By Chuck Anderson
My musical journey started at the age of 14. I began with guitar lessons at a local music store. From there, I ultimately did the bulk of my jazz guitar studies with Dennis Sandole from Philadelphia. Dennis was known for working with John Coltrane, Art Farmer, Jim Hall, Pat Martino, Benny Golson etc.
From age 16, my interest turned very quickly from rock to jazz. Wes Montgomery was my greatest influence. His influence was enhanced when I met him at Pep’s Musical Bar in Philadelphia.
My work has always been in music . I have never had a “job” of any type that did not involve music. When I turned 16, I began to teach guitar. Starting with some young students in their homes, I quickly built a practice that required a studio. After a short time with a small local music store, I began teaching for Medley Music in Ardmore, PA. This was the largest music store around. It was a music superstore before there were music superstores.
In my early 20’s, I became the director of the Medley Music school which was affiliated with the retail side of Medley Music. By the age of 28, I had decided to open my own music school. I located a building in Berwyn, Pa and began. We taught private lessons and also had group theory and ear training classes. The school had 12 teachers and over 400 students.
As the school grew, I found myself overly occupied with marketing, book keeping and general administrative work. Sine I didn’t get into music to do that type of work, I closed the school and built a private teaching studio in Conshohocken, PA. To this day, I still teach there as my main base of operations. I have also expanded my teaching into online programs so that I can help anyone around the world.
From the beginning, I played out as much as I could. Simple rock music gave way to more complex forms of music until I finally settled on the jazz guitar style as my direction. Jazz was not the easiest form of music to make a living, so I played all types of music. My first major break came when I had the opportunity to play the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, NJ. This showcased world class entertainment from Ella Fitzgerald to Peggy Lee to Bobby Darin etc. I became staff guitar and worked 4 seasons there. We did 14 shows a week with a Monday afternoon rehearsal.
After 4 years of reading charts, I decided it was time to get more formally into jazz. I formed the original Chuck Anderson Trio with Al Stauffer on bass and Ray Deeley on drums. At this point, I began to write jazz material for concerts and recordings. We recorded our first album “Mirror Within a Mirror” in 1975. The trio gave concerts extensively in the tristate areas of PA, NJ and DE. After 4 years of work with the trio, I began to develop a solo guitar repertoire based on classical music. This produced the album “Kaleidophon : The Art of the Neo Classical Guitar”. Concerts and 2 more albums followed. The repertoire I developed included, transcriptions of famous classical works, original compositions and international folk themes which I then developed through improvisations.
I was then offered the guitar chair at the Valley Forge Music Fair. I spent the next 7 seasons there, again playing behind show business legends.
Finally, I reached the point where I just couldn’t do shows anymore. I returned to my favorite form, the jazz guitar. A new trio consisting of Eric Schreiber on bass and Ed Rick in drums was formed and we began recording and giving concerts. This group is still together today. To date, we have recorded 3 albums “Freefall”, “Nighthawk” and “Angel Blue”.
Somewhere in there, I developed a music production company specializing in the creation of media music for TV, Radio and Film. I maintained that involvement for 20 years developing a large roster of clients including ABC, CBS and NBC etc.
At this point, I am entirely focused on the jazz guitar performance and education. I have written 24 books on music and jazz guitar. I’m getting back into performance after a serious illness stopped me from playing and teaching for over 6 months. My first return concert is May 10th, 2019.
My entire journey in music has had one particular constant which is my dedication to teaching. I had no interest in teaching in a school system. My teaching focuses on the individual who comes to my studio. It’s my job to diagnose problems. They could be technical, theoretical, musical etc. We then chart the process by which we solve these problems always keeping the unique individual in mind. It is clear that students learn in different ways. I have to find the best pathway to reach a student and help him or her achieve his or her goals. In order to maintain my priority in teaching, I had an important decision to make. To be widely recognized as a player, I would have to travel extensively. Virtually, no one city can support a career in jazz guitar. The problem was simply that road travel, especially extensive road travel, would make teaching impossible. I have always felt an enormous responsibility to my students. That responsibility can’t be met if I were traveling all the time. I have never regretted this decision but there has been a price. My public reputation as a jazz guitar player has not developed as it could have had I been willing to travel.
I always enjoy giving master classes. I think the primary benefit of a master class is to bring a group of guitar enthusiasts together to interact and to learn. There is so little time in a master class setting that many guitarists use it as a way to meet people and find a way to further their understanding and playing. This often takes the form of seeking jazz guitar teachers who can help them achieve their goals.
My teaching has led me into the research of techniques and principles that prove helpful to aspiring jazz guitarists. This research has led me to write and have 24 books published on music and on the jazz guitar style.
I continue to research and develop efficient ways to play the instrument and to convey that information to others.
My goals are to continue giving concerts, teaching, writing more books and utilizing the power of the internet to spread the word of the jazz guitar.
“Uniting the World through the Jazz Guitar”
Chuck Anderson – Jazz Guitar
Learn more about Chuck’s long career in the music business in his autobiography
My Life in Music