Monday, September 19, 2011

Tim Price Bloggin For Rico- My man Andy McGhee

~ In this life..respect from a peer that is a friend and an influence and a teacher is worth it's weight. This is my story on Andy McGhee.

Today,I made a beet salad,for dinner and had gone to finish shedding some things I was working on....The phone rang, and my wife spotted caller ID which said- Andy McGhee.
She told Andy I was practicing. After a few laughs, a two hour conversation continued about everything from books of mine he used in his lessons with current students, which I am still totally humbled by, to just things about the life inthis world as a saxophone player.

Years ago in 1969, I had my first lesson with Andy at Berklee. It was a great day, I'll never forgot it! He set me straight. At age 17.I had yet to register for the draft and had no idea of the life long friendship that would develop, as it happened.Ditto Mariano and LaPorta and Viola. Every lesson Andy set the bar, and never let me coast.Andy never let a student become a lamb to a slaughter...he was street smart and educated. Everyone from Cecil Taylor to Percy Marion can attest to his dedication as an educator.

In ensembles, he'd school me and help me on the most hippest of things. He also taught me how NOT to be a player that gave it up. Someone who just played and never got paid. He made sure I knew not to be let any BS happen on any level. And he'd tell you. Andy mentioned me in a Boston Globe article back in 2/15/2002 by Bob Blumenthal, Globe Correspondent, as one of his students that I made all the lessons and he dug.To me that means more than anything.

As time went on...we became great friends. I never realized his birthday was November 3ed and mine was November 1st...When I told him that as we had Thai dinner with my wife years ago when I turned 50 ( It seemed like it was yesterday!!! ) He said to my wife ( who is NOT a musician ) that's because Tim is to busy trying to get to all my licks!! hahaha...Which has some truth!! LOL. Charlie Mariano was a Scorpio too, which all made sense if you know me. And Andy loved Charlie! Who don't ? Charlie is universal love!!

So today,it's just one of those things.He made my day! I used to dig the Woody Herman record with Andy and Sal and Joe Romano. Little did I ever think I'd know them, or play with them. Andy was also in the " hot seat" with Lionel Hampton. That was the hot seat of hot seats. Stand up and burn every night and not stop!! He had everyone's attention. But also he was smart.He raised a family, and had a life. Another lesson !!

The late Makanda Ken McIntryre told me that when Makanda studied with Andy....ANDY WAS THE CAT. Andy was _the guy_ at the after-hours gigs ALL the recording guys like Trane would come to sit in with Andy was- CUTTING EDGE. Plus- Makanda saw some of those sessions because he was from Boston etc...and told me that a young Andy was playing some stuff that made those guys stop and think. I have no trouble thinking twice about that...because Andy is as good as it gets. Think about it- He sat aside of Sal Nistico and Frank Foster in Woody's band.

I learned a LOT from 1969 he got me studying Tranes solo on Oleo.
Andy defined " hip" also in a certain way,he has INNER can feel it.
I can't say enough about him...he is one of my favorite people and musicians.

Andy calls me,and has become a family member. He cares.Ya know I got MORE out of Berklee than my moneys worth due to guys like Andy and Joe Viola,John LaPorta and Charlie Mariano.

He talked today about my Cannonball book- and Lennie Johnson. That took ,e back to 1140 Boylston st. Lenny was the one that told me to transcribe Cannonball to chill out the tenor stuff < eg- get away from all the tenor cliche stuff > in my playing.I mention that in my book- and Nat Adderley knew who Lenny and Andy were in a NY minute.

Andy McGhee has some great books out himself thru Berklee press ; Improvisation for Saxophone and Flute: The Scale/Mode Approach and Modal Strategies for Saxophone.

Jazz...and jazz education is lucky to have someone as REAL as Andy in it's ranks ans also committed to the real thing.

A friend, teacher and world class tenor saxophonist.He's made a difference in my life. Andy McGhee, thank you for being not only real but being the essence of what this music is supposed to be!! I think a trip to Boston for some Thai with Andy is in order!

~ Tim Price


  1. Thank you Tim for a great blog.
    Many years ago I bought Andy's "Improvisation for Saxophone the scale/mode approach".
    Still have that book right besides me.

    Denis Ouellet