The Pedagogy of Jazz Improvisation- Charlie Banacos

Charlie Banacos is once of the most influential Jazz teachers of the 20th century. When I was in school in Boston he was legendary, and had a two year waiting list to study with him. Anders Bostrom, my housemate in Boston, studied with him and I would hear the types of things that Charlie had assigned each week. Everything that Anders was working on was more more advanced than anything that I was getting at Berklee.

 For years I have just heard the results of his teaching in the playing of the students that spent time studying with him, but never really had a clear understanding of his pedagogy. Charlie also taught correspondence lessons to students all across the country, and there must be many of his written lessons floating around out there. I have never run across any myself, though not for a lack of trying. I will not even make an attempt to write about the profound effect that this educator had on his students. My good friend and pianist Kerry Politzer studied with Charlie for seven years and if you even mention his name around her she gets visibly upset, reminded of the great loss of his passing. Charlie inspired a such high level of devotion in his students that many of them speak about him more as a father figure or spiritual teacher than a Jazz educator. The influential players/educators who studied with Banacos reads like a who's who of Jazz: Gary Dial (for over 40 years), Randy & Michael Brecker, Mike Stern, Bill Frisell, Joey Calderazzo, Danilo Perez, Jeff Berlin, Kenny Werner, George Garzone and Bill Pierce, and many more.

Regular CV blog reader Stephan van Briel recently sent me a link to a former Bancacos student's (Lefteris Kordis) New England Conservatory doctorate dissertation. The dissertation details much of Charlie's teaching methods and concepts, something that I have been curious about for many years. There is some great material in there that is worthy of serious study for any Jazz educator or student.

From a letter from the Banacos family:

"As we approach what would have been Charlie's 66th birthday next month, his family would like to express their deep gratitude and appreciation to a number of individuals who have kept his legacy alive. There is a newly published dissertation by Lefteris Kordis at the New England Conservatory of Music on Charlie's pedagogy (appropriately named "Top Speed and in All Keys: Charlie Banacos's Pedagogy of Jazz Improvisation"). Lefteris' tireless research - including helpful interviews from dozens of students - resulted in an exciting and wonderfully comprehensive assessment of Charlie's teaching methods.  "
Charlie's daughter Barbara still offers correspondence courses, faithfully following Charlie's teaching methods.
 Top Speed in all Keys- Pedagogy of Charlie Banacos

Charlie Banacos: Recollections of a Legend (All About Jazz)
Charlie Banacos: The Zen Master of Improvisation
Charlie Banacos Wiki page


Law of Attraction said...

can you please share link to dissertation. Thanks!

David Carlos Valdez said...

ust click on the link Top Speed in All Keys

David Carlos Valdez said...

Sorry. You were correct. For some reason it was not showing up. It should work now.

Kontakt said...

Thanks a lot-
merry christmas from Prague!!!

tjjazzpiano said...

Very Cool. Thanks David.

Unknown said...

That paper is excellent!

Rob said...

Barbara is Charlie's daughter, not widow. Thanks for the excellent blog.

Unknown said...

Hello Everyone,

Here is the link to the doctoral dissertation. http://www.leftchordmusic.com/leftchordmusic.com/Publications.html

Unknown said...

Sorry, the above link shouldn't work. Here is the correct one: