“I use pedals for timbral changes on guitar – it’s like a horn where your breath affects the tone”: Meet Ava Mendoza the punk-reared jazz guitar maverick turning breath work to fretwork

Ava Mendoza
(Image credit: Provided/PR)

As a mainstay of the New York City jazz scene, Ava Mendoza has been around the block a time or three. But that doesn’t mean she lacks passion. “Music is my religion,” she says, “It’s important to me to be around people who are devoted to it.”

But Mendoza isn’t only a disciple of jazz. Hell, she doesn’t even consider herself a true “jazz musician.” Growing up in Southern California, she was exposed to everything from Latin American to classical music before latching onto off-kilter alternative sounds, including Black Flag and Sonic Youth.

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Andrew Daly

Andrew Daly is an iced-coffee-addicted, oddball Telecaster-playing, alfredo pasta-loving journalist from Long Island, NY, who, in addition to being a contributing writer for Guitar World, scribes for Rock Candy, Bass Player, Total Guitar, and Classic Rock History. Andrew has interviewed favorites like Ace Frehley, Johnny Marr, Vito Bratta, Bruce Kulick, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Rich Robinson, and Paul Stanley, while his all-time favorite (rhythm player), Keith Richards, continues to elude him.