Sunday, January 31, 2010

Final Blog

Today's blog will be the last blog here but not the last blog. My blogging activities have moved to my new URL

Join me there for all kinds of new activity. Join my Fan Page and I'll keep you up to date with CDs, DVDs, Concerts, Workshops, Master Classes and my new Skype teaching.

See you over there!

Chuck Anderson
Jazz Guitarist

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Freefall" the new CD by the Chuck Anderson Trio - an interview

by Leah Garnett of

1. What makes this album different from anything you've done previously.

This album represents the culmination of a long journey. "The Vintage Tracks" represented me as a young, over the top jazz guitarist - lots of brash firepower. The next CD "Angel Blue" showed me more as a composer. It represented a more mature writer and player. After my long absence from the jazz guitar concert world, "Freefall" is an amalgam of young energy and passion as well as mature writing. It's my favorite CD of the three.
2. Did you write all of the tunes or are there any covers?

All 12 songs are original. Two are solo tracks and ten are in the trio format.
3. What is different about your playing at age 62 than say at age 32?

With the return of my health, I'm now playing younger and more original than I played at age 32.
4. You stopped performing for many years. What inspired you to return to performance?

I had been suffering, unknowingly, from severe obstructive sleep apnea for many years. It drained my energy, stopped my metabolism and caused me to gain an enormous amount of weight. I barely had the energy to teach. When the cause of my problem was discovered, I began sleep therapy with a CPAP machine. With the return of deep sleep, I was able to moderate my eating and begin an exercise regiment. The results of these changes has been a weight loss of 110 pounds. With this renewed energy, I felt that passion and drive that I remember feeling when I was 24 years old.
5. You prefer to play in concert settings over clubs. Talk about why these are better venues not just for the musicians but for listeners?

Clubs have many distractions that don't serve an audience or the performers well. The wait staff, the bartenders and the fact that so many people are not there to hear the music distracts the performers and those who have come to hear the music. A concert setting is exclusively intended to listen to music. This is a benefit to the performers and to the audience.
6. You call your music "audience friendly, progressive jazz guitar." This album truly fits this bill. I think it will have tremendous appeal to rock and blues guitar lovers. What about your music is 'audience friendly'?

I think that it's important to consider the audience when you perform jazz. This is not a compromise but a balanced perspective concerning volume, repertoire, variety and communication. The jazz world has developed a reputation for unfriendly and distant performers. The audience is the only thing that allows us to do what we do.

 7. What type of guitar are you playing on the album?

A custom Gibson L5. The "Green Hornet"
8. Talk about the bass player and drummer. They both sound great. What are their backgrounds?

On Bass, we have Eric Schreiber. Eric is relatively new to the jazz world but has excellent training, listens well and works interactively and creatively with the trio. Ed Rick on drums brings a wide variety of experience to the band. His percussive work is solid and inspiring.
9. Although you're a jazz guitar player, most of your students do not study jazz guitar. Is that correct? What else do you teach and play?

My students have a wide variety of interests and directions. I teach to the unique strengths of each student. I deal formally with guitar, bass, piano and songwriting. Music business is another frequent topic of discussion in the lessons. I teach privately as I believe in the power of one on one interaction.
10. Do you teach part time or full time?

Very full time!
10. Do you think that your music is 'audience friendly' because you play and have played other styles?

No. It has more to do with the programming of the material and the spontaneity of the perforrmance. I am not a fusion player.
11. What does this album mean for you personally and what do you hope it means for jazz guitar overall?

For me, it's a return, a rebirth. I hope that it will draw people all over the world to the jazz guitar.
12. What type of venue is the CD release party and when is it?

The CD release party will be held at The New Hope Winery on Saturday, January 16th at 8:00 PM.

