What's Hot with Jazz Guitar: Tribute to Ted Greene

by Doc Dosco
http://www.docdosco.com

Jazz guitar legend Ted Greene passed away this week. It was an unexpected
shock as he seemed in fine health. It is an enormous loss for the guitar
playing world and saddens me greatly.

I am reprinting a review from last November that I did on Ted for Just
Jazz Guitar Magazine. In addition, some friends have put up a tribute
website which I link to at the bottom of the article.

Ted Greene at Spazio's in LA (from Just jazz Guitar)

I had a chance catch Ted Greene appearing at Spazio's in Sherman Oaks,
California on Thanksgiving afternoon. Spazio's is the Los Angeles area's
premiere jazz supper club and has top jazz artists appearing there seven
nights a week.

Ted played nonstop from 1 PM to 4 PM, tune after tune without even
stopping in between songs. (you get good value for your dollar when you
hire Ted Greene). Of course, Ted can afford to play non-stop, as he has
quite an extensive repertoire. I took a peek over at his song list and
it was longer than your average fake book. He effortlessly breezed
through dozens and dozens of melodies in the time I was there,
harmonizing them brilliantly as he went along.

For those who don't know Ted personally, he is a quiet, unassuming guy
that always has a kind and supportive word for his fellow musicians. A
veritable a fountain of knowledge, he is one of the most accessible
people around, and this can be rare in one so talented. Ted may not be a
glitzy performer, but he says all he needs to say through his music. He
is a true player's player.

The audience at Spazio's was broken into two into distinct categories,
those munching away on Thanksgiving turkey with family and friends, and
those sitting up close around the stage listening intently. Ted always
commands a loyal following for his performances, and this day was no
different.

Ted Greene has a rich variety of tunes for a solo guitar. He played pop
classics such as On Broadway, Unchain My Heart and Up On The Roof,
standards such as Time After Time, My Funny Valentine, Skylark and Blue
Moon, and a medley of show tunes from West Side Story. He played couple
of great old twenties era tunes with an implied stride piano feel and
then performed a truly wonderful rendition of the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby
followed by Ticket To Ride. A prodigious and unusual collection in many
respects, and quite impressive overall.

Ted Greene never ceases to amaze. The following personal anecdote should
testify to this because I have seen and heard 'up close and personal'
just how deep and intuitive his harmonic knowledge is.

Some years back I visited Ted for help in a certain area of chord/melody
playing, much of which I learned by rote. I went through the tune 'My
Romance' for Ted. My arrangement of it was pretty, but the limits of my
approach were glaring when Ted took over. He played it in the standard
key with his lush trademark harmonizations. Then without blinking he
moved it down a fourth and played it again. He re-harmonized the tune
several different ways on the spot transposing to new keys while always
retaining command of the melody and the flow of changes each and every
time.

By changing the style this one tune became a little history of jazz for
me. From a ballad it became ragtime, then became a 30's jazz swing, then
a straight ahead style with a walking line underneath, and then he even
took it outside and harmonized the changes with lots of extensions and
altered chords. All this without missing a beat... pulling the changes,
bass lines and the melody out of thin air, flawlessly, keeping each
style authentic and consistent while at the same time interweaving that
wonderful chord harmonization that he is so well known for.

No, I didn't go right home and shoot myself (it was close though). In
actual fact, it allowed me to see first hand the rich harmonic and
stylistic variations that are possible for jazz guitar and gave me a
direction and a goal to work towards.

Recently, Ted has re-mastered and re-released his Solo Jazz Guitar album
from 1977 on Art Of Life Records. He is well know for his books, "Chord
Chemistry", "Modern Chord Progressions", "Jazz Guitar Single Note
Soloing, Volume 1 & 2", and for the seminars and performances that he
gives in and around Los Angeles. However there are not that many
recordings of Ted. Therefore, I am happy that some of Ted's classic
guitar work is available once again.

Ted Greene takes the art of guitar to another level altogether. No
wasted energy, no wasted notes, a true innovator. So, I knew just what
to expect when I walked in to hear Ted that afternoon at Spazio's. I
heard a master at work.

New Ted Greene tribute site:
http://tedgreene.blogspot.com/

Watch for www.tedgreene.com (coming soon) as the permanent home of for
the Ted Greene tribute site.

Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com , where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot with Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc endorse Heritage Guitars and is a featured artist on their website. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps -- great for jazz (and anything else!)

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