Saturday, September 27, 2008

Angel Blue A Tour of Jazz Review

Angel Blue A Tour of Jazz

In the liner notes, Chuck Anderson mentions that this recording marks his return to Jazz after spending several years exploring the art of the Neo Classical Guitar. This album of original material begins with an easy swing tune, "Aqua Blue". Other selections include a bossa composition entitled
"Soft Breezes", a very pretty ballad, "Angel Blue", and a funky "Street Strut". His influences are Johnny Smith, Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell. Anderson has a nice tone and feel to his single note lines. The phrasing is relaxed, and flows through the chord changes effortlessly.

Along with Anderson's guitar, this group includes Ron Kerber on tenor and soprano sax, John Swana on trumpet, Dan Kleiman on piano, Gerald Veasley on bass, and Ronny Barrage on drums, percussion and wave drum. The band works very well together, giving each player the opportunity to highlight his solo skills. The rhythm section of Veasley and Barrage keeps things moving over their solid backing. "Angel Blue" is a quality effort by very good players.

Reviewed by : Vince Lewis
Just Jazz Guitar Magazine

Monday, September 22, 2008

Whatever Happened to the Music Business

By the music business, I don't mean the recording or the performing artists. My reference is to the business machinery that is supposed to drive the music industry.

Musicians and entertainers are not supposed to chase club managers around, negotiate contracts or even collect the money. They should be spending all their time developing and polishing their skills as performers. Yet, the majority of up and coming artists spend the majority of their time spinning their wheels in the frustrating search for work, for publicity, for recognition. Could this be one of the reasons that we have relatively few quality acts today? I think that this is a major contributing factor.

It's not that talent doesn't exist. It's not that the drive or the ambition of artists are lacking. It's not that people are not trying. It's that there has been a complete collapse of the internal business of music. Changes in the industry have certainly contributed to this problem. But the real problem seems to be a lack of interested, committed people to work in the industry.

A case in point is the agency business. A music agent is a person that pursues and hopefully, gets work for artists. For this effort, they receive a commission. At one time, this business had prohibitive expenses associated with it. Phone bills and the mailing expense of promo kits mounted up. But today, you can get unlimited phone calls across the country for $39.95 a month. EPKs (Electronic Press Kits) have eliminated the publicity pictures, the bio, the credits and the demos (CD or DVD). They have also eliminated the mailing expenses associated with these items.

So what does it take to enter the agency business? ... A phone and access to the internet! From there, select your artists in the genre that you want to pursue and begin.

What are the music business graduates doing when they graduate from college with their degrees? It's not obvious to me!

Without agent Sol Hurok, Andres Segovia probably wouldn't have had a career. There are many examples in music history, where agents have been responsible for the development and prosperity of an artist's career!

Derek Siver, founder of CD Baby has recognized this need and is beginning a business called MuckWork. I am 100% behind Derek and his new business endeavors.

Check Derek's new endeavors at

Friday, September 12, 2008

Today's Music

I think that the state of today's contemporary Pop/Rock/Indie music has reached an all time low. Most groups that I see on TV can't move, sing, write or play. Their personalities could be described as cardboard but that would be an insult to cardboard.

Why they are in music at all is a mystery to me. My only guess is that it beats working for minimum wage.

It's obvious that they don't study or practice or do anything other than exercise their egos in front of the public. The fact that they have audiences is either a tribute to their marketing skills or a general insult to the listening public.

There is a silver lining to this sad story. I once thought that there was a correlation between talent and success. Instead, I've replaced that theory with another theory - and it is generally optimistic! Don't worry about being good enough or having any talent. Don't worry whether or not you can recruit adoring fans. Anyone can find a niche for whatever they do. And with some effort, you can turn that niche into a fan base with income to follow.

Your conscience should be your only barometer and without any conscience the sky's the limit!

Monday, September 8, 2008


Progress is in direct proportion to the time spent on disciplined practice and creative performance. But a musician's growth is not determined by practice and playing alone. Life experience is an integral part of a musician's development. As an individual matures, the learning experience requires increasingly thoughtful decisions. The musician must learn to decide when practice is most important and when the value of other pursuits outweighs the value of specific practice. Many people do not achieve their goals because they use time unwisely. This is a most common source of frustration. But it often takes this frustration to enable the individual to see the necessity of making better decisions on his own priorities of time.

Practice should be approached as a means and not an end. Music should be a personal expression and not an endless series of exercises.

Music Pursuing the Horizon
by Chuck Anderson Available at

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Angel Blue Review Bob Miles

Angel Blue Review
Written for Jazz Improvisation Magazine by Bob Miles

Chuck Anderson is certainly no stranger to the Philadelphia music scene. In the seventies, Chuck's first release "Mirror Within a Mirror" was an extremely popular album that featured the late Al Stauffer on Bass and Ray Deeley on drums. Angel Blue is Chuck's second jazz release after so many years. Why the extended absence? Chuck explains it this way: "I left the jazz field in 1978 to explore the art of Neo Classical Guitar. It was during this period that I began to focus on composition and ultimately made my way back to jazz."

