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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Over Fifty Years Ago Or ... Yesterday?

Some moments in life are vividly alive, aren't they? For today's reflection, I'm requesting you put aside some of the more obvious ones like your first kiss, the birth of a child, a noteworthy news event. I'd like to hear about something unique that transformed you in a granular way.

In November 1969, I'd just begun my junior year at Kean University, nee Newark State College. I was playing drums in my rock n' roll band - as I did throughout high school - to make money. My hair was really long and my rudimentary guitar skills included just the few basic chords I needed to accompany myself singing simple tunes by Dylan or the Beatles, provided the song was in a key easy to play on guitar. My exposure to jazz guitar was nil.
Between classes one afternoon, I drifted into a room called the Little Gallery in the Student Center. On the tiny stage sat a guitarist who looked around my Dad's age with hair around the same length. I almost walked out. Then Bucky Pizzarelli began playing. I don't remember what songs he played. But even if I could remember, I'm sure on that day I wouldn't have recognized any of the tunes anyway. I do know this - my life changed that day. Almost ten years would pass before I began studying solo jazz guitar but the seed was planted that day in 1969 listening to Bucky.

The last time I heard him play was in a church on first night in Morristown on December 31 2011, joined by Frank Vignola and another young guitarist. Though Bucky was eighty five years old at the time, he was still kicking ass. I waited until his performance was done and told him how he'd inspired me forty two years prior. I'm sure many guitarists said things like that to him over his long life. Still, I'm glad I shared with him a moment in 1969 that remains vividly alive for me. What moment from your life is like that for you?


  1. One summer morning in 1958 the family radio was playing in the kitchen. A song came on and set my little 10 year old ears on fire . This sultry female voice was singing about some fever..."Hey mom who is that!" "Oh that's Peggy Lee." Yes! Her vocal performance, the lyrics and the bass accompaniment were a perfect mix. "Fever" is the benchmark against which I compare every great song I've ever heard. Some come very, very close but none has ever surpassed it.

    1. Steve; Thanks for taking the time to read & comment. I love that song too.