The New Hope Winery is located at:
6123 Lower York Road
Bucks County, PA 18938

For concert reservations, call 215 794 2331

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

Thoughts and Observations

My first observation was more of a feeling than a thought. The words coming from the pages evoked a feeling of familiarity - not the words themselves but the feelings that came out of the words. The visceral sense of loneliness when you're conceiving of and pursuing a creative idea which is neither understood nor accepted by the outside world. The sense of unfairness that we all feel when our careers don't go as far as fast as we would like. The inequity that we often feel when we compare where we are to where others are. It's clear that the feelings, emotions and attitudes surrounding creativity are universal and applicable to many people and situations.

The book is a concise and powerful presentation of deep concepts embedded in the struggle for the development of human potential in the creative world. It also links together creativity and worldly success and makes them seem possibly attainable and not entirely contradictory.

The following thoughts were helpful to me as a musician expanding my career and accepting some realities of life and commerce. Each point is followed by my own personal thoughts.

The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you. Follow a strong gut feeling.

I have always sought advise from people on ideas and have always been surprised at what little solid suggestions I've received. Not that people haven't been encouraging but it's become increasingly clear that they don't really understand where I'm going. I don't know why I expect them too. After all, I'm the one who has lived with these concepts and directions my whole life. I am currently in the process of revamping my entire career with the help of people like Eric Hebert from Evolvor Media. I initially resist change and have had to rely on gut instinct to overcome my natural inertia.

The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.

I found this to be the most important concept in the book. I confess that I had never thought of it in this light. I know that my dedication to what I do has, in reality, been as important of a factor in my success as the content itself. I can more or less prove that to myself by observing my success in a wide variety of music related activities. As soon as I aimed enthusiasm and passion at a musical activity, it succeeded.

The importance of time, effort and stamina in achieving a worthwhile goal

This has never been an issue for me. I've always been a hard worker and have always understood the relationship between time, effort, stamina and achievement.

Nobody suddenly discovers anything - the myth of the overnight success.

I found that it has taken a long time to focus and concentrate on one specific, fulfilling aspect of my work. This focus is leading me in a better and more productive direction. My own career has been filled with multiple activities - all in the same music business but sufficiently scattered to prevent long term growth.

The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.

If you do what everybody does, the path is crowded. If you totally focus on your actual goals, the path is at least less cluttered. This, however, leads to loneliness. If you can accept the feeling, you can deal with it successfully.

Keep using your box of crayons. You never outgrow the need for creative expression. Don't let your "adult" voice squash your "wee" voice.

I don't remember being a child but I'm sure that I was. I know that I am conservative by nature but a risk taker on another level. Accepting my own creativity has become more comfortable as I have matured in both age and artistry.

Make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow line.

I am currently making that serious attempt though I have been a music professional my entire life.

Talent doesn't require props or pillars.

I've always felt that my work in music didn't need much praise but that never prevented it from being enormously fulfilling.

Your plan for getting your work out there has to be as original as the actual work, perhaps more so. This would be a tribute to planning, niche marketing and follow through in areas that are not necessarily your strength or even your interest.

Being born into a generation of non computer users, it's always been a puzzle as to how I could get my work "out there". The "new music industry" seems to be offering a model by which I can get my work out to Japan to Europe to India and beyond. Though I entered this phase of my career kicking and screaming, I am now embracing it fully.

Learn to draw the "red line" that separates what you are willing to do from what you are not willing to do.

The biggest challenge for me was the decision as to what not to do. I could always do a great variety of musical work but only now am I drawing the all important "red line".

Adapt to the changing world and don't fight it in an effort to protect the world you knew and felt safe in.

This spells "Internet" and all of its ramifications.

Sing in your own voice.

I have been fortunate to be called "the most distinctive voice in jazz guitar". I have never tried to emulate any other players and I think that it's served me well.

Diluting your product to make it more "commercial" will just make people like it less.

When I finally decided to embrace what I did as "art", the commercial dilemma faded away.

Nobody cares. Do it yourself.

I'm saddened by the fact that "nobody cares" but somehow this encourages me to not wait and hope which I spent too much of my life doing.

Worrying about "commercial" versus "artistic" is a waste of time.

This is one of many wastes of time but an important one to remember. As Bill Evans, my favorite jazz pianist said "In the long run, we must accept what we do as art. We must play what pleases us. Don't chase players, don't chase styles and don't chase audiences. Play what you love to play and then go find the people who love what you love"

Write from the heart.

