A revealing interview with Teddy.
Teddy Pantelas: the art of jazz and other extremities
By Jason Busse
Jan. 26, 1999
At the musical studio of Teddy Pantelas, otherwise known as
his humble living abode -- simplicity, simplicity, simplicity
overcomes the environment. Only the bare essentials. In the corner
of his dining room is a computer, while the center of the room
contains a large dining table. In the living room, a large built-in
bookcase surrounds an unused fireplace. The bookcase is swarming
with books about music and the imagination. The other side contains
a vast sea of compact discs. A small stereo sits on top of the
fireplace. Teddy casually strolls over to the sofa, opposite of
the fireplace. Looking around the walls of the room allows one's
eyes to absorb the beautiful artwork hanging on the walls. An
expressionist painting of a guitarist hangs on one side of the
wall while a large Chinese painting hangs on the other, done in
red and black. All a perfect expression of the humble, artistic
Sitting down, one feels the warmth of love in the air as Teddy turns with his welcoming smile. As the discussion of jazz and Teddy's relation to it begins, he is prepared to offer his understanding upon jazz and other extremities. You see, Teddy is a timeless being, nonexistent of age, at least that is what he believes. He begins speaking about the ageless art of jazz. Teddy believes that jazz is a kind of music that never stops growing because of the art of expressionism. He states that you never stay at one level -- it is always progressive. Indeed, the element of progression takes on a golden glow when seen in an original form of jazz.
When Teddy sits on his wooden stool and plays with zeal and intensity nothing is running through his mind. "I try to go with what my heart feels at that moment and try to get passed thinking," he declares with an excitement known only to beings of complete, artistic growth. He analyzes the art of jazz as a oneness that happens when all the musicians art together in a harmonious connection.
Writing music is Teddy's thing, not just playing music. Teddy pronounces, "music that I write is an expression of the time that we are living in. It is a reflection of all the music that I have listened to -- aside from jazz . . . such as the Beatles, Pat Methany, etc." It appears that his style has evolved from the energies of his mind, in sync, with the tune of his ears. Teddy will tell you himself that the purist form of music is to write and create, not just play others' music.
When playing, Teddy always asks this question of his listeners -- "What do you think?" He states that some people say that they don't understand the music, but it makes them smile and they get a good vibe from it. "I tell them that they are getting what they are supposed to be getting. If you can feel the music in a positive way, that's what I'm trying to give off," Teddy emphasizes with a smile on his face and a bright glow reverberating from his aura.
Matt Petrarca, a guitar student and avid listener of the music of Teddy Pantelas, exclaims, "when I first saw Teddy play, I was confused if it was jazz, blues, or some hybrid that he created. It was almost shameful to tell anyone that I played or tried to play guitar after I watched Teddy. Then, I started to learn about music and life from this positive being. That shame and despair turned into hope and realization. I realized that he was blessed with, not only, a good ear and some ability, but also, with a huge heart full of desire and passion. And, that is why he is one of few guitar masters -- because of his
willingness and passion to always practice and learn about guitar, music, and life."
The Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus states, as one of the definitions of jazz, that it means to make more interesting. To enliven. To hear the beautiful melodies of Teddy, one would feel enlivened while he taps out the most interesting art of the Youngstown area. With that, Teddy stands up to part his way. Glancing at the wall, one notices a Far Side comic on the wall that pokes fun at a homeless, street musician being scolded by his childhood music teacher, since he failed to practice his scales and methods. Teddy smiles with the knowledge of an artist and graciously expunges, " Peace and love."
n Teddy plays at Cedar's Lounge in downtown Youngstown every Tuesday night.
1. Teddy Pantelas, musician
2. Matt Petrarca, student of music
3. The Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus. Oxford University Press: New York; 1996, p. 804.