December 3, 2011 in Story
I posted this on Facebook a few months back. Those of you that are musicians can appreciate the genius behind this short excerpt. Those who aren’t musically inclined can still appreciate the beautiful spirit and unwavering positivity of this man… The following excerpt is from Charlie Banacos as he was literally on his death bed; about to succumb to cancer. Charlie was the proverbial Jazz Guru – he had students all over the world who studied with him via mail for years AND a two-year waiting list to study in person. I studied through correspondence using cassette tapes for a little over a (very intense) year – The first tape Charlie sent me sounded like this “Hey Victah!!! (Bostonian) Ya really cookin’ man! I know that those lines you playin’ aren’t easy on that instrument – but dig, you playin’ too many card (chord) tones, alright? So we gotta get you playin’ more tensions and passing tones, ok? So hea’s ya first exacise!!!” Then he went on to explain it… Anyway, the excerpt below was released shortly after Charlie’s passing and even though I never met him in person, he changed my life and my playing… So reading this is always surreal to me… If you think you’re having a bad day, imagine what his day must have been like when he was explaining his “Emergency Room Symphony”.
“Another great way to practice when you can’t move around too much is figure out the chord or chords that you hear in the hospital and use that to practice different sonorities. I’ll give you an example of what’s happening right now: most of the electronic sounds of this hospital at this moment are B’s, D#’s, F#’s and A-naturals. Now there are other sounds, but those are the pre-dominant sounds coming from the electronic equipment (and people yelling “Code Red!!!” Just kidding…) So you could say right at this moment I’m swimming around in a pool of Bdom7. If you use that as a basis, the next time you hear somebody yell “code” you can practice and name its function against the B7 chord as quickly as possible and it makes a type of symphony. For example, let’s say someone says “saline” and you notice that they said it on E and G, you would say to yourself “sa” is 4 and “line” is flat-6. Let’s say you hear a nurse say “stat” and it just happens to be an F, you might say “Oh, that was #4 (or flat-5)”. This way you can do this all day long and have a mini symphony going on. I hope you never have to use this kind of exercise in this type of situation, but it works everywhere – in diners, supermarkets, etc. So try it and you might have fun playing that game.”