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Jazz Guitar Today Talks To Jazz Guitarist Chuck Anderson

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JGT guest contributor Joe Barth interviews the Philadelphia based jazz guitarist and educator, Chuck Anderson.

JB:  How old were you when you started to play jazz guitar and what was most helpful in your personal development as a guitarist?

CA:  I began playing guitar at the age of 14. I turned in the jazz direction at age 16. My studies with Dennis Sandole at the age of 19.  Dennis also mentored John Coltrane, Michael Brecker, Pat Martino, Jim Hall as well as many other jazz greats.  Next would be my encounter with Wes Montgomery was most helpful in my personal development as a jazz guitarist.

JB:  What are three of the most influential jazz guitar albums and why?

CA:  First, Johnny Smith – Moonlight in Vermont.  Moonlight in Vermont was a showcase for Johnny Smith’s impeccable technique and his stylish melody and chord work.

Second, Wes Montgomery – The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery. The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery influenced jazz guitarists worldwide through his creativity, drive and blues-inflected jazz guitar style 

Third, Jim Hall particularly the Art Farmer-Jim Hall Quartet.  Art Farmer and Jim Hall Quartet showed the taste and sparseness of Jim Hall’s style and his wonderful ability to complement Art Farmer’s solo abilities.

JB:  What are some traps that guitar players get themselves into? 

CA:  Not learning the notes on the neck and being overly reliant on tab and other guitarist’s solos. Developing a unique personality is often sacrificed for copying others. 

JB:  What was the musical climate like for you as a guitarist in the Philadelphia area in the 1970s and 80s?

CA:  As a professional guitarist in the Philadelphia area at that time, I was a staff guitarist at The Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, NJ, and at the Valley Forge Music Fair in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. I was busy in many venues and styles of music during that period. I formed my first jazz concert trio with Al Stauffer on bass and Ray Deeley on drums in 1974.


JB:  What about your career today that you find rewarding?

CA:  I focus on two areas at this point in my career. 1) Teaching and creating educational materials for jazz guitarists. 2) Recording and performing original material in the jazz genre. 

JB:  Talk about what you refer to as the Neo-Classical Guitar?

CA:  The Neo-Classical Guitar was the development of concert material based on transcription, improvisation on international themes, and original composition. I spent 8 years in that pursuit including TV, radio, and live concerts. Three albums were recorded during this period.

 JB:  Tell us about the guitar that you use?

CA:  I use a customized Gibson L5 that was adapted for my use by the luthier Eric Schulte. The distinctive green color leads to the nickname “The Green Hornet”.

JB:  What amp do you use?

CA:  I use an Acoustic Image amp with two Razors Edge speakers placed on either side of the stage.

 JB:  What is your favorite performance ensemble, trio, or quartet?

CA:  A Trio with bass and drums has always been my favorite ensemble.

 JB:  Tell me about one of your CD albums?

CA:  The Vintage Tracks is a re-release of my first jazz trio album with the original Chuck Anderson Trio. This is one of my ten recordings in the jazz guitar field. I’m partial to The Vintage Tracks CD because it was the first album to feature my original writing and represented my leaving the commercial world to pursue the art of the jazz guitar.

 JB:  How has your playing changed over the years?

CA:  I have concentrated exclusively on the jazz guitar. Within the jazz guitar, my playing has expanded further into a more chromatic orientation and I have begun to concentrate exclusively on my original writing.

 JB:  What advice would you give to young jazz guitarists?

CA:  Find a great teacher and trust the teacher’s advice. Don’t neglect to become a fluent reader and take advantage of any opportunities to play with other musicians.


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