Mings and Craig is a jazz guitar duo consisting of Jim Mings and Monty Craig. They are based in South Carolina and have self-released their first CD entitled, Day By Day. This CD is the culmination of 28 years of musical and personal friendship between Jim and Monty which began when Monty first arrived in Columbia in 1987 to study music at The University of South Carolina. Along with teaching at USC, Jim was a busy performer leading a quartet featuring the young saxophone child prodigy, Chris Potter. At 17, Monty was a regular attendant at weekly gigs of the band at the Columbia jazz club Pug’s.
Jim regularly performed with all of the top local jazz players which included: trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Dick Goodwin; guitarist Terry Rosen (played with Harry James and The Rat Pack as Sammy Davis Jr.’s favorite guitarist); trumpeter Johnny Helms; drummer Teddy Linder; bassist and vocalist Jim Ferguson; saxophonist Roger Pemberton (played with Woody Herman, Les Hooper, and Merv Griffin Show); drummer Andy Watson; and pianist Dr. John Emche.
In addition to playing with the local talent, Jim backed up many famous musicians traveling through Columbia which included Mundell Lowe, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Bucky Pizzarelli, Eddie Daniels, Bob Hope, Red Rodney, Bill Watrous, Lew Tabackin, Bernard Purdie, Ed Soph, Don Thompson, Ron Westray, Wycliffe Gordon, Laurindo Almeida, and many others.
Jim didn’t start his career in Columbia. When Jim came to Columbia in the mid 1970’s, he was already known as a guitar hero in his hometown of Austin, TX. By the time Jim was in high school in the 1960’s, he was one of the city’s top blues and rock players. By the age of 15, Jim performed nightly at the legendary Austin nightclubs of the time: The Continental Club, Vulcan Gas Company, and Armadillo World Headquarters. Among his early Austin days, Jim’s admirers were none other than the young Eric Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughan, both of whom have mentioned him in interviews as one of their early blues guitar influences. Eric Johnson mentioned Jim during an interview with Guitar Player Magazine in the 1980’s. During Jim’s time in Austin, he performed with many blues and rock legends, including Johnny Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, Janis Joplin, ZZ Top, and Jimmy Vaughan.
Monty’s love for jazz guitar began when he started taking lessons in high school from guitarist Charlie Wood in his hometown of Greenville, SC. Charlie had a career in jazz during the bebop era heydays of the 1950’s on 52nd street in New York City. Monty also studied with jazz/fusion guitarist, Tim Haden, whom had performed with George Benson, Stanley Clarke, Earth, Wind and Fire, and many other funk/rock/fusion/jazz bands.
Monty joined the South Carolina National Guard Band and met his other mentors, trumpeter Charlie Parker, and saxophonist Skipp Pearson. In 1990, Monty moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music where he studied with Al DeFino and Bret Wilmont. He also befriended fellow classmate Kurt Rosenwinkel and began learning from him. During his time in Boston, Monty finished his stint with the National Guard, performing with the Massachusetts National Guard Band in Fall River.
After Berklee, Monty joined the Army Band of New York City full-time and moved to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, NY. In NYC he reconnected with Kurt and took private lessons with him along with guitarists Ben Monder and Dave Stryker. Monty was transferred to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio in 1995 for his last year in the army band and then home to Greenville, SC to pursue his personal music goals. Once back in South Carolina, he reconnected with Jim, started performing and became professor of jazz guitar at Clemson University. In 2003 Monty released a recording of all original jazz compositions called Rocket Number Nine Zoom Zoom Up on the Contraphonic label. Monty has performed with Ben Street, Ben Monder, Chris Potter, Ron Westray, Wycliffe Gordon, Fred Wesley, and Jeff Sipe.
After years of musical experience, Mings and Craig present Day By Day, an album of melodic and swinging jazz guitar duets of classic jazz songs such as “Day By Day”, “Till There Was You,” “Nature Boy,” “Emily,” “I Thought About You,” “’Round Midnight,” and others.
Stolen from: https://www.facebook.com/MingsandCraig
Mings and Craig will appear on WXRY Unsigned LIVE from The British Bulldog Pub on December 20 , 2015.