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"CD Reviews: Blue Electric Cool"

Curtis Fornadley , otherwise known as Curtis has released his third CD entitled Blue Electric Cool on the IF6WAS9 Record Label. At first glance, Curtis' recording is a highly evolved hybrid rock recording. Further examination reveals a very distinctive marriage between R&B, rock, fusion jazz, avante garde and '60s styled surfing music. The formula is instrumental guitar taken to another level beyond the rudiments of traditional jazz as some have come to recognize. Musically speaking, Fornadley displays some very ecletic skills on the guitar, coupled with a style that makes the transitional lines of containment invisible. In other words, his insightful blend of musical soundscapes into one influential base, with rock as the underlying theme makes the Curtis journey into jazz a gathering of perspectives.

With this release, Curtis takes a slingshot approach to his craft. He uses rock music as the projectile, while stretching his imaginative style of play far beyond traditional thinking. In fact, he appears to aim for the unknown as he takes his listeners into the realm of some of the unexplored reaches of creativity. Although jazz is the underlying approach, the tie that binds all of the ingredients into one collective containment of activity is Curtis' ability to connect the dots across a wide range of influences. Overall, Blue Electic Cool is a push beyond the familiar with the guitar rising into the forefront of influences. As a composer, Curtis' arrangements are imaginative and revealing, which allows him a degree of flexibility to be intuitively creative. Overall, this CD brings the element of surprise into an arena of jazz that has a totally different idea in mind.

-Sheldon T. Nunn
Originally published at
- Jazz

"Review of Blue Electric Cool"

Kicking things off with “Spanish Surf”, a track that sounds like “Herb Alpert meets Eric Johnson” the tone is set; this is a great CD. Blue Electric Cool is the third album from L.A. guitarist Curtis Fornadley . From the striking CD artwork to the sharp studio sound, there are a lot of fine guitar ideas on these 13 tracks. Earlier albums from Curtis (“Curtis” 1999 “ Room 137” 2001) provide a fine introduction to his melodic jazz-rock instrumentals. Now his 2005 CD, Blue Electric Cool continues to perfect his sound, adding Acid Jazz elements and a real horn section on three tunes.

Highlights include “Fire in Her Eyes”, which sounds like a post-modern, rockin Ventures style rave up. “Acid Exp. #2” evokes a fascinating new Acid Jazz sound for Curtis, while the Metheny inspired sound of smooth instro guitar jazz filters through on several tracks including the 7+ minute title track. “Tasty Burger” works in some voice samples sure to make you smile. There is even a tip of the hat to fusion icon Al Di Meola on the breakneck pace of “Race with Jesus on PCH”. Cool as ice and true blue, Blue Electric Cool features Curtis in excellent form on a number of electric guitars including a Fender Custom Shop Classic Strat and Tom Anderson Drop-Top Strat. Backed up by fine players like Dave Hill (bass) and Rob Chismar (drums), Blue Electric Cool reveals fresh musical ideas spin after spin.

- 20th Century Guitar

"The Daily Vault Album Reviews: Blue Electric Cool"

My appreciation for the guitar work of the likes of Ronnie Montrose and Larry Carlton has led me to listen to a fair amount of instrumental guitar music over time. One of the conclusions this has led me to is that there are a lot of guitarists out there who think they have both the technical and the compositional chops to entertain without words… and fewer who are right. Thus, I approached this disc with an attitude of caution.

Fortunately for both of us, guitarist Curtis Fornadley was more than up to the task of giving me an attitude adjustment. This consistently entertaining sophomore effort from the LA-based Fornadley -- who goes by "Curtis" professionally -- won me over with its sustained high quality musicianship, strong composition and occasional bold strokes.

The most appealing aspect of Blue Electric Cool is that these cuts are more than just jams, they're actual songs, with beginnings, middles and ends, builds that make sense and arrangements that leave space for interplay without ever devolving into self-indulgent soloing.

The second most appealing aspect of this disc is Curtis' eclectic taste and audacious mixing and melding of musical styles. A perfect example is this disc's opener, "Spanish Surf," which sounds just about like what you might hope for with a title like that -- the basic propulsiveness of a surf guitar tune, interspersed with unusual little Spanish-tinged interludes that incorporate exotic rhythms and synth tones.