This is perhaps a key to life as well as a key to unleashing personal creativity.

Don't need approval, don't be desperate. You already have the power. You don't need to get it from anyone.

Dealing with the decision makers in music is enough to shake anyone's confidence. I try to find that place that presents simply and clearly who I am and what I do. I leave the rest of up to hard work and endurance.

Value the power of the internet and its role in the future.

As Michael Sembello (writer of Maniac from the film "Flashdance") said to me "Rome has finally fallen and we once again have control thanks to the internet."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Art of the Jazz Guitar

Since the age of 16, I've been fascinated by the Jazz Guitar. I can't tell you why ... why I didn't want to be a Rock star or the Lead guitar player in a famous Rock, Blues or Country band.

The fame held no appeal to me nor did the promise of money. My interest seemed to be in something less tangible but more important. I eventually began to understand what aesthetics were and why creating art was central to my own identity.

My first influence was Wes Montgomery. I saw him perform at Pep's Musical Bar on North Broad street in Philadelphia when I was a teenager. Not only did I watch and listen to him but I also had the opportunity to meet him. I can say with a measure of pride and distinction that Wes himself taught me his famous octave technique. He also encouraged me to study guitar and music. He said "Don't do what I did. I couldn't find a teacher in those days. I had to "teach" my self." I think his words were significant in my determination to study the guitar and ultimately to teach it.

As I began to develop on the guitar, I began to consider music as a career. At the age of 19, I began studying with Dennis Sandole. Dennis was an enormously influential teacher in Philadelphia whose students included John Coltrane, James Moody, Pat Martino and many others. What Dennis taught was the aesthetics of music. By looking at his students, it was clear that he was more than a guitar teacher. But Dennis was a jazz guitarist and certainly had special insights into the instrument. He encouraged me to pursue music as an art form but not as a commercial form. That created both a sense of confidence and simultaneously, a sense of confusion in me.

By the time I graduated from college, I had established the beginnings of a reputation as both a player and a teacher. At the age of 21, my first major break came from an opportunity to become staff guitarist at the famed Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. See a You Tube video on the ChuckAndersonGuitar channel called "The Latin Casino Story".

The Latin was the East Coast's version of Vegas but without the gambling. It was here that Sammy Davis Jr, Bobby Darin, Billy Eckstine, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and a host of other show business luminaries performed on a nightly basis. We played 14 shows a week and rehearsed the next show on Monday afternoon. It was grueling schedule but I loved it. The need to make money to support a family was essential. I felt a sense of conflict between doing this prestigious but clearly commercial work and the advice that Dennis had given me. Vivid in my memory was him asking me why I was wasting my time playing "commercial soirees when I should be giving concerts for the Kings and Queens of Europe?" That and his well known disdain for "touching" money sent me into a state about the contradictions between making money and pursuing art for its own sake. Necessity won since I had a family to support.

After four years at the Latin, I decided to leave and form my own jazz trio. The Chuck Anderson Trio was anchored by Al Stauffer, the legendary upright bass player. Al, I and Ray Deeley formed the group, recorded our first album "Mirror within a Mirror" and began giving concerts. Throughout the Trios' life, Jimmy Paxson and Darryl Brown also contributed outstanding drum and percussion work. During this period, I began writing concert jazz. I still perform many of these pieces today. All of our recorded output has been captured on a compilation CD called The Vintage Tracks. Last year, I had the entire recording re - mastered by Allan Tucker of TuckerSound in New York (formerly Foothill Digital). It's now available at under CDs and DVDs.

It's now 2009 and I've focused my attention on my first love, the Jazz Guitar. What is it about this art form that captures me? In the first place, I dislike lyrics. I love abstraction in painting, in sculpture and in music. Instrumental music speaks to me in a unique way. Vocal music has never spoken to me. I think I enjoy my own story coming from the inspiration of instrumental music. To me, interpretation of mood, attitude and feel are what I enjoy in music.

