The Backline

Jazz is something I have always been interested in, from an early age. I was lucky enough to have this great music teacher in elementary school, Mr. Miller. I played sax, and he actually convinced a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds that they could play Glen Miller's original arrangements and perform songs like In the Mood, St. Louis Blues, and Moonlight Serenade. Not only that, we had a concert that was taped live, pressed records (yes, made out of vinyl) and sold them to support the band. I really grew up thinking every kid played on and made albums! I had been performing jazz for about 2 years before I heard my first Rock ' Roll song, but that's another story...

I continued on Sax into college and played int he college jazz band. A few years earlier, I had taken up the guitar, and on a whim, I just showed up to Jazz Band practice with my guitar! I didn't have any music, so I annoyed the piano player by looking over his shoulder, and by the end of the rehearsal they said, "Yeah, you can be our guitar player."

I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the Berklee College of Music and study there with John Finn and play at the performance center. My life was music - go to class, practice about 10 hrs a day, then go work in recording studios at night. A shoestring budget is putting it mildly - I remember going into Dunkin' Donuts, and walking out empty handed because I was nervous that I would not have enough money for guitar strings!

I think it may be the saxophone/ guitar connection that really defines my playing. I am drawn to strong melodic themes, probably from my days as a sax player. I also find it quite interesting that the reviewer of our last album from "All About Jazz" said that I reminded him of Grant Green - a player who was hugely influenced by sax players! 

I am not particularly interested in playing the flashiest runs, or showing what I can do on the guitar. I am, however, very interested in playing a part that fits well with the song and conveys emotion; whether it's technically difficult or easy to play for me is not relevant. It's the song that matters. Some parts may sound easy (but be difficult) and vice versa, but as long as it sounds good, I'm good.

The other piece of the puzzle that makes it good is when you are entertained. Truth be told, performers really need the audience.  As an artist, I write songs that I like to hear, and that I would buy myself. I refine and record them, then put them out there on CD or via a performance. When the listener enjoys and interprets the piece and gives us feedback, then the circle is complete. You are the necessary piece to make this endeavor whole, and for that I am forever grateful.

 

Thanks for listening,

 

Erik

 

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