Curtis delves effectively into Carlton-esque jazz-pop fusion (complete with horn section) on "Street Walkin'." "Fire In Her Eyes" has an almost Western feel to some passages (is that one of Clint Eastwood's old "man with no name" themes whistling through the background on the choruses?), then goes off on a sweetly twisting solo. "Nothing Can Bother Us Now" lays down a slow, sweet blues groove that had me snapping my fingers. "Rollercoaster" is an aptly named, energetic and rather Jeff Beck-ish jam which would sound even better without the synth accents. And "Tasty Burger" is indeed a very tasty blues-funk goof (again, with horn section).

One of the more interesting cuts here finds Curtis experimenting with a vaguely Eastern tonality and doing some nimble picking on "Race With Jesus On PCH" -- which in its latter stages jams hard and creatively enough to make me think of early '80s Rush (that's a compliment, son...). C also has some fun with the Prez in the rather menacing "Weapons Of Mass Destruction," and lends a rather proggish feel to the shifting, expansive title track.

At times Curtis goes a bit Stevie Ray Vaughan in terms of feel and use of distortion, and like any smart electric guitarist, he ultimately worships at the altar of Jimi ("IF6WAS9 Records"… yup). But his approach is a little cleaner and more mainstream than either. That's not a knock; simply a concession to the reality that Hendrix is Hendrix, Vaughan is Vaughan, and Curtis is Curtis.

The title of this album seemingly offers a nod to Joe Satriani -- Flying In A Blue Dream and all -- but Curtis is not a "guitar playing as gymnastics" kind of guy; he's a lot more focused and confident than that. Blue Electric Cool in fact fits the personality of this album beautifully -- clean, sharp, confident and fun. Enjoy.

-Jason Warburg
Originally published: June 15, 2005


"Guitar Nine Interview with Curtis"

Dan McAvinchey: Curtis, when did you first realize you had musical aspirations?
Curtis: When I was about 11, an older kid in the neighborhood started to play electric bass. I was fascinated by the power and feel of it and the amp. That summer all I did was listen to music, play air guitar and ride my skateboard. I was drawn to the "sound" of the guitar in the music I heard. Soon I asked my parents if I could take lessons. They were supportive, but I had to learn on the acoustic guitar they bought in Tijuana, Mexico before I was born. This nylons string "box" was not exactly a dream guitar. They wanted to make sure I was serious before going out and buying an electric guitar like I really wanted. My first teacher was a great classical player. So it all worked out; I received a great foundation in classical guitar and began picking out Kiss songs on this classical guitar after I finished my classical studies. A year later I had my first electric guitar, a Les Paul copy.

Dan McAvinchey: How about telling us about your guitars, amps and other musical gear, and how you use it to get your "tone"?

Curtis: For the past several years my two main guitars have been a Fender Custom Shop Classic Strat, and a Tom Anderson Classic Drop Top (S-S-H). I tend to lean more to the Strat, but sometimes there's no substitute for a humbucker in the bridge position. I also have a Gibson Les Paul Heritage that I use occasionally when recording. All guitars have DR strings (10's) and I use Fender heavy picks.

On "Blue Electric Cool" I used a Marshall 50-watt Plexi reissue and a 1965 Fender Deluxe. A variety of distortion/overdrive pedals, including a Fulltone FDII and a VZEX SHO were used as well. I used a THD hotplate to tame the volume, since both amps are non-master volume. I really went for the power tube glow sound on this CD. There are many shades of overdrive and distortion on this CD, like different colors on a canvas. Cabinets included a Bogner 1X12 and a THD 2X12, both with Celestion speakers. The Deluxe has a Weber speaker in it.

After the tracking was finished I sold my Soldano SLO100 and bought a Bogner Shiva head (EL34). So far this amp is working out great for live work. The clean channel is so good that I can cover both Fender and Marshall sounds with just one amp. My ultimate delay pedal has not been invented yet, but for now I use a Line 6 DL4.

For me, finding "my tone" is a journey without a destination; what I want changes over time. I am constantly trying new things; I usually try to sell the stuff that does not work so that I can try other things. I have detailed track notes on each tune at the web site

Dan McAvinchey: What would you consider to be your musical goals?

Curtis: I strive to make a music that all people, not just guitar players, will listen to more than once; tunes that you can come back to over and over again through the years. I love instrumental music and hearing virtuoso playing and the magic of improvisation, but for me the composition has to be there. I avoid writing, playing and listening to endless shredding that goes nowhere. So, I strive to find the right balance between composition, improvisation, technique and tone. .

