Meet Mike Baggetta: Guitarist and composer Mike Baggetta is originally from Agawam, Massachusetts, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Inspired by his father, he began playing the guitar while in high school after previously studying violin and trombone.
Mike went on to study music at Rutgers University, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree with high academic honors, and Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies. His talents have been recognized through a scholarship from the New Jersey Jazz Society, an invitation to participate in Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead residency program at the Kennedy Center, performing as a finalist in the Fish Middleton Jazz Scholarship competition at the East Coast Jazz Festival and being one of seven international guitarists to compete in the Gibson Jazz Guitar Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Mike leads his own quartet and trio, and co-leads the duo TIN/BAG with trumpeter Kris Tiner. In addition, he has had the pleasure of performing and/or recording with Tom Harrell, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ruth Brown, Conrad Herwig, Tony Reedus, Ralph Bowen, Kevin Norton, Joe Fonda, Bill McHenry and violinist Christian Howes. Mike's most influential teachers have been Ted Dunbar, Vic Juris, Ralph Bowen, Stanley Cowell, and Conrad Herwig.
He also cites master classes with guitarist Jim Hall as being particularly insightful. Mike is an Artist/Endorser for Evans Custom Amplifiers.
Teachers? I have learned from so many people, but the people I owe the most to, from close long-term study, are: Ted Dunbar, who taught me about patience, the importance of a positive work ethic and how the guitar actually works; Ralph Bowen for being the first person to teach me how to play changes with many options; Vic Juris for expanding my view of the guitar's possibilities; and Stanley Cowell for letting me explore the possibilities in music, helping me find my own voice and being a tough critic.
Influences? In no particular order Jim Hall, Miles Davis, Bill Frisell, Ben Monder, Ornette Coleman, Paul Motian, Mick Goodrick, Bud Powell, Joe Henderson, Bob Dylan, Lee Konitz, Paul Bley, Ethan Iverson, Nathan Blehar, Sonny Rollins, Bill McHenry and John McNeil.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... My dad would play songs for me on his guitar at home, and then taught me to play them along with him. I think one of the first ones was "I'm Glad There Is You."
Your dream band: Dewey Redman, Ron Miles, Paul Bley, Ron Carter and Paul Motian.
Did you know... I beat Thyroid Cancer while finishing my Jazz Studies MM degree at Rutgers University! (Don't worry - I'm fine now.)
What is in the near future? In addition to planning some short tours and other gigs, I am planning on recording two albums. The first will be with my quartet playing all of my originals written for the group, which consists of Jason Rigby on tenor sax, Eivind Opsvik on bass and RJ Miller on drums. Secondly will be a trio album with bass and drums of reworked standards and a couple of other originals.
By Day: I make most of my living right now from teaching guitar lessons and doing transcription work for upcoming publications.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.