Like a lot of people, I've been thinking about Jeff Beck today and listening to his music from the Yardbirds to the present. The thing is, I've never stopped listening to his music. When I was first learning guitar as a 13 year old, my brother Peter introduced me to Blow By Blow, Wired, and There and Back, and I was hooked. I asked my guitar teacher Carlos Lopes to teach me Diamond Dust (my first foray into minMaj7 chords and 5/4 time) and I've had my own students learn it. Today I was going through an…Read more
The Different Kinds of Guitar Teachers You Meet
I've been thinking a lot about how I teach during Covid, as doing stuff online has of course stopped my in-person ensemble teaching, and all my one on one lessons are via zoom. For no particular reason, I've been thinking of the different teachers I've had or observed others having. They mostly break down into these 4 types, and obviously many teachers are hybrids and don't easily fall into one category. I'm probably missing a few types (like the "just intimidate your student" type):
1. The "This Is My…Read more
Watch an Online Concert With Michael Occhipinti and Elizabeth Shepherd
Elizabeth Shepherd and I did an online concert for the Kimberley Arts Council, in Kimberley BC on November 21st, and you can watch/hear it here. We were supposed to be on tour in western Canada this month, so the concert was a welcome opportunity to share some of the music we would have performed. Elizabeth and I wanted it to sound as good as possible, so we recorded the show at David Travers-Smith's studio in Toronto, where we've also been finishing tracks for our debut duo album. It should be out in…Read more
How We Learn Guitar
The guitar is a funny instrument to learn. It translates so well to graphs and video that a novice guitarist can get to the point of sounding pretty good relatively quickly. I don't just mean learning chords and being able to play for a sing along at a campfire, but playing single note riffs and things that sound virtuosic. If you want to know how to play the impressive lick in a particular song with a little finger tapping thrown in, there's someone on You Tube who will show you how to do it. Then it…Read more
It's the 60th Anniversary of John Coltrane's monstrously influential album "Giant Steps" and my friend Steve Kaldestad just posted that he gets really bugged about comments concerning Tommy Flanagan's piano solo on that particular tune. Tommy was a great pianist, but that solo is short and simple compared to much of his other soloing on record because the music just wasn't familiar, and we've all been there. So here's a story.
When I went to the Banff Centre for The Arts Jazz Workshop back in 1991, the…Read more
Global Toronto Showcase July 31st!
Hey everyone, Global Toronto was supposed to be a live conference that would bring international and domestic presenters and other music industry folk to Toronto, where a curated group of performers would get the chance to showcase themselves. My Sicilian Jazz Project was one of those chosen acts, and I'm pleased to share that Global Toronto is still happening, but that the organizers are taking it online. While we would all rather meet people in person, the upside to this situation is the organizers have…Read more
Happy International Jazz Day!!!
Happy International Jazz Day! I have to confess I'm not super driven to shoot video of myself playing jazz at home right now, I'm itching to move some air in the same space as someone else. So instead I offer this, ten musicians who directly changed my jazz life not named Occhipinti (because there's no question that my brother Roberto Occhipinti, and Peter, and my cousin David all helped shape my early interest in music):
In no particular order and for no particular reason (and to clear, this is a far from…Read more
Upcoming Gigs All Canceled...Fingers Crossed For When They Happen Again!
Well, I've taken down my "Upcoming Gigs" page for now, just because everything is either canceled or on hold for now. Elizabeth Shepherd and I are supposed to be on tour from June 20-July 12 doing Canada's Jazz Festivals and other shows, and while they haven't been canceled, I can't say for certain they'll proceed. The next few weeks of social distancing and isolation and what they do to the covid 19 virus will probably decide. The good news is I've been succeeding in my goal of writing at least a couple…Read more
Well, with my wife having returned from a trip to Cuba, we're following Toronto Public Health's guidelines and self-isolating (and Toronto in general is doing that).
Like every musician I know, my gigs and teaching have been canceled (except for some video guitar lessons), and we're all looking forward to the federal government announcing some financial relief measures. We're all missing our contact with other musicians and friends, but I'm trying to stay positive and use it as a time to do things with my…Read more
Agents - the Good, the Bad, The Ugly
Ok I'm a musician first, but since I am booking shows at Hugh's Room Live, I do get to see things from a different perspective too, and I'm learning a lot about agents and what I like/don't like. Maybe these general thoughts are useful to those of you with agents, or seeking an agent, or maybe if you are an agent.
Some agents literally write me " JOE SCHMOE(name of artist). Interested?"
I have to admit, I'm usually not interested if that's all the agent wants to share with me, unless we're talking about…Read more