I am primarily a jazz bassist, but I earned a performing arts masters degree in classical bass in 1982 - I have been, as did my teacher Lennie Tristano, teaching the art of jazz improvising to players of all instruments including drummers and vocalists since the mid 1970's - I also spent about thirty years as a member of the music faculty at one of the CUNY colleges - my article "Doing it the Slow Way" first published in 1989 has since circulated widely via the internet and has been translated into many languages including Japanese
What I really love is hearing my students find and develop their own individual "voices" on their chosen instruments - that is what the art of improvising is all about and the reason why I have continued to study and teach it for almost 50 years
Joe is a true teacher, one of the greatest I have ever had. He will teach you about jazz improvisation, for sure - and he is a master improviser himself - but most importantly he will get your head in the right place so you can access the creativity we all have locked up within us. He is endlessly patient and encouraging and can make anybody feel like a real musician with something to say. He plays bass but can teach you to improvise on any instrument (e.g. I am a trumpet player) because the essentials are the same. Joe's method brings you deep into the creative process to help you find your own style and voice rather than sounding like a copycat. I would venture to say there are very few teachers who can do that well -- and I guarantee you will learn a lot about yourself and about life in the process. In short, he is amazing. You will not regret a moment spent studying with Joe and there's a fairly good chance he might even change your life.
I liked how deeply and intently he listened to my playing each and every week we were working together. He is highly invested in each one of his students and he creates an atmosphere where the process can flourish.
I've been studying with Joe since 2015. To start, I'm a piano player, not a bassist. But I can say that for improvisation, the instrument that you play is not the important thing. What you are learning with Joe is a simple and effective methodology to practicing and performing jazz improv. For me, it makes practicing feel meditative, where every bit counts, from the simplest c-scale to the more complex soloing over multiple changes. First of all, I found that Joe does not overburden you with a million different things to work on, but rather, meets you at your level, and then builds you up bit by bit. Secondly, He also does not ridicule you, or make you feel stupid, but lets you know the things you've done well and the things you need to still work at in a constructive way. Thirdly, he makes sure you always use a metronome, and really feel the rhythm, something often forgotten when playing. And lastly, he makes you sing the great the great solos of Lester Young and Charlie Parker (among others) to really feel and incorporate their vision. While sometimes his method of teaching can feel mysterious, for me, through the mystery comes great strides in being a much more competent and deeper musician. More and more, I feel that I'm actually saying something when I solo, not just playing licks or scales. Furthermore, my ears, my listening skills, have improved greatly, allowing me to relatively quickly figure out on the fly the chord changes and melody of a tune. Ultimately, one of Joe's greatest lessons is to just embrace the slow, bumpy road of practicing music, and that through the slow and deepening awareness of the scales, chords, melodies, solos, and tunes you work on, you will come out as a true voice. As actually saying something unique, and not just being another run-of-the-mill jazz-player. You will have a sound and a voice to be remembered by.
I'd been playing bass for 47 years but, in all that time, I had never actually studied privately. My ear has gotten me a lot of professional gigs over the years but I always felt there could be more. Joe's patient persistence this past year has gotten me to places beyond where I ever thought I could go. It's been hard to break some old habits and rewire my musical brain, but Joe's never given up on me. He'll kick your butt if you need it, but it's well worth it.
We meet first for a one hour interview at my expense during which I ask new students questions about their experience (I teach students at all levels) and plans - I then go over very thoroughly my approach to teaching and the practical issues (scheduling, cost, etc.) of studying with me - students are encouraged to ask whatever questions they have and decide for themselves whether to continue