I began studying the guitar when I was seven years old. I hated my teacher and I didn't practice much, but when I changed teachers' and I went to Joe Geneli, I regained a love for the guitar that I first had when I was four years old when I first saw Roy Rogers sing and play. It was with Joe that I began to practice. I found an hour a day was sufficient, but as I got older and the music he gave became harder, I practiced longer. When I was fourteen I switched to Sal Salvador. ...read more
On June 11, 2013, guitarist Johnny Smith passed away. He was 90 years old. Some may have never heard of him, but in the world of jazz guitar he was legend.There will be many articles written about him. Besides the historical content of his accomplishments, I want to write about what he meant to me on a personal level and the thousands of other guitarists throughout the world.I was 14 years old when I started attending John Adams High School in Ozone Park, New York. Adams was a large school and had over five thousand kids ...read more
Back in February, All About Jazz Managing Editor John Kelman asked me to develop a column based on points I made in the comment section of the article BAM or JAZZ: Why It Matters. I still feel the same way, but trumpeter Nicholas Payton's statement that jazz died in 1959 made me think, and I've been thinking about it for seven months. Why 1959? I was 15 years old and going to Birdland on a regular basis. I saw everyone that was anyone play there and in other clubs, except for Charlie Parker, who had died in 1955.In ...read more
I very rarely watch award shows. I feel like the entertainment industry is constantly patting one another on the back. I don't understand the need to have so many of the same types of award shows. Artisans seem to have an irresistible need to be consistently told how wonderful they are and so very often. Why do I care so much? I care, because as a professional jazz musician, I feel the Grammys don't present or reflect jazz, as it should. After all jazz is America's Classical Music."I tuned in a few times over the years to watch ...read more
When I was asked to write a column for All About Jazz, my question was what should I write about? I was told anything that was music-oriented.I decided that being a professional musician for more than fifty years, I could write about the things I care about, know about, have strong opinions about based on my own experiences that might be worth sharing. In no way do I want the reading public to think this is about self-promotion. For me this is an opportunity to share my life experiences and hopefully they might, in some small way, help ...read more
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