Thursday, August 27, 2009

Howard Roberts

Well I didn't do so great on my diet today, I need a mulligan. I had a meeting today and the client chose a hamburger place to go to. I had small things but still none of it was really on my diet allowance, well ok, the bun wasn't and the meat wasn't....hahaha....but the tomato and onion was ok. So I'm going to take a break about talking about food for a bit and write about my other passion which is music.
When I was 20 I got it in my mind that I could be pretty good playing the guitar. I'd started a few years earlier, inspired by none other than Peter Frampton and then countless trips to Winterland with a high school friend, Bill Coutts, to see various rock acts of the day. I started taking lessons when I was 18 with a great guitarist named Robert Graves. Robert turned me on to Joe Pass and other jazz and fusion players and that was it, I was hooked. In 1978 I heard about this new school called the Guitar Institute of Technology. It had been started by this well known studio guitarist Howard Roberts and had some other well known jazz guys teaching theree. I applied, was accepted and went to GIT to study in September of 1979 embarking on one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Howard Roberts was not at the school every day, in fact he had moved to Seattle, Washington, but periodically he was down and when he was he would give a seminar and chat with students. I got to see what an amazing teacher this guy was and how accomplished he was on the guitar. His heydey was when i was a little kid in terms of albums and awareness amongst my age group. So being exposed to him as I was thru his columns in Guitar Player and at school were a revelation to me. Howard had theories about the psychology of learning and subscribed to Psycho-Cybernetics. He also believed that everyone had alot of music in them, they just had to get it out.
In this new digital world, most of his albums from the late 50's and 60's are available on cd and you can hear what an amazing player this guy was. Even the albums he put out later, The Real Howard Roberts, being the first one I had heard, like Equinox Express Elevator and Antelope Freeway, are now get-able via digital format. While the overall sounds are often dated due to the instrumentation used at the time, the guitar playing is still stellar and creative and chance taking.
I highly recommend you check Howard out. He left us in1992 a victim of prostate cancer, but his legacy lives on and it's a hell of a legacy.
The small school of 40 students that I attended in 1979 has now grown to a larger school that teaches most music disciplines and has a student body in the hundreds. Each year more people are exposed to Howard's theories and passions and even 17 years after his passing, the influence of his work still resonates and impacts many people.


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