The Journey

 

Christopher Crocco attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and graduated Cum Laude in 1997. Since that time he has worked nationally and internationally as a full time performer, composer, and educator. With performances as a sideman and leader at every major jazz club in New York City, Crocco established himself as one the most unique improvisational voices on the scene. He has performed with Kenny Werner, Mike Mainieri, John Lockwood, Dennis Irwin, George Garzone, Greg Tardy, Sam Yahel, Antonio Farao, Frank Tiberi, Bob Gullotti, Francisco Mela, Ben Street, Kenny Brooks, Ross Pederson, Peter Slavov, Pete Zimmer, Jeremy Allen, John Sullivan, Rick Margitza, Essiet Essiet, Eivind Opsvik, Charles Blenzig, Sean Conly, Tony Moreno, and Ian Froman amongst others.

 

Crocco's longtime relationship with master saxophonist and educator George Garzone, has helped him acquire a uniquely individual voice not only as a guitarist but also through his continued mentoring to students at all levels of music development. Crocco is the only musician qualified to fluidically perform, compose, and teach Garzone's original pedagogy called, "The Triadic Chromatic Approach". He has had the privilege of conducting master classes at music institutions and universities across Europe and the United States. In addition to teaching private students in New York City, Crocco is also an adjunct professor within the New School Jazz Department.

 

His current group is called "FLUID". It includes a rotation of some of the finest musicians working and performing in improvisational music today. "FLUID" has released a number of highly acclaimed CDs & DVDs. Exploring every aspect of truth in music and art, "FLUID" performs with a ferocity and freedom... swing and organic color. Every show is energized with the colors of life.

 

The Story

 

"From the beginning I realized a musical truth that I hadn’t learned or played in all my years of study and performance. Even throughout my college days I felt something was wrong. After 18 years, “Truth” was the most important thing missing in my professional and personal musical life. In the pursuit to be a well rounded musician and the best improviser I could be…. I still fell into all the traps….. The guitar traps. The prostitution, habitual, non permutation, form, function, and truth-less playing that creates the worst in all guitarists. My theory, “Harmony is not a function of Style”, has only now been reinforced by 20 years of pursuing the truth. I left Berklee accomplishing some personal goals, shedding styles, learned a be-bop language (based not on horns but more about well known guitarists’ be-bop language conversion)….. So it seems I had missed the whole point. The truth of my playing was not found in my heart, blood, soul, or mind…. It was really just in the prostitution through my hands.  I really blame only two things. My own lack of self predicating truthfulness that should have been strong enough to guide me away from lies in music and improvisation. And second….. The distinction that the contextual language inherent to guitarists (not only in jazz) has in almost 60 years not changed, but only from a stylistic and technological point of view. The pentatonic scale has become the habitual god of guitarists all over the world. To explain in more depth it was the stylistic changes that arose from the climate of the 20th century and technological changes that were pervasive in how the guitar is viewed via volume and of course greater effect processing; as well as the placement of the guitar in the forefront of the musical bandstand. In all honesty the language of the blues, swing, then be-bop, then to pop/rock (indeed in the most heavy of metal bands pentatonic blues harmonies are still dominant) they were all languages of melody and improvisation that were adapted not born, transcribed not originated, habitually prostituted not honestly played from a born truth on the instrument with six strings….. known more for it’s place in the mythic stadium antics, fireworks, and almost angel of death repetitions that serve no purpose except masturbating self indulgence whilst at the same time knowing (or maybe not knowing) that most if not all guitarists are plugged in and playing lies."

 

"Upon arrival in New York City I called at least a dozen guitarists. However only 2 weeks into my “new” NY life I had decided to take a lesson with George. (I was actually in one of George's ensembles at Berklee so he was familiar with me if but from a far.) After that I threw away everyone else’s numbers and such began the first day of my eventual freedom! From the onset I asked, hoped, and wanted all the high level conceptual improvisation I knew George could teach me. What I got was my ass handed to me! After a number of lessons George said, “Let’s start over”. I had heard of his Triadic Chromatic Approach, but wouldn’t even touch that surface for months. Instead of deep philosophical harmony, theory, and conceptual improvisation I was playing whole notes to a metronome set on 60 BPM. Hell and pain are two words that can’t even broach how hard it was in the first three months much less the first three years! I say years and mean years… for every year I had been the typical guitarist, I seemed to spend between 7-10 months going through detoxification in every musical pursuit George could think of. Looking back now, I can laugh and smile at what took place, but during that time I saw no apparent end…. no apparent answer… and no apparent resolution. George treated me not as a saxophonist and not as a guitarist, but as a musician first. The eventual freedom I received is due to my desire to go as far down the rabbit hole as possible! Two things that I think of regularly are steeped in how George pushed me, consequently breaking me in two. The first is that George really knew very little about the guitar, its harmony, its players, its tradition, and its approaches. The second was that he didn’t give a shit! I would argue with him in those first years about his approach that didn’t or couldn’t work on the guitar. Even at times use other famous guitar players as examples… I even went so far as to play a solo over changes from a very well known jazz guitarist without George’s knowledge to see what his personal reaction might be. Of course it wasn’t good! I had come to the end, which actually was my beginning……. This is the most important moment of my musical journey…….Choose to remain in the world I knew and use tricks, licks, repetition, and the vastness of technology to disguise the very nature of my elementary guitar playing….. Or set myself free and leave it all behind to embrace that which I knew not an ending, only a beginning. This choice set in motion a 7 year, every Thursday journey in multiple hour lessons that seemed more like a Francis Ford Coppola film, somewhere between Apocalypse Now and The Godfather, which changed my life in everyway. For that…. I will always be grateful to my dear friend, brother, and mentor George Garzone. John Coltrane once said, “If you want to play truth, you have to live it everyday”. Damn right! For these reasons I’ll be on this journey till the end of my time. After all these years in New York City, a ton of musical experiences, CDs & DVDs, tours, and millions of hours spent with my instrument I finally found the very thing which has always existed inside my soul." 

 

"I have my freedom... Now I have only to enjoy it."

BIOGRAPHY