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"I always have students make a blank book, because they're going to discover hundreds of things. You need to write them down, because at the end of the year, it could all be like mush. What do they put in the books? Sometimes people will write a great lick or a melody. They may not write the rest of the song, but they could do so in the future. It's the same thing with me. In my books there are different kinds of scales and different rhythms, chord voicings, and inversions; a Latin tune, a more Middle-Eastern kind of a jam vibe; harmonized diminished scales; and even poetry. I experiment with all these different possibilities, and then two or three things may develop into a tune or an arrangement that I'm writing, or later, with time and practice they'll be able to fall under my fingers easier for soloing or melodic improvisational ideas."
"This semester I have a Brazilian fingerstyle guitar technique lab and an Afro-pop guitar ensemble. A lot of those styles have multiple guitars or stringed instruments—especially in Mali. This is similar to the multiple percussion layers that are famous in African music styles. In our class the guitars all get together and play that polyphonic and polyrhythmic music. It's really exciting."
"I'm a 'jazz' guitarist based in blues and the African-American tradition but also a studied classical player. I play Brazilian and Latin music, Afro-Cuban, and music that bridges the gap to other world styles from an improvisational/nontraditional approach. I have a project with a sitar player named Shubhendra Rao, a great disciple of Ravi Shankar, and another with the great percussionist Badal Roy (of Miles Davis fame). I also have a lot of African rhythms in my music, and last year I went on tour to Senegal, Mali, the Ivory Coast, and Benin and jammed with the n'goni master Bassekou Kouyate. Years ago I toured with the great Malian singer Salif Keita and the kora master Toumani Diabate. My style isn't the easiest to market. Sometimes the business likes something simpler: Are you a blues guitarist? Are you a jazz guitarist? It should appeal to anyone who likes to have fun and dance and hear all these different grooves!"
"What I want for my students is to be well rounded and have the skills to adapt to many musical situations. You never know and cannot plan the future. I would never have anticipated the call to play with Salif, and if another friend of mind hadn't asked me to bring my classical guitar to a jazz gig with a Brazilian drummer, I wouldn't have ever done it. But because I knew my chords and scales and was musical, I could hear the rhythms, hear the harmony, and go with it. If students develop their basic skills it can help them get jobs in different styles, from playing in pit orchestras and recording studios to endless creative directions."