“It’s a concept that’s been tried before, but I don’t think quite successfully.” Wayne Riker, an Encinitas guitarist and author of nine guitar-instruction books, says that his own compilation CD, Guitar Decathlon, will be different, times ten. He points out that axe master Arlen Roth attempted such an undertaking back in the ’90s. It was good, he says, and it featured a different guest on every track, but it was too much of a hot-licks fest for Riker’s tastes.
This fall, Riker will begin laying down individual tracks at Studio West in Rancho Bernardo toward completion of his own compilation. “Ten tracks, ten styles, and ten top-shelf guest guitarists from the greater San Diego area.” Each track, he says, will feature dual guitars, bass, and drums. No horns or keys. “I’m going from hard rock to mainstream jazz to everything in between.”
To date, Riker has enlisted a broad range of local stylists. The current roster includes Laura Chavez, Peter Sprague, Andy Tirpak, Robin Henkel, Mike Pfaler, Jim Soldi, Dan Papaila, Jimmy Patton, Tony Tomlinson, and Fred Benedetti. With a release date planned for March or April of 2012, recording begins in November.
Riker will play on all tracks as well as produce. “They’re all my original compositions.” He likens his recording process to an Alfred Hitchcock production, meaning, for the most part, unscripted. He wants improvisation in the studio. “The musicians,” he says, “will mold each track in their playing.”
Riker plans to send promo packs out to radio stations such as Jazz 88.3 KSDS, in San Diego, and other similar stations across the country in order to build support the old-fashioned way, via the airwaves.
The roots of the decathlon stem from Riker’s respect for the level of local talent. “All of these players I’ve either heard of over the years or I’ve played with, and they’re all guitarists that have a high musical IQ. If I go see any of these players, they’re gonna be right on the mark with the right chord voicings and hip solos and,” he says, “unique styles. I’d love to see them get the recognition.”