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Pulling strings
Jazz artist, guitarist to make repeat performance

Steve Oliver is a guitarist, but he can also create the sounds of a flute, trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, violin, virtually any instrument sound - all with his guitar.

Oliver worked with Carvin Guitar Company in San Diego to develop a guitar with a built-in synthesizer, an idea that stemmed from his appreciation of keyboards, which can produce a variety of sounds through a synthesizer.

"I wanted to be able to play the guitar and then also basically make sounds like a keyboard player would from the guitar," Oliver said. "I went to (Carvin) about this idea, and they were very intrigued. We came up with this guitar called the NS1, which is the Nylon Synth," he said, a classical guitar that allows the instrumentalist to plug into a pedal board, keyboard or sound board to trigger a variety of sounds.

"It's pretty amazing," Oliver said. "It's totally expanding the guitar's sonic possibilities, and for me, as an artist, it's a revolutionary thing to do."

If you're interested in seeing how Oliver's guitar works, he'll be performing in a Suwanee Smooth Jazz 107.5 Series concert that begins at 7 p.m. tonight with jazz drummer Bernard Linnette opening the show.

And in addition to his guitar talents, Oliver is also a singer.

"My show is kind of like half vocals and half instrumental," Oliver said. "In fact, my next album is going to be an all vocal album. It's kind of pop, world music with some jazz thrown in, like Sting, Peter Gabriel, that kind of vibe is what I do."

Oliver's latest release is a DVD-CD two-disc set of his greatest hits - "One Night Live" - which includes six new songs and was filmed and recorded at a theater in California.

"It just came out great," Oliver said. "It was shot in one night, one show, in front of the audience and we kept everything. We captured a moment."

Repeat performance

Oliver said he is happy to return to Suwanee for the city's concert series highlighting jazz music.

"I love it because not only being a free event, it enables a lot of people to be exposed to this type of music," Oliver said. "It's just fun music. It just makes you feel good."

Oliver will perform with Humberto Vela, who will accompany him on percussion and drums.

"It's very innovative." he said of their collaboration. "It sounds like a full band, (and) that's what the DVD is about, that's what we wanted to show."

Oliver said those who attend his show in Suwanee can expect a fun time.

"I really involve the audience in the shows." he said. "I get them to sing and do weird sounds like what I do with my voice. Most of the time everybody participates, so it's a 50-50 exchange with the audience and us."

SideBar: If You Go

What: Suwanee Smooth Jazz 107.5 Series concert, featuring Steve Oliver and jazz drummer Bernard Linnette opening the show

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Suwanee Town Center stage at the intersection of Buford Highway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road

More information: Call Lynn Bohlman DeWilde at 770-945-8996