Dan McAvinchey: Describe the evolution of your material from your 1998 self-titled release through your current release, "Blue Electric Cool".

Curtis: My first CD, "Curtis", was a collection of material, some of which was written while I was in my last hard rock band, Lunatic Fringe. It was written over the span of about 5 years. The "Curtis" CD was a transition from vocal based material to instrumental. My second CD, "Room137", followed two years after that. In retrospect, "Room 137" is a collection of tunes highlighting my favorite guitar styles. I am a diverse player and listener so I enjoy an eclectic mix of styles.

"Blue Electric Cool" is definitely a growth and departure from my previous efforts. It also includes a new band; Rob Chismar on drums and Dave Hill on bass.

"Blue Electric Cool" has a lot more band energy, since we play together a lot more than my last band. Since "Room 137", I also became a huge fan of acid jazz, which in turn worked its way into my writing. I made extensive use of keys, loops and samples on this CD to add surprise and flavor. I also worked with a horn section for the first time, which added a great dimension to the material. I feel "Blue Electric Cool" breaks some new ground and takes the "Instrumental Guitar" genre a step further. The guitar is front and center, but the variety of styles and tones keeps things interesting. The band is very proud of this CD, and I personally think this is the best work I have ever done.

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us what you have planned for the near future.

Curtis: Getting the word out and promoting "Blue Electric Cool". We are playing shows in support of the new CD and hope to set up some mini tours north and south of Los Angeles. I would love to make some connections to do some dates in Europe or Japan; any leads? Contact me. Other promotion for "Blue Electric Cool" includes a TV commercial we are airing on local cable television.

Rob Chismar (drums) is a video editing wizard. In fact, our live show includes video footage in sync with the music we are playing. This is a great multimedia experience that keeps the crowd engage especially if they expecting someone to start singing. You can view one of the videos at

Dan McAvinchey: What is the scene like for live music in Los Angeles?

Curtis: Los Angeles is a tough gig for original music, much less original instrumental music. There is so much to do here that people have overload and do not take advantage of, or appreciate, all this city has to offer. Many clubs are all about the scene and not about the music; these clubs have DJ's. There are very few live music clubs/bars that have there own following; most expect the bands to bring in the crowd. Dealing with club bookers and owners ranks very low on the fun scale.

The other dread is the freeways. People tend not to travel far once they are home from work. Conceiving people to sit in traffic to come see your show is tough. In L.A you have to have a car to get anywhere; which also puts a cramp in people's drinking habits. There are many reasons why L.A. is not a great place for live music. That said; there are a handful of clubs where you can frequently hear some amazing players performing instrumental rock/fusion.

Dan McAvinchey: How do you feel about the current crop of guitar-oriented magazines and how they are currently covering instrumental music?

Curtis: I have subscribed to Guitar Player for years and look forward to getting it every month but, it is very corporate and predictable. For the most part they cover the mainstream. There is no pulse on the instrumental guitar scene, which is unfortunate since there are so many great players out there. The new players that are profiled tend to be from young pop rock bands whose record company hired a publicist to get them coverage; Guitar World seems a bit better but is still very narrow and a bit more metal focused, I only get GW occasionally. Many times instrumental music is thrown in with metal even if it very little to do with it - as soon as there is a guitar lead or some distortion it is metal. 20th Century Guitar magazine does a lot for new and underground artists. It is almost a joke that, as far as I know, neither Guitar World nor Guitar Player has ever done a story on Guitar Nine.

Dan McAvinchey: Actually, Guitar World did a series of articles on music web sites in 2000, so as part of that, the site was featured in a Brian Stillman article in November of 2000. But you're right in that no guitar magazine has done an article on Guitar Nine Records as a company and/or service, and what it means to the artists that sell here (too much research required, I guess).

Back to the inquisition - what do you now find to be the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician and running your own label?

Curtis: Running your own label is the ultimate outlet for creating your music and getting it out to people. The alternative is sitting at home waiting for a call from a "real" label. Believe me, pinning your hopes on someone else making it happen for you is very frustrating and can turn you into a very weird person.

The main advantage of being independent is control, and not having to compromise. You can do it exactly the way you want. Of course, that also translates into a lot of work and money. Since, for most of us, budget is a limiting factor you have to do everything on a scaled down level. The biggest barriers are distribution and tour support. For most independents the Internet is now the primary method of distribution outside of selling CDs at shows. Touring outside of your home town can get expensive. It is a juggling act to bounce between running the business and performing playing and writing. It is not for everyone.

