Reviews and Quotes

Here are some reviews of my CDs and performances as well as some quotes from fans and musical friends.

Review: Concert offers sense of Pittsburgh’s jazz family

Friday, January 27, 2012

Trumpeter Benny Benack III and guitarist Joe Negri performed a concert Thursday night that was more than a look at their own talents.

It was an examination of the decades-spanning nature of jazz and a Pittsburgh cultural lifestyle that links lives and performers through generations.

The trumpeter is the third member of his family to hold that name and perform jazz in Pittsburgh and other cities. His grandfather, a Dixieland and swing specialist, was a friend and colleague of Negri, who, at 85, still is advancing his remarkable talents.

Thursday evening at the August Wilson Center, Downtown, the two performed in a series that is examining duo jazz. The series is the creation of trumpeter Sean Jones, who also teaches at Duquesne University, and is being held in the club-like setting of a lounge at the center.

The evening had a club-like feeling, too, with the two performers chatting with the audience and providing an evening that was as friendly as it was musical.

This is from the Post Gazette in Pittsburgh:

Recordings, 8/8/04: New releases from Joe Negri, Max Leake

Sunday, August 08, 2004

By Nate Guidry, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rated:  3 1/2 stars

Jazz is alive and well in Pittsburgh. The proof is in the following new CDs by local musicians:

Most people will recognize Joe Negri as the affable Handyman Negri on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” But jazz fans will recognize him as an educator, composer and articulate guitarist who makes music that flows in waves of imagination and lyricism.

With the skillful arrangements of John Wilson, Mike Tomaro and Marty Ashby and a rotating roster of local and national performers, “Uptown Elegance” is Negri’s most impressive recording to date.

The recording is complemented with musicians like Eric DeFade, Ralph Guzzi, the brothers Ashby (Jay and Marty), Steve Rudolph, Roger Humphries, Gerry Niewood and Dwayne Dolphin.

Wilson’s wonderful arrangement of “Sweet and Lovely” for big band finds Negri crafting warm and hypnotic solos.

Negri, who pays tribute to the late Fred Rogers on “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” became familiar in neighborhoods nationwide beginning Feb. 19, 1968, when PBS began beaming Fred Rogers’ show across the country.

“The Best Thing for You” is another big-band arrangement that nicely fits Negri’s nimble solo.

Jay Ashby’s lush trombone intricate chords and arpeggios.

“Blues for Brody” swings hard and features Terry Gibbs on vibraphone and Buddy DeFranco on clarinet.

There are no lulls here. The disc was tightly arranged, and Negri’s playing is direct, authoritative and clear. It’s a great record, long overdue.

“Joe is not only the best royal handyman in the neighborhood, he’s a consummate jazz musician who delights us all.”

-Fred Rogers

Hey Joe, Wow these Cd’s are a home run! These are among the best jazz guitar Cd’s I’ve ever heard. I’ve never heard a jazz guitar improviser with so much taste, class, and swing in their playing. I just thought I’d send you an email. Great job!!

-Tom Mowrey – Guitarist, Singer and Songwriter

A Review of Joe’s New Melbay book – “A Common Sense Approach To Improvisation for Guitar”, from the website.


Featured Book: A Common Sense Approach to Improvisation for Guitar

Author: Joe Negri

Publisher: Mel Bay Publications

Year Published: 2002

Type: Musical Instruction

Format / Pages: Paperback / 37 pages

Review: A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO IMPROVISATION FOR GUITAR by Joe Negri, compiled & edited by Tim Bedner, is a nice way to learn the subject. The table of contents gives the guitar player such helpful information as “Playing Major Triads and their Inversions,” “Arpeggio Picking for the Right Hand,” “The Plagal Cadence,” “The Authentic Cadence,” “Phrasing and Articulation with Sweep Picking,” “The Upper Neighbor Tone,” among other topics.

There are also 32 figures to accompany the text. This would be an ideal gift for a beginning guitarist and would be enjoyable for the advanced guitarist as well. Easy, step-by-step instructions make this an entertaining introduction to its subject matter.

Additional Information: Check it out @

ISBN: 0786660813

Reviewed by: Lee Prosser

“Negri is a master jazz guitarist who converses with the Brazilian lexicon with the ease, rhythm and flair of a hard-working Carioca musician, It’s obvious from the opening statement, Jobim’s “O Grande Amor” that here’s a musician steeped in the technical know-how of his instrument, but what’s surprising about Afternoon In Rio, is how warm, beautifully understated and smooth most of the album is.”

-Mark Ruffin, The Brazilian Music Review