We literally could hear a pin drop, when Laurence Juber, two-time Grammy Award Winner, and former Lead Guitarist of Paul McCartney and Wings (1978-81), gave a fascinating, entertaining, and educational Master Class on October 9, 2014 at Canyon Crest Academy (CCA) in Carmel Valley, San Diego. This event was sponsored by the Canyon Crest Academy Foundation and CCA Envision Performing Arts Program.
The master class embodied the mission of CCA: “to enrich the experiences of each student,every day”. Students and parents were invited to the CCA Proscenium Theatre after the school day ended. Mr. Juber enlightened the crowd with anecdotes about his early life, education, and musical journey. He also played quite a few well-known tunes, including “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Live and Let Die” and acoustic tunes such as “Mosaic” and “Guitar Noir” flawlessly. Between his stories and songs, he kindly answered a variety of questions from the students.
Not only is Juber a rock musician, solo guitarist, and recording artist, he’s also an accomplished composer of over 160 songs, as well as an arranger. He won the “Fingerstyle Guitarist Player of the Year” Award in 2000. (Fingerstyle as in playing guitar without a pick)!
An an award-winning studio musician Juber has been a featured musician in many films, TV shows and video games. He’s performed with three of the four Beatles, (Paul, Ringo and George)…It was a poignant moment indeed when Juber mentioned that October 9th would have been John Lennon’s 74th birthday.
Juber delighted the audience and traced the beginnings of his musical virtuosity with anecdotes. Laurence began playing guitar in November, 1963 at the tender age of 11 during “Beatlemania”. According to Juber, “L.J”. as he’s called, this was a “remarkable musical renaissance period” where new “twangy” guitar sounds were being explored after the late 1950’s “vanilla” guitar pop. Juber admired The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix and was mesmerized with sounds in the “James Bond” movies.
During his teenage years the guitar was thought of as a “hooligan” instrument, not an “orchestral” instrument. Juber learned sight-reading from a “Play in a Day” instruction book which included the musical notes for “When the Saints Go Marching In”. He mentioned that he had lots of time to learn guitar, since “it rained a lot” in London and he was often “stuck in his room”. He would listen to the Top 40 American songs on his transistor radio and listen to vinyl records that were 33 r.p.m. and 16 r.p.m. Back then, the classical guitar was like an “orchestral step-child”…yet he realized his burning ambition that he could one day become a studio musician and earn money.
It was a post-war, baby boom with “battalions of hormonal enamored teenage girls”. Juber’s musical influences were listening to Radio Luxenborg, pre-BBC, as well as American Top 40 where some of his favorites were Motown R & B and Carol King.
November, 1966 was the making of the Beatles “Strawberry Fields”. Juber spoke about this transition from the “pop” to “psychedelic” era symbolizing the “awakening of musical possibilities and record making”. There were new “backward studio tricks” in music. For instance, a B flat is a bit faster, and an A is a little bit slower. He described how George Martin would make the “slow-fast” and the “fast-slow”. There was also more “texture” and not the normal “classical” sound of cellos. The mellotron was a synthesized keyboard. Then came the advent of 4 tracks which evolved in to 8, then 16, then 24 tracks.
Juber then spoke of the differences between Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Paul was more of “an artisan…a crafter of melodies and a fabulous singer as well”. John was a true artist, visually and musically and also a poet who was passionate with rock and rhythm and blues.
Juber spoke about the fact that the B flat is not your typical guitar key. As an arranger he attempts to find the nexus of music and guitar.
In his earlier musician days, Juber got his start playing what he called, numerous “chicken dinner’ events, like weekend weddings, Barmitzvahs, colleges and corporate events. All of this “sharpened his ear”.
He was a featured soloist in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. He studied and obtained his music degree at London University’s Goldsmith College where he learned to be a “big band-trained studio musician”. As “target practice”, Juber performed with the 20th Century Chamber Ensemble, was guitarist for “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Royal Albert Hall in the West End of London and performed under Berlin Philharmonic Conductor Simon Rattle.
In 1977 Juber played lead guitar on the David Essex TV show where one of the Wings, Denny Laine (also of early Moody Blues fame) was a guest. Denny was the catalyst for Juber to audition for Paul McCartney and Wings. He also related a chance meeting with Sir Paul who was washing his hands in a rest room in England. He auditioned for Wings “winging it” as a “well prepped, versatile, sober musician”. Juber’s time with Wings earned him his “McCartney Masters Degree”.
Juber spoke about many of his influences, such as the “James Bond” movie scores, and where styles are “cross fertilized” like the Fahrenheit 451 score by Bernard Herman, where furious cellos drive the score. He spoke of Andy Summers having trouble with the guitar song “Every Breath You Take” by Sting (The Police) and how the group was influenced by Bela Bartok. He mentioned that he saw Jimi Hendrix play “Little Wing” twice at Albert Hall, and then played there himself. Juber played guitar for Dirty Dancing‘s “She’s Like the Wind” and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”.
Juber professed that “variety is his favorite style of music, a bit of everything”. He is on the soundtrack of “Colors of the Wind” from the Disney film “Pocahontas” is featured on the soundtrack of “Home Improvement” has played banjo wth Kermit the Frog on “Sesame Street”.
Juber spoke about his guitar made of rare Brazilian Rosewood and not being able to take it out of the country. And how the precious yet limited ivory from elephants is affecting the production of guitar string bindings and piano keys.
And then, the magical master class ended, because Juber’s next gig that evening was at the “Museum of Making Music” in Carlsbad. Everyone applauded and gave a standing ovation and recognized this humble musician of many talents. Find out more about Laurence Juber at http://www.laurencejuber.com/
Canyon Crest Academy delivers not only an outstanding education but has the unique Envision arts program supported by donation dollars. Envision utilizes working artists as instructors. These professional artists work with the visual and performing arts students to deliver an outstanding arts experience at a professional level. CCA’s theater program has won numerous awards and recognition. Performances are known as above and beyond a ‘high school theater show’. The Canyon Crest Academy Foundation is a parent-led 501(c)(3) organization providing fantastic opportunities across academics, athletics, and the arts, and creating an environment where students can thrive. The mission of CCA and CCAF is to “enrich the experience of every student, every day”. Your tax-deductible donation to the CCA Foundation is vitally needed to continue our support of these programs. You can donate online at www.canyoncrestfoundation.org.
Gallery of Images of Laurence Juber by Susan Farese, SJF Communications, October 9, 2014