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.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lesson Recap 6/9/14

I just returned from a good jazz guitar lesson with Dave Frackenpohl at GSU. I was ultra-prepared for this one. I wish I could say that about every lesson.

Dave gave me a lot to work on for this lesson, which included:

  • Satin Doll: 3-note comping exercise. This was pretty simple, and it was a good warm-up. These 3-note voicings are a good reminder that there is power in simplicity. I don't have to try to play every note of every chord. Even in a setting where the guitar is the only instrument, simple 3-note voicings often sound best.
  • Joy Spring: This is a workout! The melody is challenging on guitar (at least for me), and the chords are a little tricky to improvise over (at least for me), but I love this tune. It sounds so happy! Dave clued me into a simple Coltrane approach for when the chords come at you two to a bar. If you can't think of anything else to do, it's quite effective to outline the chords with a 1-2-3-5 pattern. That's an idea I'll be incorporating into other songs. Next assignment: Continue this song to build speed and work out some 1-2-3-5 Coltrane patterns.
  • Body and Soul: I did pretty well at this playing in the key in which I sing it (Bb). I've been singing it in this key so long that I had forgotten that the stock key is Db. Next assignment: Learn it in Db.
  • Bernie's Tune: This is a fairly easy song to learn, but it highlights my lack of dexterity. I can play pretty stuff all day long, but my fingers aren't very nimble. Next assignment: Dave gave me some scale patterns to practice. Over the D minor, I'll be practicing a D dorian bebop scale, and over the Bb7, I'll be practicing F dorian bebop and F melodic minor. It'll sound like mindless scale practice for a while, but it'll help speed up my technique.
  • Saint Thomas: I transcribed the classic Jim Hall solo, from his duet with Ron Carter. Aside from being a terrific solo, this is a great exercise in using voicings with octaves and 6ths. Next assignment: Memorize the solo and work it up to speed.
In addition to the assignments listed above, I am to memorize Angel Eyes, B├ęsame Mucho, and Song for My Father

Despite playing well today, most of my next assignment is a reassignment of the tunes I just played, but I don't mind. In repeating these songs, Dave is prodding me to dig deeper into the music and improve my technique. The work I put into these songs directly affects my understanding of the rest of my repertoire. I'm looking forward to further exploration in a couple weeks.

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