Teddy Greene Singer-Songwriter
Teddy Greene was an aspiring musician who fell in love with Stella Gigante, daughter of Genovese crime family boss Chin Gigante. The couple’s doomed relationship inspired many fans, including Kelvin Harrison, who portrayed him in Godfather of Harlem. Greene was a guitarist who taught at guitar shops and privately at his home. He also wrote several books, including Chord Chemistry.
Greene’s guitar mastery encompassed a broad range of musical ideas. He had a fondness for old thirties and forties sounds but also wrote books on advanced harmonic progressions and fingerboard theory, studied with the grand master of chord melody George Van Eps, and developed a unique conception of solo guitar arranging linked to baroque music. He played with a wide palette of tones, and possessed an expressive sensibility that allowed him to convey emotion through his playing.
His phrasing was light, and he often utilized legato articulations such as hammer-ons and pull-offs to create a sound that was smooth, melodic and expressive. He also experimented with tuning, and was able to determine what key would give him the best tone for his particular instrument. He used this knowledge to help his students develop their own improvisational skills and harmonic understanding. He was a natural teacher. He was also an accomplished composer and a poet. His influences were wide and varied, including George Gershwin, the Great American Songbook, Max Steiner, and J.S. Bach.
Ted Greene was a renowned guitarist and music educator, with a devoted following that extended to hundreds of students. He was a natural when it came to teaching, and his interaction with students was effortless.
He was also a talented songwriter and composer, with a deep love for the American Songbook. His influences included George Gershwin, the Great American Songbook, film composer Max Steiner, and J.S. Bach. He was also a fan of New Orleans piano and ’50s and ’60s R&B music.
He also had a love for improvisation, and his renditions of popular songs like the Star Spangled Banner would take the most accomplished musicians hours to master. He also had a gift for transcribing complex chords and reharmonizing them. Vai recalls how Greene could play a simple tune and make it sound complex and original. Greene died of heart attack at his apartment in Encino, California, on July 25, 2005. He was 58.
For years Greene was a devoted teacher and would charge very little for his lessons. Guitar players have described him as a Yoda-like figure and one of the best teachers in the world. He transcribed all of the major music theory books for the guitar and taught students how to improvise and read music. He also wrote a number of well-received books including Chord Chemistry and Modern Chord Progressions: Jazz and Classical Voicings for Guitar.
Greene was also a talented pianist who could play any style of music. He would often accompany singers at clubs. He also enjoyed playing solo guitar. He was a very hard worker and spent many hours at the guitar, practicing for long periods of time.
He died of a heart attack at the age of 58 in Encino, California. He was survived by his wife, Barbara Franklin. He was also the father of three children, Ronald, Linda and Lisa. He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.
The guitarist Ted Greene was a master of many genres, including jazz and neo-Baroque improvisation. He was also a well-known author of guitar books, including “Chord Chemistry” and “Modern Chord Progressions”. He was equally comfortable playing in a band or soloing on the guitar. Nevertheless, he preferred teaching to performing.
He had a rare quality in that he was humble and natural in his interaction with students during master classes. He never exhibited any sense of pride or arrogance, and was always grateful for the crowd’s ovations.
He is also an excellent performer, and he demonstrated this during his master classes. For example, he would play the Star Spangled Banner several times, reharmonizing it each time, and without any difficulty. He used his knowledge of voice leading to achieve this, and he was able to shift chords instantly. This was an important skill that he taught his students. He also emphasized the importance of practicing scales.
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