Benny Green: Teaching Jazz to the Next Generation
Green has doubtless played in many more nightclubs than auditoriums during his already-lengthy career. Loud conversations and the clinking of glasses even during quiet ballads and soft interludes are facts of life for working jazz musicians like him. However, as he was quick to point out, this was a master class for serious-minded young musicians, not an entertainment venue. "Hey, this young man is up here, trying to learn about jazz and become a better player, and it's not fair to him. This is all about the music here, and there should be some respect for the process." Chastened, the audience and gallery quieted down, and Green continued on with his student.
The incident, understandably, didn't do much to relax the young pianist. When he tried to put the song back together again for Green, he did indeed concentrate on the new fingering; however, he also seemed irresistibly drawn back to a faster speed complete with glitches. "Hey, what happened to that nice slow tempo we were going to have?" said Green with a smile, putting a hand on his shoulder. "I'd really recommend that you go out and get one of these," he said, indicating the metronome and added, "if you can afford one, that is." The youngster indicated he could handle the expenditure and was willing to follow Green's game plan, and both agreed that the day's lesson had reached a logical conclusion.
With that, Green brought the class to a close, requesting a round of applause for all the participants and giving out some last words of sage advice and encouragement. "It doesn't matter what you play," he told them, "as long as you mean it."
B&W by Ron Hudson