Amancio was a major inspiration to me as to many others. I met him at Jenako Arts Centre where he taught jazz guitar. I used to go there to practise. First time I met him he came into the room, I was playing Ornithology, the day had turned to evening, he said “Ah that’s a good sign, practising in the dark!” (a great teacher, always encouraging, inspiring!) – and invited me to bring the trumpet along to his guitar class. Seemed an odd idea but he said it would be good so I started going: me on muted trumpet and 14 acoustic guitarists all chugging along on Ornithology!
He’d get each person to solo in turn and personally accompany with gradually more outrageous re-harmonisations, pushing each one of us to use our ears and play ‘off the seat of our pants’ and go beyond using stock phrases. He could hear and gauge just how far he could push each person… He had this concept of ‘walking chords’ (I think maybe Lennie Tristano had developed it first?) where the voicings could change on every beat, within a standard chord sequence, giving much greater harmonic freedom, e.g. moving out of key and back in by parallel movement and suchlike. It was all about using ones ears.
In the class at Jenako, all this music counterbalanced with his own spontaneous mix of humour, insight and instant philosophising… Later on when Jenako closed we continued with smaller such sessions at his home. We recorded some things on cassette, and did one or two little gigs… I am eternally grateful to this man, from whom I learnt so much.
Loz Speyer is a London based trumpeter and composer, leading his own groups Time Zone and Inner Space Music, playing in others, teaching and running workshops. www.lozspeyer.com