by Jim Carlton
Mimi Fox, she talks about the importance of listening and how both Bruce Forman and Joe Pass taught her that listening to other jazz guitar artists improves and inspires a serious jazz musician’s development. You can learn guitar from Mimi Fox in her jazz guitar lessons on TrueFire, including Flying Solo and Graduated Solos.
MF: It was a long haul getting into jazz. I started on drums at age nine but still picked out Gershwin tunes on the family piano. Then when I was ten, my folks got me a
JC: What specific things did he show you?
MF: The first time I went for a lesson he said, “Let’s play something,” and we did some little blues, and he said, “Wow, you don’t need
JC: The classic burning desire.
MF: Exactly! When I heard Bruce something clicked in me and I knew this is what I wanted. He didn’t bull**** me either. He said I could do a number of other things that would make me a lot more money but if this is what I loved, that I had what it takes. He said he wouldn’t waste his time with me if he didn’t think I had it. And although Bruce was really supportive, there were times when he’d kick my ass. Joe Pass would do that too. Once in a lesson, Joe said, “Why did you end on that chord? That chord was around before I was born.” But basically I learned there are all kinds of lessons you can learn if you stay open and listen.
JC: Are you tired of telling how you approached Joe Pass?
MF: No, not at all. It’s still very vivid in my mind, especially his initial attempt to reject me. He was playing in town (San Francisco) with Joe Williams. And I was with a friend who said, “It’s now or never,” and she basically pushed me to the head of the line to meet him. I was stumbling over my words but I told him I was studying with Bruce Forman and wondered if I could take a lesson. He said, “Awww, if you’re studying with Bruce what do you need me for?” But I said I’d been working hard on solo
He was very gruff but I showed up at ten and he was in his robe and slippers and already smoking a cigar. Then he said, “Sit Down, play something.” And although I was really nervous and sweating, I played six or seven numbers and he finally puts his cigar down and says, “Thank ****ing God, you wouldn’t believe the schmucks that come see me who can’t play their way through a twelve-bar blues. You can play. Why haven’t I heard of you?” Then he said, “You’re practicing too much. I can tell. If you want to work on your solo
So that was my Joe Pass experience. Any time you have people you admire that recognize your talent and respect you and give you those positive strokes it keeps you from getting tunnel vision. And he said, “Don’t ever lose that fire in your belly. Not everybody has that.” And I promised him that I never would. lt was so special. I remember that day as if it were yesterday.