Summerfield, Maurice J., 1940-
- Existence: February 4, 1940
Maurice J. Summerfield was born in 1940 in Newcastle upon Tyne in England. Summerfield is a guitarist, businessman, author, and publisher. He was first introduced to the jazz genre when listening to the recordings of famous guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910 – 1953). Summerfield began playing guitar in 1955, quickly finding gigs with local jazz groups and dance bands. In 1958, Summerfield joined his family’s distribution company eventually ushering in the import of musical instruments, specifically the guitar. The company distributed Ibanez guitars, D’Addario strings, and several models based on the Selmer-Maccaferri guitars that were popular with Django Reinhardt.
Maurice Summerfield wrote to jazz guitarist Barney Kessel for the first time in 1957, striking up a friendship. They wouldn’t meet in person until 1972 in London. The majority of the collection details their work together. When Summerfield completed his first book, The Jazz Guitar: Its Evolution and Its Players, he was convinced by Kessel to self-publish, which prompted Summerfield to open the Ashley Mark Publishing Company in 1978, naming the company after his two sons. Kessel and Summerfield worked together and stayed close friends until Kessel’s death in 2004.
In 2008, Summerfield published the only authorized Kessel biography, Barney Kessel: A Jazz Legend. He said of the project, “in some small way it [is] my thank you to Barney for the pleasure his music has given, and still gives me, and his warm friendship over so many years.”
Summerfield has been active in promoting the classical and jazz guitar genres. He founded Classical Guitar Magazine in 1982, was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 1997, and has served on the Court of the Worshipful Company of Musicians since 2003. Most recently, he was made an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2010, and in 2013 received the Industry Leadership Award from the Guitar Foundation of America. In May of 2018, both the Ashley Mark Publishing Company and Summerfield Musical Instruments Ltd. announced they were closing “due to the retirement of its directors”.