Dan McAvinchey: Can you share any marketing or promotion tips for musicians about to release their first independent record?

Curtis: The work does not stop after you have your boxes of CDs; it gets harder because now you have to put on your business and promotion hat. You have to be very confident in what you have created because you will face rejection. Not just from strangers that are not interested, or don't like your music, but from friends that seem ambivalent or jealous of what you are trying to accomplish.

Budget money for advertisement and promotion and be ready to do the footwork after the CD is done. The Internet is the corner stone of your marketing and promotional efforts. If there is not a guy in the band that can handle the Internet stuff, than pick one and make him/her learn it. We are lucky to have sites like and to take our products to. Relationships are every thing; talent is just not enough. Keep the plates in the air and follow up!

Dan McAvinchey: What do you see yourself doing in five or ten years time?

Curtis: Hopefully I will still be playing and creating relevant music that people enjoy. I hope to get more involved in film and TV music. I am sure I will still be on my journey for the ultimate tone.

Dan McAvinchey: If you could collaborate with any guitarist in the world on one recording project, who would it be?

Curtis: That is a hard question. If I limited it to people who are living I would have to look to who I would learn the most from compositionally. So, on the jazz side it would be Pat Metheny and on the rock/pop side Steely Dan (Donald Fagen and Walter Becker) or Paul McCartney. It would be quite an experience to work with one of the Beatles.

"Guitar Noise CD Review"

Here’s an apt-titled album. Curtis Fornadley’s inspired new album is simply great. Cool jazz, but not too-jazz. Just relaxed and to the point. Good musicianship without going overboard and becoming a competition between musicians, like too many jazz albums.
Rob Chismar is on drums, while Dave Hill plays bass. Curtis rounds off the trio with beautiful guitar licks and keyboards.
A few other musicians join in with brass instruments and Homer Simpson himself even makes an appearance…
Very melodic, great themes that actually go somewhere. A fabulous album overall which I highly recommend.

A-J Charron
(Posted September 12, 2005)


"Guitar Hero 2007 Competition"

"Curtis Fornadley punctuated his beautiful melodies by “scratching” the guitar against his chest."

see: - Guitar Player Magazine

"Featured Guitarist of the Week"

For the readers who may be unfamiliar with your work, how would you
describe your music?

I have used a couple of descriptions over the last few years, the latest being: melodic instrumental rock: virtuosity, soulful playing and great melodies. In general my music is guitar based instrumental music with a wide array of influences rock, jazz, blues, and surf.

My influences come from a variety of styles, which have blended together in my head; all this comes out in my writing. All my CD’s have a wide variety of styles, tones and feels; I think surprise is a great element in
composition and in selecting material for a record. This keeps things interesting for me and listeners. Traditional music marketing likes to put music into narrow categories, so my eclectic nature is a positive and a negative.

Who are your main influences?

In my mind musical influences can be compositional, guitar style, or both.

I have had many influences through the years, some of which have remained constant from early on like: Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

As a teenager Van Halen was a huge early influence; where I picked out and learned many solos, tried to emulate his tones etc., but then I kind of stop listening to him.

I really enjoy listening to the big three: Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, but I never spent any time actually learning their parts. These guys kind of defined modern instrumental rock records so I think
their influence is more approach and composition. It is now a challenge for me (and everyone else recording instrumental guitar music) to move beyond what they defined and create something that sounds new and fresh. This comes down to composition, arranging, instrumentation, tone etc.

Recent influences over the last few years include: Chet Atkins, Mike Stern, Wes Montgomery. Really, I now try and focus on moving beyond influences; carving out my own niche. The best players hide there
influences well and create something “new”.

So how did you get started playing the guitar?

I was about 11 and I was totally fascinated with the electric guitar; a kid in the neighbor hood had a Fender bass and an old Bassman amp. I learned on a nylon string acoustic guitar that my parents picked up in
Tijuana before I was born. I took some classical lessons and started picking out Kiss songs on the
guitar. Imagine “God of Thunder” on a nylon string guitar; I eventually got an electric guitar.

I had some good teachers early, on but like many players, most of my progress was made through self study and lots of practice; and listening to the right music.

What is one influential event that helped shape your playing style, or
take it to the next level?