Improvisation, the cornerstone of jazz, springs from life itself. It seems to represent the way we try to live - spontaneous and free. Of course, there is structure. There can be no freedom without structure. But within that freedom is the place in which we live and grow.

The earliest stages of musical development involve simple structures. As we grow, we seek advancement and growth in our pursuits. Jazz Guitar to me offers unlimited potential to grow. It can be technical, creative, spiritual, emotional, aural and includes any measure by which you might monitor growth in an individual.

The unlimited palette of colors available at the harmonic, melodic, structural and rhythmic levels offers endless fascination to me in the pursuit of my own horizon.

Chuck Anderson
Jazz Guitarist

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino

I recently wrote this in Pat Martino's guest book after hearing an interview that he did about his experience with Wes Montgomery.

I listened recently to your interview about your experience with Wes Montgomery, It was strangely similar to mine. It took place when I was 16 and it was also at Pep's Bar. After a set, Wes came to my table and said "Hi! I'm Wes Montgomery. I understand that you play guitar. Do you have any questions?" I asked about his octaves. At the time, I thought he pinched the 2 notes. He laughed and corrected that wrong impression. He then went to the bandstand and brought his guitar over to me. He handed me the guitar and showed me how to play octaves.I was thrilled and still have his picture in my studio. At that time, he had just released Boss Guitar, a vinyl LP. He asked if I had any requests. I was so flustered that I asked for "Pied Fries" which of course was actually "Fried Pies". When he played the song in the next set, he announced the song as "Pied Fries" Just thought I would share that memory with you.

Coreen and I send our love to you and Aya.

Chuck Anderson

Chuck Anderson

Lafayette Hill, PA USA - Saturday, April 25, 2009 at 23:49:48 (EDT)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Jazz Guitar Solos

Today's blog will be very brief but important.

Jazz guitarists are, like many other guitar players, obsessed with speed. Although speed is a good measurement of how much you've practiced, it's not a good measurement of how musical you are.

Today's advice is simple. Remember that whole notes , half notes, dotted half notes and quarter notes are not only permitted in guitar solos but are actually desirable.

Rhythmic variety is an important tool in making a guitar solo interesting.

To organize the topic of rhythm, visit or check out my site at

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jazz and Promotion

This is a copy of an E mail that I sent to Ben Ratliff, jazz critic for The New York Times It's in response to a question concerning the market for jazz.


I am a veteran jazz guitarist, born in Chicago but based in suburban Philadelphia.

I appreciate how you handle sensitive topics related to the Art of Jazz.

Being in this business for a long time as a musician, educator, author and lecturer, I have a somewhat different take on the subject of jazz musicians and audiences. Though it's easy to blame the media and they deserve some of the blame, I think the biggest problem lies squarely on the shoulders of jazz musicians and the jazz community.

This community has never promoted or marketed their art and craft at the level or with the same intensity as other musical idioms. This is not to comment one way or another on the musical significance of jazz versus rock - country vs pop etc.

As an example, country music has an enormously popular and important tradition called Fan Day. This is basically a big convention for the fans to meet, up close and personal, their country music idols. Autographs are given, merchandise is sold, pictures are taken. I have never seen a country artist resist this tradition or complain about it. They recognize that without the fans, they would have no career.

Country music plays to the fans and seems to show a genuine interest in them. I understand the differences between country and jazz but jazz still must be marketed with consistency and enthusiasm. The musicians have to do their part in promoting and marketing their art and craft. I am talking about traditional forms of jazz not "smooth jazz".

Jazz shares many of the same issues with classical music. There is too often a distance and certain type of elitism that prevents audiences from getting "close".

I hold out great hope for the future because of the "new" music business - the "cyber marketing" and all the tools that are available to jazz musicians across the world.

Chuck Anderson
"Audience Friendly, Progressive Jazz Guitar"

If interested, I'd love to send you copies of two of my CDs as well as one of my books. It deals with the subject of development within the music business, the individual and within the artistic community. The book is titled "Music Pursuing the Horizon"
Chuck Anderson