Chuck Anderson is an impressive guitar force with boundless chops and interesting, unpredictable ideas.

Angel Blue features an eclectic collection of jazz styles. Chuck has decided to take "A Tour of Jazz" rather than focus on one particular style. Having several Philadelphia "heavy weights" including Gerald Veasley on Bass and John Swana on Trumpet certainly propels this tour along the jazz topography.

All but the Eleanor Rigby Medley are Chuck's compositions. The opening selection, Aqua Blue, is a melodious piece which features guitar, trumpet, sax and piano trading solos. Chuck opens with a relaxed solo with a very warm tone. Later, Swana skillfully shows his aural talents by repeating the five end notes of Kleiman's piano solo to start his solo.

Soft Breezes is a Bossa Nova, which opens with Chuck comping on a nylon 6 string.
Solos are rhythmically charged between Chuck and Dan Kleiman on piano and are reminiscent of Stan Getz's solo with Chick Corea on the Windows album. As the song progresses, it starts to build momentum as Veasley solos on his electric bass. Soft Breezes then concludes nicely to an all out samba.

The title track, Angel Blue is a ballad where Swana plays the melody with a muted trumpet reminiscent of Miles "Kind of Blue". The sensitivity with which they handle this ballad is top shelf. Swana lights a few sparks while Chuck fans the sparks into flame.
Chuck uses a subtle touch while settling in behind the beat.

Pirouette enters with Chuck's free style blowing gradually building into a modal setting. His solos center on Veasley's repetitive bass note pattern. Chuck's use of open strings and fourths effectively sets a dark tonality for which he is well known.

The next stop along the Tour of Jazz is Chuck's jazz/funk composition "Street Strut". Street Strut is what you would expect of a seventies style fusion piece ala Stern or Brecker. His solo would have been better enhanced with distortion as the notes and feel are certainly there. Chuck is right at home with a funky style which I find hard to say for other guitarists who have his technical facility. The funk kicks into high gear with Kerber's solo. Of course, Veasley's incredible chops add the final punch.

Flying Free is a contemporary jazz piece suitable for the smooth jazz audience. Should Chuck decide to expand into the smooth jazz market, I am confident that he would become an instant success. Chuck does open up as the song fades.

Danielle is Chuck's second ballad. This is nicely shared between Chuck, Dan Kleiman on piano and Ron Kerber on tenor. The solos are slowly drawn, relaxed and hold a nice sense of calmness throughout. Again, Chuck reinstates his interesting lines with a warm, almost silky tonality.

VSQ makes a return from Chuck's first release, "Mirror Within a Mirror". This nicely features a quirky melody injected between solos. The energy is high with Ronnie Barrage adding a feverish drum solo. Chuck again draws upon that dark tonal quality combined with an extraordinary display of confidence in his solos.

Eleanor Rigby melody opens to a solo melody and chord style with Chuck using parallel fourths and contrary motion for much of the melody. Gerald Veasley again supports Chuck with a mega- chops solo. Veasley's frequent use of fifths during Chuck's solo is a nice touch.

Dance of the Algons is the final track and is free form featuring mostly Kerber, Anderson and Kleiman. Chuck's six note motif is often heard underlying the solos throughout.

Chuck's compositions are outstanding at both a harmonic and melodic level. They remain interesting throughout the entire CD. Chuck solos hold because of their sheer musicality.

Chuck Anderson does accomplish what he set out to accomplish. Each track nicely and authentically covers the various styles from Bossa Nova to Smooth Jazz and in - between. It's great to hear that Chuck has made his much anticipated return with such highly regarded players in this art form.

I recommend Angel Blue to jazz educators who want to introduce their students to the various forms of jazz. I also recommend Angel Blue to those who just want to have a great listening experience!

Friday, September 5, 2008

On Practice

Practice is that inevitable "dues-paying" time that everyone must invest to pursue music. In the self study approach, the most difficult aspect of practice is the organization of musical and technical principles. Too often the player works in circles not really progressing, not knowing what to practice. Becoming aware of this lack of progress, he begins searching for sources of information. Books, recordings and other musicians are primary sources. Though these approaches are sometimes helpful, they are not flexible enough to solve specific problems for specific students. An individual can form habits from misinformation that can be detrimental to his progress for years.

Studying with a qualified teacher solves the organizational problems and provides a type of security for the student. Having dealt with so many self taught players and their problems, I encourage any serious players to find a qualified and creative teacher to assist their development. Every player is comfortable with and responds to varying programs of study but most can be helped by the right teacher. I do not deny the difficulty of finding this teacher but the effort required is usually worth it.

