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.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lesson #8

Continuing my practice of writing about each lesson with Dave Frackenpohl at GSU to help wrap my head around each new assignment and help other jazz guitarists who may be on the same path.

These past couple weeks have not been ideal for practicing my lesson material. I took a last minute gig a couple weeks ago, I've been doing the usual busywork that accompanies the end of a church year, and I've been preparing for a wedding gig by assembling a book for the bass player, writing up set lists, and a host of other niggling details that go into putting together a successful gig.

In spite of all that, I managed to make some progress on my lesson material. I didn't have time for every part of the assignments, but I worked up more than I thought I could.

We began with the three whole tone scale forms that Dave assigned and then went into the assignment from the new Brazilian Guitar Book. Then we played through I'm Beginning to See the Light. After that, we worked on Gone with the Wind, focusing especially on a Wes Montgomery solo that I just finished transcribing. That pretty much exhausted the material that I had prepared, but we still had plenty to work on.

We spent time talking about improvising without any back-up. It looks like we're going to be spending some lesson time on this for the foreseeable future, and I couldn't be happier! Dave gave me a sheet of ideas and strategies for pure solo improvising called Unaccompanied Jazz Guitar – Making It Manageable. This one page sheet is an absolute gold mine of ideas! We're going to focus on just one or two ideas at a time, which is good, because I think my brain would overload if I tried everything at once.

Here's my new assignment:

  • Continue the "Samba" section of The Brazilian Guitar Book, pages 30-36. These are all four-measure examples of samba groove variations.
  • Finish the transcription of a Joe Pass solo over I'm Beginning to See the Light. I had started this for this week's lesson but hadn't had time to finish it.
  • Increase the tempo of the Wes Montgomery Gone with the Wind solo that I transcribed. I was happy just to memorize it for today. Now I just need to get it closer to tempo.
  • Memorize Summertime and Corcovado. I already have Summertime memorized. I kinda sorta know Corcovado by memory just because I've performed it a number of times. We are using these two practice unaccompanied improvising. I'll be using two strategies for this. One is what Dave called the "2+2" plan: 2 bars of comping/2 bars of soloing and vice versa. The other is also a "2+2" plan: 2 bars of comping or solo/2 bars of melody or vice versa. I thought I knew the melody of Fly Me to the Moon pretty well until Dave had me try this approach! It was awfully tricky to jump from comping or soloing and pick up the melody in the middle. Back to the woodshed!
Unaccompanied soloing is one of the major skills I want to possess, so I'm super excited about this new direction!

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