On A Life In Jazz Guitar Playing.
Starting in the mid 60s it was all rock for me with Cream and Jimi Hendrix great musical inspiration. Since 1966 I had had the most wonderful guitar teacher (Diane Whitcomb) who insisted I learn to read, chord solos, and study my exercises so that the following week I could play them as perfectly as I could (which was not very God Damned perfect at all!). In 1971 she and her boyfriend at the time (a great guitarist now in Seattle Washington named Fred McCall) took me to the big jazz guitarists hangout at Donte's in North Hollywood to see Joe Pass. She pointed out who was who in the audience that had turned out to see Joe that night. (And just to show you how jazz was in the SF Valley) Barney Kessel, Howard Roberts, Johnny Smith, Herb Ellis (I'm not joking!) and I was a man I was certain was Larry Coryell (I had recently started getting into him as he was (then and now) the most authentic of jazz/rock fusion guitarists.
The impression Joe Pass had made on me that night was the conviction I immediately had that if a person could only play guitar that way that they would never need to master anything else (I was 17 at the time!).
Anyway moving up to 1972 I became very disillusioned with rock as everyone I had emulated (and worshiped) had either died or broken up. And you know the names: Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Beatles, Cream, Jim Morrison etc.
and what took it's place (and the place of psychedelic rock) was the emergence of new rock forms that really didn't turn me on very much. The was a return to the suffering singer/songwriter thing, funk, progressive rock (which like fusion was OK at the beginning but soon strangled on it's own pretentiousness). So I had a great High School music teacher as well (Louis Fratturo who had played alto sax with Stan Kenton) who helped me immensely as I crossed over into jazz.
I was struggling very much with studying Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt and I was learning and memorizing their solos note for note but nothing was really making sense. So my music teacher (Mr Fratturo) told me 'You really need to study the Bird (Charlie Parker)' which I did starting with the memorization of 3 takes of 'Billie's Bounce' from his Savoy recordings. I started to notice patterns emerging and how he brilliantly resolved the II - V7 - I progression and the many ways he did this. Along the way I learned about Sonny Rollins and couldn't help but notice that my virtue of my studying Bird that I already knew around 50% of Sonny Rollin's music. I very soon concluded that EVERY modern jazz musician from Bird on what playing Bird's stuff!!!! All of a sudden the storm clouds parted and the sun beamed through as I realized I had unlocked the secrets of Joe Pass and everybody else - Charlie Parker!