Acclaimed jazz guitarist, instructor Andre Bush dies at age 45

Andre Bush was on a quest to realize his musical vision with a single instrument — the guitar. The longtime Fresno jazz guitarist and instructor recently had been working on new compositions with a guitar trio with that goal in mind.

Mr. Bush died unexpectedly Aug. 8 at the age of 45.

"He had a wide-eyed wonder for the beauty of guitars," says Roger Perry, a friend and local musician who met Mr. Bush more than 30 years ago while working at Archer's Music in the Tower District.

Perry was just a teenager at the time and Andre was 11 or 12.

"Even when he was a kid, he could play. He was not just good for a little kid, either. He could play," Perry says.

Over the years, the Roosevelt School of the Arts graduate earned national acclaim for his skills as a studio musician and touring guitarist. His collaboration with singer Nnenna Freelon on the album "Blueprint of a Lady" earned him a Grammy nomination in 2005.

Just last year, music critic Scott Yanow cited Mr. Bush as one of the 342 most significant guitarists in jazz history in his book "The Great Jazz Guitarists: The Ultimate Guide."

As an instructor, Mr. Bush released his own book/CD package "Modern Jazz Guitar Styles" through Mel Bay Publications in 2005.

He also taught theory, history and improvisation classes at The Jazzschool in Berkeley and recently had close to a dozen students at The Voice Shop in Fresno.

Before his death, he had interned as a counselor with Salvation Army Fresno ARC and was in the midst of writing "Art and Soul: Understanding Psyche and the Creative Process," which focused on the psychology of creative development.

There is much to be missed from Mr. Bush's passing, Perry says, including the sense of joy the guitarist seemed to get from music, whether he was teaching or playing.

"He got something from a song, more than he gave to it," Perry says.

A celebration of Mr. Bush's life will be held 2 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Belmont Country Club, 8253 E. Belmont Ave. A memorial concert is being planned for October.

Donations in Mr. Bush's memory may be made to Jazz Fresno, the Sophia Bush college fund or a charity of choice.

Andre Bush

Born: June 3, 1969

Died: Aug. 8, 2014

Occupation: Musician, instructor

Survivors: Parents Celsa and Scott Shewan; daughter Sophia Bush; former wife Dawna Mickaels Bush and partner Kate McKnight

Services: A celebration of life will be held 2 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Belmont Country Club, 8253 E. Belmont Ave., Fresno

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, or @joshuatehee on Instagram and Twitter. Read his blog