About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Playing Within Yourself

Last night I played at the Hungry Ear Coffee House. I used to host the show, and it was nice to return as a performer. The new host, Bob Bakert, is doing wonders with the Hungry Ear. It's always been a great place to play, but Bob has taken the show to a new level. The room is filled every month, and the performers are superb. It did my heart good to see how much the show has grown.

My band, Tea for Two, played at the Hungry Ear last night. We shared the show with Curtis Jones and Martin Norgaard. Curtis is an amazing guitar player with chops to spare, and Martin is a world class jazz violinist. We performed second, and I have to admit that Curtis and Martin are a tough act to follow. Martin's violin playing was spectacular, and Curtis can play guitar at a speed that I probably won't even approach for at least 10 years.

It would have been easy to be intimidated by such good players, but I've been reading a book that helped me stay in a good frame of mind. The book is Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner. I haven't even practiced any of the exercises in the book yet, but just reading through it has been helpful. One of the main points of the book is that to be a "master," you don't have to master everything. You just have to be a master at what you do. This really clicked with me last night. Nobody in Tea for Two could match the virtuosity of Curtis and Martin, but we didn't have to. Blazing speed isn't our thing. Our musical strength is our sense of vocal blend and ensemble. (That's not to say that I wouldn't like to have Curtis' technical skills. As a matter of fact, I work daily on my speed so that I will eventually possess the technique to play whatever comes into my head.)

If we had taken the stage last night and tried to be instrumental wizards, we would have flopped. Curtis and Martin did what they did very well, and we did what we did very well. We sang our hearts out, sang tight harmonies, played some tasty solos, supported the singing with understated but effective instrumentals, and connected with the audience. I was happy with our set, and the audience really seemed to enjoy themselves. The people left smiling, happy, and humming our songs. You can't ask for much more than that.

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