During the recording of their most recent CD “Out of the Shell” (2008), a rough mix of the title track was sent to Guitar Player Magazine. The track caught the ears of the editors and I was selected as one of 10 finalists
in Guitar Player Magazine’s “Guitar Hero 2007″ competition.

At the show I had to performance first. I nailed the tune; I could not have played it better and I felt like I connected with the audience and the judges. It was a victory for me even though I did not win 

I think conquering the mental game of performing, at my best, in front of the “famous judges” (Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, Nuno Bettencourt, Elliot Easton, Greg Howe and Mike Varney), who are all great players, took
me to a new level.

So much of playing consistently well is mental; getting away from the noise in your head and tapping into the timeless flow where it all happens, and you connect with your instrument, the band, and the audience.

What kind of gear are you using?

My two main guitars are a Tom Anderson Classic Drop Top and Fender EJ Strat. I probably tend to favor the Anderson. I use DR strings (10’s).

On “Out of the Shell” I used a Bogner Shiva, a Marshall 50-watt Plexi reissue and a 1965 Fender Deluxe. My main cabinet is a Bogner 2X12 oversized.

Current effects include: Eventide Timefactor, RC booster, Zen Drive, Fulltone OCD, Fulltone wah, MXR phase 90.

I am always on a tonal journey. I am constantly trying new things; I usually try to sell the stuff that does not work so that I can try other things. For example I recently sold the Shiva and bought a CAE OD50. Different pieces of gear interact differently so if I change one piece it may lead me to changing another.

Gear pictures:

Describe a normal day for you. How much time do you spend practicing and playing, talking to fans, networking, etc.

Try to get at least 2-3 hours on practice in a day. I am online during the day so I am doing something for music on a daily basis. It is tough to keep up with the online social networking stuff and balancing music and the music biz.

What are you most proud of musically?

Every time I finish a record that is high point for me. This is then followed by the postmortem anxiety of getting out there and promoting it and selling it. Just because you are proud of something does not mean
others will recognize your achievement; so is the life of an artist.

Any other thoughts or words of inspiration?

Do music because you love it. Believe in yourself and just do it. “There is no trying; only doing”.

You can reach Curtis at -

"Guitar Player MySpace Review"

"What a dizzying ride! Fornadley barely lifts his foot off the gas throughout his onslaught of licks, riffs, bends, and Beck-isms—and the hyperkinetic vortex is further intensified by bubbling, gurgling loops pulsing under a relentless groove—but, like any good thrill, the adrenalin spike is well worth subjecting your ears to such a maelstrom."
- Guitar Player Magazine


"Out of the Shell " 2008
"Blue Electric Cool " 2005
"Room 137" 2001
"Curtis" 1998



Curtis is a power trio featuring original music that is a Captivating Mix of Instrumental Rock, Jazz and Surf. Curtis Fornadley, “a guitar slinger with a worldwide view and the technical ability to explore it" (Music Connection), is a native of southern California. His band includes Rob Chismar (drums) and Dennis McGarry.

Curtis Fornadley was a finalist in Guitar Player Magazines “Guitar Hero 2007” competition and received rave reviews from celebrity judges. To view this performance visit

The music of Curtis is unique; each tune is different from the next, yet there is a common thread that ties them all together: virtuosity, soulful playing and great melodies. The guitar is front and center, but the variety of tones and styles allow it to be enjoyed by people other than guitar players.

Curtis has great musicianship AND great tunes. Their live show is very entertaining and includes projected video in sync with the music. Curtis performs regularly throughout the south western United States and has enough music for three full sets, which include a mixture of covers and originals (please see set list for details).

Curtis released their fourth CD titled “Out of the Shell” in January 2008.
Other releases include:
“Blue Electric Cool” (2005) - In October 2006 “Blue Electric Cool” was nominated for Instrumental Rock Album of the year by
"Room 137" (2001) - "demonstrate the guitarist’s impressive skills both as a guitar stylist and composer” (20th Century Guitar).
“Curtis” (1998) - Fifty percent of the profit, from the sale of this CD, is donated to Cancer related charities.

The music of Curtis is very visual and well suited for Film and TV and has been featured on HBO, Fox Sports, and in internet sites and games. Discover the various moods and range of Curtis as a composer and instrumentalist at:

Curtis Fornadley uses and endorses: Seymour Duncan, Morley pedals, DR Strings and Pedaltrain.

For reviews and audio samples visit
Videos can be found at: