Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tedesco the Younger

This morning I got the fright of my life!

I was peacefully waking up, sipping my coffee and planning my practice day. I was curious -- but not too curious -- as to why it had been more than a week since I'd seen Dracrevocsid, the Lady of Lake Taneycomo. I glanced at my coffee mug and thought for a second that I saw something in it. "Darn mosquitoes!" I said, "Where are the bats when I need them?"

I wasn't speaking figuratively. We have a few bats living in the ceiling of our garage. We called a company called Critter Control about them because we wanted the bats to be dealt with humanely, and that's what Critter Control does. Their man came out and checked out our house, telling us that in late August, after the baby bats have flown the "coop", he can install some cone-like affairs which will allow the bats to fly out, but not allow them to fly back in.

Anyway, so I said, "Where are the bats when I need them?" and swirled the coffee in my mug, trying to see what, if anything, was in there. To my fright and surprise, a head popped out! Startled, I spilled some coffee on the floor. For a moment, I thought it was a bat, but upon closer examination, it turned out to be the tiny head of... you guessed it... Dracrevocsid, the Lady of Lake Taneycomo!

With a pop, the tiny Dracrevocsid, disappeared from the coffee mug and appeared full-sized next to me on the couch. In the process, the displaced coffee in the mug caved in on the now empty space once occupied by Dracrevocsid, and splashed in my face.

"Gotcha!" she said, dripping coffee on my couch, "I just love that joke! It always gets 'em." I took it that by "'em" she meant mere mortals like me. "Well, thank you very much," I said, "A fine way to wake me up. You should go into show biz. They need people like you in Las Vegas!" "Don't insult me," she said, "I am not a 'people'! I am a magical-mystical-musical being!" "Anyway," I said, "I was just, uh... lamenting over the fact that I hadn't seen you in over a week." "And don't patronize me," she retorted, "I get enough of that whenever I talk to the Wood-Sprites about selling me a new guitar to give to one of my clients! I can't, for the eternal life of me, figure out why they suck up to me. I mean it's not like I'm going to buy a guitar from Manny's Music in New York!"

"Actually," I sincerely lamented, "it looks like nobody is going to buy a guitar from Manny's Music anymore." And it's true. Another New York jazz shrine closes and waits for the wrecking ball. I read in the news that Manny's and other shops on the 42nd Street "Music Row" are, or will be, closing. NYC suits are buying up the property to knock down and put up another skyscraper! Just what NYC needs: another skyscraper! It's a pity. Manny's is where I bought my first "serious" guitar, a Gibson L-5, back in 1973. Manny's was bought out by Guitar Center years ago. Now all the employees there will be transferred to other Guitar Center stores in NY and New Jersey.

"Wow!" said Dracrevocsid, mostly dry now, but taking the moment to wring some coffee on my living room floor from her frock, "That is bad news. But the good news is that I've come to bestow upon you another gift! And another task to perform." "I don't know," I said, "The last couple 'gifts' you've brought me have been more like tasks to perform, and the 'tasks' you've given me sounded, well... sounded closer to being threats! And I've been meaning to ask you: where's this student apprentice you promised me?" She replied, "All in good time. Patience, young padawan. Patience is the Jedi way. Impatience can only lead to the 'Dark Side'." I stared blankly at her, so she went on, "That last part was a joke! How come nobody gets my sense of humor? However, I want you to know that I have noticed your efforts of late and, as you have been working very hard, I didn't think it necessary to pop in on you to give you any instruction (which has enabled me to spend some time with my other clients). I have also seen that you have been paying quite a lot of attention to playing your classical guitar (what is its name?) and working on learning Gene Bertoncini's harmonic style."

