Chuck Anderson: Philadelphia Ace
AAJ: Tell me about the trio you formed in the 1970s.
CA: After four years of reading, I wanted to stretch out with my own group. I began writing, and formed the Chuck Anderson Trio in 1973. The group featured Al Stauffer on bass and Ray Deeley on drums. Jimmy Paxson and Darryl Brown also drummed for the trio. We recorded Mirror Within a Mirror in the mid 1970s. This album later became a CD, recently remastered by Alan Tucker, called The Vintage Tracks. We did jazz concert work and featured originals with new versions of jazz classics.
AAJ: I believe you pioneered the neo classical guitar; what is this?
CA: The term neo classical guitar has been used in many different contexts, To some, it is a metal style of lead guitar that uses scales like the harmonic and melodic minor scales as well as diminished 7th arpeggios. The stress is on speed.
The neo classical guitar is a solo pick style using the amplified or acoustic guitar to play classical transcriptions, original works, and variations on international folk themes. During the eight years that I worked within this style, I was endorsed by the Gibson Guitar company and called "the new Segovia" by PBS. I released a CD called Kaleidophon: The Art of the Neo Classical Guitar.
I have mastered two more neo classical CDs called Virtuosity and Timeless that I hope to release soon.
AAJ: Tell me about some of the recordings and books you've done.
CA: My jazz recordings are The Vintage Tracks and Angel BlueA Tour of Jazz. With my extensive writing background, I have also recorded the following CDs: The International Collection; Passages from the End of Autumn; Music from the Light; Christmas Wishes; Kaleidophon: The Art of the Neo Classical Guitar; and Lullabies for Parents. I have spent a huge amount of time developing educational concepts for jazz guitarists. Some of my books are: The Six Secrets of Guitar Fingering; The Pathways of Guitar; Music Pursuing The Horizon; Mastering the Modes; Modular Phonetic Rhythm, The Foundation and Workbook 1; The Private Music Teacher's Guide Volume ILead sheets to Chuck Anderson's Tour of Jazz CD; and Unlocking the GuitarNotes of the Neck.
AAJ: What's in the future in terms of recordings, books and performances?
CA: I am getting ready to record a new CD called From the Heart, featuring my trio and twelve new compositions. The DVD, called The Chuck Anderson TrioLive!, will be released soon. I have many new books under development. Master Picking, Bebop for Guitar Players, Harmonic Analysis for Jazz Improvisation, and The Evolution of Blues are some of the new titles. I will focus my attention on concert venues, colleges and jazz festivals. I am also working with Mike's Master Classes on a new master class called "Navigating the Guitar." I have an extensive schedule of lectures, master classes, private teaching, consulting and clinics. I was a guest on Bob Miles' show Miles of Music, in May of this year .
AAJ: What's your current setup in terms of guitar/amp, etc.
CA: I use a custom Gibson L5 guitar with an Acoustic Image Clarus II, Series III amp and two Raezer's Edge Stealth 12 cabinets.
AAJ: Tell me about your role as an educator and lecturer.
CA: I began teaching at the age of sixteen and have taught extensively and continuously for the past 45 years. I owned my own private music school for many years. I currently focus on my private students. Over and above teaching, I lecture for The American Institute for History Education. I discuss the role of music in society during five periods of American history. I also lecture on jazz guitar, improvisation, composition and the music business.
AAJ: What's the story behind the theft of your Gibson L5 and not playing for a long time. What got you back into playing again? Did you teach during those years?
CA: My original Gibson L5 was stolen after a concert. The loss was so devastating to me that I couldn't play concerts for a very long time. One of America's greatest luthiers, Eric Schulte, offered to customize an L5 for me if I would agree to go back and give concerts again. I agreed and he produced the customized green L5 that I play today. Jack Romano also worked on the final version of the instrument.
I never stopped teaching. It's not unusual for me to teach sixteen hours in a day.
AAJ: How do you approach teaching jazz? What methods do you use in teaching the guitar?
CA: My approach to teaching jazz is holistic. I break the material down into musical and mechanical technique, chord voicings, voice leading, comping, fingering principles, rhythm, melody and chords, improvisation, theory, ear training and repertoire.
I stress the development of the unique personality of each student. I never focus on my own style as a player. I play very rarely during a lesson, preferring to maximize the student's time on his or her own development. The methods I use are my own.
AAJ: Any of the newer players you enjoy listening to?
CA: I have never listened extensively to any specific players, nor have I ever worked out solos or riffs associated with any particular player.