Chord Alchemy, a Student's Tribute to Ted Greene - Solo Jazz Guitar

by John March

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about

A Ted Greene Tribute Project, a student's journey and why I did this:

I had the great good fortune to know and study with Ted Greene for almost twenty years. Ted was the ultimate music and guitar teacher. He was known around the world as a true master of the Guitar, and for his innovative Harmonic style of solo guitar. To hear Ted play was a unique and rare opportunity to hear something extraordinarily beautiful. Every guitar player, young or old, famous or just starting out, wanted to study with him, and he always had a kind word and an enthusiastic response for every person he met. He was one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever had the privilege to know. He was also absolutely one of the best musicians I have ever known. A true Zen master of music. His untimely passing left a hole in my musical universe.

Over the years I had collected dozens of sheets of his lessons and solo guitar arrangements. In fact they are probably one of my most prized possessions. I always travel with them, in the same beat up folder I used during my twenty years of lessons. These arrangements are astoundingly beautiful and formidable solo guitar harmonizations and orchestrations of well known Jazz standards. They are also extremely challenging physically, musically and intellectually. For years I have half-heartedly tried to learn them, always with a deep sense of humility and slight intimidation, (ok I admit it, huge intimidation), at the task.

Last year , while participating in a Zen class, I committed to complete a project, where I would choose to do something that I have always told myself I could not do.

Well, long story short, performing and recording Ted's arrangements became that project. I committed to learn as many as possible and then record my favorite 9 arrangements. I did this because I have always told myself they are too difficult, too beautiful, and simply out of my league as a guitar player. My motivation was to prove those internal statements false, and to keep Ted's music/arrangements alive and current.

So I embarked on this musical journey. (I just had no idea it would take as long as it did!...but that is sort of how all true adventures and journeys are, I think.)

My hands would hurt, my back ached, my ears opened, and I can honestly say that I have never been happier, doing something simply for the pure joy of making something, as best I can.

I am NOT, by any means, a solo guitarist, and most of the time I can be found playing loud Blues and Rock guitar with a band, so playing really complex arrangements, naked solo guitar, was a big challenge to begin with.

I tried to delve deeply into these pieces. Songs that we all know, but approached and arranged by a true master of the instrument, and transmitted to his students, by example and through his documented lessons. The process has been an incredible lesson in music and humility. I learned more then thirty arrangements over a period of six months, then choosing the nine I would focus on to record. After deciding which arrangements to record I began looking for ways to play them and I would spend as much of my free time as possible recording multiple versions of each one, until it felt right.

I did not try to emulate Ted or his gorgeous sound, (I don't think that is even possible), but rather I tried to digest and perform these arrangements with my own "voice" on Guitar. I project that is what he would have wanted. To freshly re-imagine each piece. I spent a lot of time trying to record good natural sounding interpretations, sometimes recording hundreds of takes, just to get one decent one, and even then there were times where I would simply choose to start from scratch. One year went by that way.

Ted always encouraged me to find my own way on the instrument. That was his gift to all of his students. He could see something good in each and every person he met, and help them to develop that. With the exception of light percussion on a few tracks, everything you will hear is solo guitar. In fact the only guitar overdub is a second guitar at the end of "The look of love", a quick solo over a samba groove, just for fun.
Solo guitar is a daunting recording process because everything, every aspect is just so raw and exposed. I had an even greater admiration for Ted after doing this project.

Ted's great gift was not just music and these amazing arrangements, but his ability to teach and inspire with compassion, enthusiasm and clarity for all of his students. These qualities are what I remember and cherish most. It is rare to even just meet someone like that, let alone be afforded the opportunity to study with someone that generous of spirit.

I am proud to have been Ted's student. I will let the music speak for itself, in gratitude to my teacher and my friend.
This project, is a tribute to my teacher, but is dedicated to my son Jesse, who inspires me every day to be a better human being.

Thank you Ted.

John March

A small suggestion: (try and listen on good speakers, rather then just a 1" laptop speaker, thanks, and enjoy!)

credits

released October 1, 2012

John March Solo guitar
Bryon Holley Percussion
Recorded and Mixed by John March
Mastered by James Tuttle and Airshow Mastering

“This project is the culmination of a long and arduous mission, the result of a student’s reverence and dedication to his beloved teacher and mentor, Ted Greene.

John March has accomplished the goals he set out for himself by paying a musical tribute to Ted and his works, for the many gifts of learning about music, life, and in fact himself, that were bestowed upon him during the many years Ted graced his life.

Ted’s influence and spirit are subtly reflected throughout John’s interpretations of the beautiful pieces of music he chose to share with others.

Within each piece of music, the process of John’s growth as a musician and a person is evident. John overcame the most challenging obstacles to attain, what I feel, is a true expression of Ted’s spirit in capturing and immortalizing the inherent beauty and delicate nuance in Ted’s wonderful solo guitar arrangements of standards, as well as displaying some unique qualities, born from John’s history of playing the music of the blues.

Finally, and most honorable, are John’s intentions for creating this project. I know in my heart that Ted would be so proud of him. May it go forth into the world and work its magic with my blessings.”

Barbara Franklin - Author of My Life with The Chord Chemist: A Memoir of Ted Greene, Apotheosis of Solo Guitar

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John March Colorado

John March is a professional guitarist/musician, teacher, meditation facilitator, audio craftsman/technologist and consultant with over 30 years in the Industry. Recent projects include Chord Alchemy, a tribute to Ted Greene, Zen Blues Quartet and Guitar Talk Podcast with John and Jamie. ... more

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