And it's true: I have been playing a lot of jazz on my classical Yamaha CGX171CCA guitar, and beginning to learn Gene Bertoncini's (link in side-bar) style of playing. I bought a DVD put out by Mel Bay company named Gene Bertoncini: the Art of Solo Jazz Guitar. Steve Abshire (link in side-bar) sent me Gene's cd Body and Soul, plus a few recordings with Steve and Gene playing together! Man, what a fortunate guitarist Steve is (and he sounds great on the recordings). Bertoncini's music has opened up an entirely new world for me! Particularly in the area of arranging for the guitar. He does things on the classical guitar which some of his harmonies have been in my head for a long time and I am learning an encyclopedia of new ones. I hope to be able to travel to NYC this fall to hear and see Gene play and, if I am very lucky, to get a lesson from him. I am in the process of working up a repertoire for the guitar which I can play solo. Very handy around here where there is a lack, practically speaking, of jazz bassists and drummers (the really good ones are playing 6 - 10 shows a week in Branson and have little chops or time to play other gigs). I would like to add the classical guitar to my arsenal: in my head, some tunes just sound right on electric while others sound right on classical guitar.

"But enough wool-gathering!" said Dracrevocsid, "and I know what you mean about Mr. Bertoncini. I listen to him a lot, although I must say (giggling) that when he plays a jazz club and I hide in someone's drink, the alcohol makes me a bit tipsy! However, as I said, I have come to bestow upon you, a gift! I bring... will bring to you a Taylor NS72CE classical guitar which you shall address as 'Tedesco!'"

"Tedesco?!!" I said, "Kind of a weird name for a guitar although, now that I think about it, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was a rather famous composer and performer of classical guitar, while Tommy Tedesco was a renowned jazz performer and session player (recordings you've heard: themes to Bonanza, Green Acres, and M*A*S*H, to name a few), so I guess the name does make sense after all. But see here, I've already got a classical guitar, and it's a special one because my wife Ann bought it for me."

"Oh, it's a fine guitar," she said apologetically, "And it does have some mojo on it, but it doesn't have the resonance and projection that my guitar will have, not to mention some of my magic. It will be a Taylor NS72CE ... top of the line Taylor. And I find I must apologize (not an easy thing for a Lady of a Lake to do) for the fact that it's been back-ordered." "'Back-ordered?' From Taylor??" I interjected, "I thought all your guitars were made by Wood Elves in their... I don't know... forest shop or something. What's this talk about Taylor?"

"Well, in the first place," she replied, "It's Wood-Sprites who make them. In the second place, they do make them in their workshop, but the Ladies of other Lakes have placed so many orders lately, partly due to your blog thingy, that they have run out of room in the workshop and have had to contract out with Taylor and other production guitar manufacturers for space in their workshops.Taylor , being the large and powerful company it is, agreed to let the Wood-Sprites work there, and allowed them to put as much magic as they would like on their guitars, but that they must use Taylor materials and put their logo on them. An untenable position, to say the least, but, hey, what are ya gonna do? The Master Luthiers all tell us that there will be a year or two lead-time through them, so it's either work with the manufacturers, or lose part of our client's market share. Even so, the Wood-Sprites have had to back order some guitars.

"Well..." she announced, glancing at her Rolex, pulling out her wand and preparing to disappear, "Time is money and I've got to trot. It's been nice giving you the... doing business with you..." "Wait a minute!" I interrupted, "When am I going to get this new guitar? And anyway, I'll then have two classical guitars. How shall I know how to address them?" "Cute!" she said, "Very funny. Okay then. At the Lake Ladies Orientation Course they told us to 'go with the flow' whenever possible concerning dealing with mere mortals: trust me, it just makes it easier. So you shall address the guitar you already have as 'Tedesco the Elder', and the new one as 'Tedesco the Younger'."

I thought to myself, "Geez, but I've got a lot of work to do, and somewhere in there I have to get my truck repaired from the hail damage..." "Oh, that..." she said, "I meant to tell you about that: I was running low on coin, so I had to 'borrow' that truck repair money from your bank account to pay for the guitar." "Mighty fine time to tell me about that! Anything else I can do for you? Need a loan? Would you like me to make some sandwiches for you to take with you?"

"Hilarious!" she said, "If this guitarist thing doesn't work out for you, you'll have a great career in comedy. Now get off your keister and go practice!" And with that, she disappeared.

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