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Artist Profiles

George Garzone: Steering Clear of Ideology

By Published: May 21, 2008
George Garzone Unlike other musicians who reluctantly enter academia, Garzone has embraced the mentor role and has been one of the field's true innovators. Starting in the late 1970s, he conceived the chromatic triadic approach, a harmonic template designed to give an improviser harmonic freedom through a strict adherence to rules designed to force the player out of familiar harmonic territory. Think of it as a kind of twelve-tone method for improvisers. "I tell these kids that if you can figure out two or three notes that run a little different than everyone else's, you'll be working your ass off. I figured out how to veer away from what everyone else was doing," he explained. The concept involves connecting triads in all manner of inversions by half steps, thus forcing the improviser to abandon the traditional bebop orthodoxy taught in schools and approach something closer to true harmonic freedom. "At this point, coming up on 2010, you need to be playing something else. Lennie [Tristano] and Lee [Konitz] were blowing this shit in the 1950s. Controversy is a good thing and that's what my concept creates."

Garzone's controversial concept is due out in print this year [2008] from JodyJazz publishing. The Chromatic Triadic Approach features an instructional book and DVD of Garzone demonstrating his concepts and is geared toward musicians who can't learn the concept directly from its creator. "I put together this process on the blackboard and bandstand. It doesn't look good on paper; it needs to be demonstrated," remarked Garzone and the printed method attempts to do both. If it's successful, it could introduce a whole new group of creative musicians to the saxophonist's concept toward achieving harmonic freedom and would be a double boon. "The hardest crowd to convince is the students. That's your most critical audience. If they like it, you're in; if not: you're out."

Selected Discography

George Garzone, One Two Three Four (Stunt, 2006)

The Fringe, The Fringe: Live at Zeitgeist (Resolution, 2005)
George Garzone, The Fringe in New York (NYC, 2000)

George Garzone, Four's and Two's (NYC, 1996)

The Fringe, It's Time for the Fringe (Soul Note, 1992)

The Fringe, Raging Bulls (Ap-Gu-Ga, 1986)

The Fringe, Eponymous (Ap-Gu-Ga, 1978)

Photo Credit
Ayn Inserto

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