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Exploring the Legacy of Ted Greene: The Transcription Project



Guitarist and producer John March inspires and informs those who are curious about the endless possibilities of working with Ted Greene’s arrangements.

Photo credit above: Bob Barry/Jazzography

In the realm of jazz guitar, Ted Greene is a name that resonates with profound respect and admiration. Not just for his skills and deep knowledge of music and the instrument, but also for his kindness and generosity of spirit. Ted was more than a mentor to me—he was a pivotal figure in my life and career. From our first meeting when I was just thirteen until well into my forties, his guidance was a gift that profoundly shaped my musical journey. His untimely passing left a deep hole in my musical universe and I miss his presence in my life and the gift of friendship and mentorship that he gave to me for so long. Having been a dedicated student of Ted’s approaches and methodologies for nearly five decades, I have been fortunate to immerse myself in his educational materials, and to some small extent, I have integrated a small portion of his vast knowledge into my own playing. I am not a solo Jazz Guitarist per se. I am a working musician and producer/mixer with a deep love of Harmony and the Guitar. Over the years, I’ve tried to share a few insights into Ted’s unique teaching methods and his approach to guitar arrangements through a few articles here in Jazz Guitar Today.

Ted Greene’s arrangements, in my opinion, are not just musical pieces; they are profound studies in harmony, melody, and innovative ways to approach the utilization of those ideas on Guitar.

My engagement with these arrangements extended into a personal project—a series of tribute CDs that not only try to honor Ted’s legacy but also explore improvisational and interpretative possibilities within his arrangements. I believe it’s really important to help in any way that I can to keep Ted’s works vital and accessible in the world. I have tried to help through these recordings and through workshops and articles because I believe that it’s important to support and maintain the information that Ted was putting out into the world. I, like many of the older students who spent time with Ted, have tremendous love and respect for who he was and what he offered, and if there’s anything I can do to support those ideas in the world I will do it.

Guitarist and producer John March in the studio.

Feedback from the community about my recordings and efforts have been really positive, highlighting an appreciation for a direct approach to Ted’s works and sparking curiosity among younger guitarists eager to dive into his teachings. A common inquiry from readers has been about the process of infusing improvisation into these structured arrangements. This process for me involved numerous recording sessions and failed attempts, and even consultations with Barbara Franklin who provided invaluable support and encouragement during the recording process and after.

About 6 or 7 months ago I had the realization that one really clear way that I could demonstrate incorporating improvisation and different approaches to Ted’s arrangements was to Transcribe my ideas and show how I had done what I had played and recorded. I decided that I would transcribe five of my performances/interpretations as a way of showing one approach to playing them. Similar to how classical musicians look at written transcriptions of different performance versions of a piece. It was a long and iterative process. The technical challenge of transcribing solo guitar arrangements is large, given the complex interplay of voices on the guitar. It took rigorous and diligent effort and collaboration with talented transcribers, (including the remarkable UK-based transcriber Lef Germenlis), to produce transcriptions that are not only accurate as notation, but also accessible for guitar players who may be more familiar with working with tabs.

Above is the transcription of John’s recording of “Over the Rainbow”. If you are interested in exploring the other 4 transcriptions, please visit access all five transcriptions.

Originally upon releasing the tribute CD, I chose to make it available for free listening on Bandcamp, with an option for purchase. I committed to donating a portion of the proceeds from sales to charitable organizations in Ted’s memory, including Musicares and others dedicated to supporting musicians and music education.

This transcription project for me isn’t just about preserving Ted’s arrangements; it’s an invitation to others to explore and possibly extend his musical ideas. I priced the transcriptions accessibly, ensuring that enthusiasts at all levels could engage with this material. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from this project will continue to support, furthering the mission of keeping Ted’s invaluable teachings alive. With these transcriptions I hope to pass on some of that incredible gift to others, inspiring them to delve deeper into the art of solo guitar and the educational and creative treasure trove that Ted left behind.

For those interested in exploring these transcriptions please, visit the following link to access all five transcriptions.

I send them out into the world in hope that they help to inspire in some small way and inform those who are curious about the endless possibilities of working with Ted’s arrangements.

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