Jack Pezanelli

Professor

"Because my uncles were musicians who led 'normal lives' in the '40s and '50s, I assumed that I was going to do it, too. I never really realized that theirs was a different era. To me, it sounded like a real job—little did I know! Though one of my uncles, who was my first teacher, tried to discourage me from playing because he thought it was a bad business to be in."

"Today the world is so different. My students can't believe that I had a two-bedroom apartment right around the corner from Berklee for $150 a month. And there was a great jazz club nearby where, if you had a Berklee ID and a buck, you could sit there right in front of the Miles Davis Quintet or John Coltrane—all the greats—and we took it for granted. I tell that to my students and they just look at me like I'm from another planet. Which maybe I am!"

"Berklee students come to me for my harmonic approach to jazz guitar. Even as a kid, I was dissatisfied with the way harmony was broached on the guitar. So I started to learn more from piano players than guitar players, which has given me a comprehensive, pianistic approach to melody and harmony on the guitar. Guitarists generally are not taught harmony on the fretboard in a comprehensive way. Pianists learn harmony through systems of inversion; if you do that with the guitar, what you end up with is a deeper understanding of applied harmony on the fretboard."

"My point of departure with a student is wherever that student is at that moment. As long as there's a good attitude and desire to learn, we can work with that. I'm most concerned that my students be involved in the learning process, and make an effort in their playing and improvising. I'm confident that if they engage in that process, growth will occur. I've had students who have gone on to become famous players, and I guess that's a sort of extrinsic evaluation of my success. A more intrinsic measure, to me, is any time there is growth."

"We all say that students have to 'find their own voice,' but that phrase gets a little misused. Of course they should find their own voice, but that will happen if you let it happen. The other voice I think my students should find is a voice that's rooted in the continuum of this music, one that draws from and builds on the jazz tradition."

Career Highlights

 

  • Alumnus, Berklee College of Music
  • B.A., State University of New York
  • Ed.M., Cambridge College
  • Private studies with Jimmy Giuffre
  • Recordings as leader include Pleasured Hands featuring Michael Moore
  • Performances/tours with Wayne Cochran, Richie Cole, Larry Coryell, Sammy Davis, Jr., Maynard Ferguson, Shirley Horn, Cleo Laine, Rebecca Parris, Jaco Pastorius, Herb Pomeroy, Lou Rawls, and others
  • Educational materials include Key Jazz Rhythms with Fred Lipsius, Advance Music
  • Profiled in The Jazz Guitar, Its Evolution and Players Since 1900, Fourth Edition, by Maurice J. Summerfield, Ashley Mark Publishers, U.K.