Guitarist Les Sabler didn’t have any formal music training until he attended Concordia University in Montreal, a culturally rich and diverse Canadian city with a fervent ardor for jazz. Legions of the musical art form’s legends played club dates there in the 1970s and for Sabler, the thriving local jazz scene and record bins became his instructors. “One thing that I learned then that I still strive for today is maintaining the highest standards,” explained Sabler.
In the autumn of 2007, Sabler released his fourth album, Sweet Drive, which confirms that the artist has remained true to his commitment to maintain lofty standards. The Brian Bromberg-produced disc is a varied, soulful body of contemporary jazz, R&B and adult pop music that delivers a master’s class level of musicianship, performance and production on eight thoughtfully composed originals and four carefully selected classics. Accomplished musicians Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Ricky Peterson, Vinnie Colaiuta, Alex Acuna and Gary Meek played on the record while the Jerry Hey-orchestrated horn section added warmth, fullness and explosive energy to the tracks. Critics praised Sweet Drive and the collection was nominated as Album of the Year at the 2008 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. Sabler, who performed at the awards show in March, earned a second nomination as Guitarist of the Year. Smooth jazz radio program Café Jazz named Sabler the #1 most played Canadian artist in 2007 while Sweet Drive was the #1 most played album by a Canadian artist, and “Club Street” was the #2 most played single by a Canadian artist.
His first recording project came in 1989 when asked to score a Canadian Television Network documentary titled Lost Treasures of the Titanic. The following year, he released his solo debut CD, Hidden Treasure. Five years later, Sabler’s second album, Time For Love, garnered radio spins and hit the charts, enabling him to land concert dates headlining or opening for artists such as Lorber, Spyro Gyra, Richard Elliot, Michael Lington, Diane Schurr and Fattburger.
In 2003, Sabler’s third album, Bridge the Gap, included an instrumental version of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Reasons,” which achieved top 20 status in some markets. The title cut went #1 at Canadian smooth jazz radio and ended up #8 on the yearend chart. The album exhibited staying power as Sabler was nominated for Album of the Year and Guitarist of the Year honors at the inaugural Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards two years later.
Like many Canadians, Sabler grew up an avid hockey fan thus it was a thrill for him to team with vocalist Marshall Gillon to perform the U.S. and Canadian National Anthems before numerous games for his adopted hometown hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, as well as prior to Tampa Bay Rays baseball games.
In September 2009, Sabler released “Live at the Sarasota Opera House” and radio stations were serviced with Sabler’s poignant live version of Sting’s “Fragile.” His current recording, “Crescent Shores” was released in August 2010 and the first single, an edited version of the title track has been serviced to radio.
“Like the artists that influenced me most, on my albums I set out to blend a variety of styles while balancing art and technique with commercial accessibility,” said Sabler. “The truth is that I’ve accomplished a lot more in my career than I ever hoped or could have imagined.”
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