From Clinton, IA, Ron has performed with local and national groups over the past 40 years. Although playing many genres of music during that time, his passion remains centered around jazz. Ron's style has been influenced by guitar greats such as Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, and Wes Montgomery. Ron most commonly performs in a jazz quartet or trio setting, but has also performed in larger combos, big band settings, and as a solo performer on many occasions.
In the past, Ron has hosted advanced guitar clinics at his brother's music store www.tegelermusic.com. Visit the Tegeler Music web page for future clinics, gear demos, and music events. Here is the presentation and referenced Jamey Aebersold Red Jazz Handbook from one of his clinics:
Ron has enjoyed attending the Jamey Aebersold summer jazz workshops over the past nine years, where he has worked with some of the best jazz guitar instructors in the nation.
The guitar staff that Ron has studied with includes: Dave Stryker, Fred Hamilton, Corey Christiansen, Mike Di liddo, Pat Lentz, Craig Wagner, and Zvonimer Tot. "They have been a true inspiration and have helped me take my playing to the next level".
Ron has also performed with some of the top rated combos and musicians at the Jamey Aebersold workshops. Many of these musicians travel from all over the world to attend and perform during the week-long workshops. Ron has had the great fortune to be able to study and perform with some of the worlds leading jazz educators such as David Baker, Bobby Shew, Dan Haerle, Jim Rotondi, John Goldsby, David Kana, Steve Barnes, Eric Alexander, Walt Weiskopf, and Bill Evans.
Ron can't say enough good about the Jamey Aebersold summer jazz camp. "A week with Jamey will truly change your life." Visit the summer jazz workshop webpage for more information.
I grew up in a small town in Iowa along the Mississippi river, so exposure to music and live performances was limited. Fortunately, both of my parents were musicians, with my father playing guitar and mother playing piano. They grew up in an era where family and friends would frequently gather around the piano and play/sing along to many of the older tunes of the day. This was a big influence on myself and my brothers & sisters. My older brother was also a big influence since he was already an established musician playing drums with a small group at local clubs and events. I remember I was 5 years old when my brother let me sit in on drums with his band, which was my first experience playing on stage in front of an audience. I was hooked from that moment on. I learned to play many different instruments in the early years but eventually ended up settling on guitar as my main instrument.
I am mostly self-taught and started learning guitar and developing my sound by listening to a variety of records that my father had around the house. I remember spending hours listening to old Venture records to try to recreate those riffs and sound. By the time I started high school in the 70s, I was listening to Doobie Brothers, Eagles, Eric Clapton, etc. trying to emulate that sound. I was 13 when I started playing gigs with my family on the weekends. At that time, my sound was primarily based on Fender guitars and amps, playing light strings to allow for easy string bending. Later in high school is when I was first exposed to Jazz/Fusion music where I heard Jean Luc Ponty on a radio station. The musicianship, groove, & creativity blew me away. This is also the time that I first heard Larry Carlton. I was an instant fan, and he ultimately became my biggest influence for many years. Listening to Larry gave me the inspiration to get serious about learning jazz and start listening to some of the masters like Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery and many others. I eventually ended up attending the Jamey Aebersold summer jazz workshops, where I met my current mentor Dave Stryker. I have been working with Dave over the past 10 years, and I can’t say enough about how much he has helped my playing, jazz technique, and sound. This was the time that I started playing heavier strings and picked up a Gibson 175 & 335 to start developing a better tone for playing jazz. I also picked up a couple of vintage Polytone mini-brute amps that I am currently using on stage and in the studio. Dave’s Organ trio was a big influence for the development of my “Just Hangin Out” CD.
In the early years, I didn’t have a formal practice routine. It was all about learning tunes off the records. In some ways this was good because it allowed me to learn a lot of tunes as well as really develop my ear and timing. It was bad because without any formal training, I did pick up some bad habits. I didn’t always play clean lines and picking / fingering styles weren’t always the best. Once I started attending the Aebersold camp, I learned to develop a practice routine that split my time between technical exercises (warm-ups, scales, chord voicings, etc.) and learning tunes by listening / transcribing. I also spend more time now working on original material. Because I started and continue to play drums, my timing and rhythm has always been pretty good. However, I still practice using a metronome or Aebersold play alongs while practicing.
I’m not sure of the context of color influence here, but in general, I try to stay focused and organized to achieve my overall goal of staying true to the song, and doing whatever I can to recreate the sound I hear in my head and translate that to my instrument. There are always distractions and I’m not sure it’s possible to eliminate all influences. I do sometimes tend to play with my eyes closed to maintain that connection between my mind and my instrument.
I always try to listen to jazz before a gig to prepare myself mentally for the performance. When I get the opportunity, I also like to warm up with scales or playing tunes for 30 minutes or more beforehand to try to get my brain talking with my fingers before I walk on stage.
Just Hangin Out is my first officially released album with online distribution, so I am proud of this being the first of hopefully many more recordings. My goal was to write all original material to record with my trio, and that was accomplished with 11 original compositions included on this album. The songs were written mostly during the 2020 pandemic year where I found an abundance of spare time on my hands. We spent the beginning couple of months of 2021 recording and producing the CD. May 21, 2021 was the official release date. Currently, the trio is out gigging doing what we can to promote the CD, but like every other musician is experiencing, it has been slow booking live performances after the pandemic as clubs are cautiously re-opening. I have a couple of other ideas for future projects including a second trio album as well as developing some projects with other local musicians that I have worked with over the years. I’m even considering developing a recording with my twin brother, who has continued to stay involved with music over all these years.
