with the big older players. That helped a lot."
Stone's early influences, which include Earth, Wind & Fire, Mozart, Antonio Vivaldi and Ella Fitzgerald, are heard in what he calls his signature up-tempo sound, a toe-tap type of jazz without being too funky.
"Kinda cool, mellow, not funky smooth jazz. When I go and play the live shows, I like to keep the mood up. I like folks to be able to pat your feet when you're listening," Stone says.
After spending several years playing gigs as a young guitarist, Stone took a hiatus to focus on school and his future.
"As I got older I realized, 'Eh, music is cool and everything, but I want to be stable. And I want to have a decent life,'" Stone says. Receiving a Bachelor of Arts in speech pathology, Stone decided on the medical school program at Wright State University in Ohio.
In 1993, after finishing his medical residency in Detroit, Stone soon started a musical residency at Baker's Keyboard Lounge.
"I started picking up the guitar again and playing more seriously. Meeting up with the guys to find out about the music scene. Then I cut my first CD in 2001," Stone explains. "I was in Baker's a lot. About four years straight. That really helped me hone my chops in front of an audience. I had a lot of growth here in Detroit, because we have some real young players out here that can play. So I was competing to keep up with them."
And "King of Hearts" is what Stone calls his compilation of those skills.
"I really like the whole album. So, I am happy," he says.
"If you listen to 'In the Morning Light' (Stone's first album), you will say, 'Oh that's nice,' but there are some things missing. Listen to 'Magic Rhythm,' which came out a few years later, you'd say, 'Mmm, that's pretty good.' It's got a lot of bells and whistles and you can tell the skill level and the technique of the guitar is better. And then you listen to 'King of Hearts' and you will say, 'Hey, that's nice. That one is hot.'"