Music Pursuing the Horizon
by Chuck Anderson Available at

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Teaching Career - Chuck Anderson

My private music teaching career began in 1963. I was sixteen years old and not at all sure about a career direction. Having studied the guitar since the age of fourteen, I was involved in music but certainly not committed to it. Chance rather than planning played a major role in what was to become a life long career and commitment. In the spring of 1963, I was practicing my guitar lesson in the kitchen of my family's home in suburban Philadelphia. A neighbor came over to show my mother an ad that she had read in a local newspaper. This ad was written by a woman who was looking for a guitar teacher to teach her twelve year old son. As there was a transportation problem in their family, they needed someone to come to the house.

I went to the phone and began calling the number. My mother asked what I was doing and objected because “I didn't know how to teach”. My response was “I know exactly how to teach”. With the conviction of my response, my mother let me make the call. Such was the booking of my very first student. Being sixteen and lacking a car, my mother drove me each week to teach. Not long after that, I developed some independence of transportation and began teaching other students in the same neighborhood. I continued through word of mouth to develop students in other neighborhoods. Sometimes this involved teaching multiple students in the same household and sometimes friends on the same block.

I also began to develop students that came to the family home. My studio was located in the recreation room and had a private entrance. For the next three years, I continued developing my schedule in these two ways. A small music store opened within ten minutes of my home and I applied for a teaching position. I taught in the afternoons and on Saturday. When the store went out of business, those students came to my home studio, representing a significant increase in my teaching schedule.

Music in general and teaching specifically began to absorb more and more time, forcing me into my first major decision. I had always been extremely active in sports. Now, teaching was interfering with after school sports practice and performing with a band was interfering with weekend games. I resolved the conflict by quitting sports in my senior year of high school. Though it was not a popular decision at school, it was the official launch point for my music career.

At age nineteen, my father was transferred to Texas. I was about lose my home teaching studio. Since I attended college in Philadelphia, I made the decision to stay in the area rather than relocating to Texas. I found the largest music store in the area and applied for a teaching position. Since I was bringing my own home students to study at this store, I was able to negotiate a higher percentage of the weekly teaching fee. For all students that the store scheduled for me, I was paid the lower and standard fee. I continued to build my teaching schedule up to ninety five students per week while attending college full time. Because I had three times as many students as any other teacher, I was offered the position of director of the music school which I accepted.

The retail store moved the school to a new location a block away. This facility was devoted exclusively to the music school. It was during this time that I began to develop the organizational skills needed to run a private music school. This included advertising, billing, developing policies and marketing. At age 27, I left the school and opened my own music school. Fortunately, all my students made the transition forming the initial basis for my new school. The school was located in a older two story building with stain glass windows and pocket doors. With the help of my father, we incorporated the school, furnished the building and had a parking lot built.

Ultimately, the school had twelve teachers, over 400 students and included workshops, seminars and group classes. We also opened a guitar and bass repair center in the basement. One of the back rooms was devoted to graphics which were used for promotional material and a brief look at the music education publishing business. The school also developed contracts with local schools and organizations which provided additional sources of revenue.

After five years, the school began to take so much administrative time, that I decided a change was needed. Taking four of the school’s teachers, I moved to a smaller facility in the same town. Instead of the traditional arrangement with the teachers, we developed a teaching co-op. Each teacher reserved his own studio for a specific number of teaching units per week. We determined the total number of teaching units available and developed a percentage of shared expenses for each teacher. In this situation, the teacher not the school collected the fees and paid their percentage of expenses. This proved to be an easier way to continue the school as it relieved me of the time required to schedule, bill and collect tuition. Because the overall expenses were so much lower, it proved to be more profitable for all concerned.

This co-op organization continued for the next three years. I had in those three years begun to develop a desire to be independent of organization in general. I began the construction of a custom built teaching studio and waiting room attached to my home. The studio’s construction required a variance from zoning ordinances and necessitated a twenty thousand dollar debt which was paid off in time. The studio long after being paid off continues to operate as the base for my private teaching.

Throughout all teaching transitions, I continued to give concerts, do recording sessions, play shows and pursue an active playing career.

Future plans include more private teaching, books, seminars, workshops, videos, performances, recordings and consultation.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Letting Go

Most musicians at one time or another have problems "letting go". Even if they have developed their understanding of music and their technique, "something" holds them back. This can often be traced to a simple though ultimately irrational fear. Fear of what? Maybe they're not as good as they think they are. Maybe they're not as good as their friends and relatives say they are. Maybe they don't stack up to the competition. Whatever the fear, it is certainly destructive. How many people who have the "right stuff" refuse to believe it and act upon it.

Music ultimately is not a competitive sport. It is a pathway of self expression. How many people have said "I get it", musically speaking. But the problem is that they don't "get" themselves.

Putting your self into the music as fully as possible starts to break this negative tendency. Not worrying about the reaction of others is an important step in developing the skill of "letting go".

Don't fear mistakes! Fear not taking chances!!!