The CD was conceived with my working trio in mind. Glennda Currence on the Hammond organ and Kirk Prebyl on drums make up the other two members of the trio. We have been friends for quite some time and have been working together now for over 10 years. I met Kirk years ago at a jazz jam and we have been friends ever since. Kirk spent most of his life playing music across the US. He spent quite a bit of time playing in clubs in New Orleans and around the Gulf Coast. He also spent some time out in Las Vegas and the west coast. Glennda is an accomplished saxophone and piano player. Actually, she started playing in our group as a piano player. I think I was the one that introduced her to the B3 organ and the sounds of Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Joey DeFrancesco, Bobby Floyd, and Tony Monaco. She fell in love with the sound and started to learn everything she could about the B3. Eventually, she started playing a Hamond XK-5 (signed by Bobby Floyd) with a Leslie 3300 on the gigs, and that has been the basis of our jazz organ trio sound over the past 4-5 years.
That’s an interesting question. I would say there is a balance of both. When I’m practicing, writing, or developing tunes, there is more intellect that goes into determining techniques, changes, melody, and what options are available for improvising. Eventually, once the foundation and form of a tune has been created, I tend to turn off the intellect part and push more toward the soul part during performance. It’s always my goal to connect with my instrument and try to recreate what I hear in my head or feel in my heart. It’s really all about communicating what’s in your soul to the audience. When the music is happening, or as they say, “when the bullets are flying”, there is no time for intellectual thinking.
Yes, I am always paying attention to how the audience is responding to the music and try to adjust accordingly. As a jazz artist, it is important to convey what I’m feeling through the music and always give 110% during a performance. I find most jazz audiences seem to respond well to that connection. Of course, if I’m playing a jazz gig and someone hollers “Free Bird”, I’m probably not going to play that tune. Unless… we maybe try it as a bossa nova…
I always love attending jam sessions. I was fortunate to join in on a jam session at the Blue Room in Kansas City, and that really kept me on my toes. There were some great players that night, and I really had to open my ears to make sure I was complimenting the music and not killing the groove. I had similar experiences at other jazz clubs in Houston, TX and Chicago, IL. It’s great to be part of something that is completely improvised and getting to play with musicians you are meeting for the first time.
I have played a handful of festivals and larger events as an opening act. These always require a certain amount of preparation and then you walk on stage, do your set, and then get out of the way for the next act. My first festival had about 40,000 people, so that was a tough day on the nerves. Fortunately, we were well prepared, and the show went without a hitch.
My favorite gigs are still smaller clubs where you are close to the audience, where you can really connect with people musically. There are a few local clubs that have a great atmosphere, great acoustics, and make for very inspiring performances.
They need to be exposed to jazz whenever & wherever possible. We are fortunate that schools still promote jazz bands and that the internet is such a wealth of information and exposure to the jazz masters online. Personally, I try to stay connected with the local school jazz programs wherever I can. I am also associated with a local Catfish Jazz Society that promotes the origins of Dixieland jazz, and provides scholarships for young jazz musicians. Before the pandemic, the jazz society promoted monthly jam sessions to draw in local student musicians to participate. We hope that things will open up again to allow these jam sessions to continue.
That’s a deep question. I do know that people talk about a musical high or “being in the zone” when everything is coming together, and the music is happening almost by magic. I have experienced that musical high and zone moments while playing. I guess it is like a spiritual experience. There is nothing better in the world than when those moments happen. It’s what continually draws me back to playing guitar and centers me. With so much controversy & negativity in the world today, music is the one joyful thing that is not biased, political, or negative. It’s an unwavering truth that you can believe and have faith in.
I would like to see an increase in live music support with many more live music venues in every city. Places where people can be exposed to great music and have opportunities to socialize and possibly participate in the music scene. If there was a higher demand for musicians, maybe people would put down their screens and start participating in what I consider the best part of life, which is making music.
I still listen to other jazz guitar players whenever I can. Especially the masters like Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Pat Martino, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, etc. Since I am still studying with Dave Stryker, I tend to listen to and study a lot of his tunes. (I consider him to be a master of jazz based blues.) It’s also typical for me to dial into an online or satellite jazz radio station, just to be exposed to a variety of players. I do find myself listening to some of the greats of my other favorite instruments, Hammond organ, piano, drums, & bass. I am more particular with horn players and only have a few that really inspire me.
Hopefully, people find some joy and excitement in my music. If they walk away humming one of my melodies, maybe I accomplished replacing a depressing or negative thought with something more positive that has lifted their spirits a bit.
There are so many of the masters that have passed on. It would be wonderful to maybe go back to Indiana when Wes Montgomery was playing local clubs so that I could meet him and respectfully shake his hand. And, if I was lucky, maybe get a chance to hang and play some tunes with him and the band.
You are clearly a true music enthusiast. I would like to know who inspires you and maybe what was your favorite or most inspiring interview?
The bottom line really is that music has always been a positive part of my life. It has been challenging sometimes, but it has never let me down. It inspires me when I hear someone who is great at their instrument. It makes me want to be better. Jazz musicians are forever students because it is a never-ending learning experience.
It was a privilege to share some of my musical history with you as part of this interview. Thanks again for supporting so many great artists and thanks for supporting my latest CD release of “Just Hangin Out”. It was an honor.
Best regards!!! Simon Sargsyan
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