Remembering Guitarist and Former NEC Faculty Member Mick Goodrick

The NEC community mourns the loss of Goodrick, a renowned teacher and acclaimed guitarist who passed away November 16, 2022.

Mick Goodrick Guitarist

A seminal jazz guitarist, Mick Goodrick was on faculty at NEC nearly 20 years and was a beloved mentor to countless students. 

“As a guitar teacher, Mick quite literally had no peer, teaching nearly all the top tier jazz guitar players studying in Boston since the 1960s,” says NEC guitar professor Norman Zocher, who first studied with Goodrick while a student at the school. “One of his lessons was to ‘ask not what the music can do for you, but what you can do for the music.’ This spirit of selflessness contributed to his reputation as the world’s finest guitar accompanist, and extended to improvisation where he’s recognized as the master of motivic development. He was also one of the funniest people you’d ever meet, and we’ll all smile when we remember his razor-sharp sense of humor.” 

NEC faculty member and vocalist Dominique Eade expressed gratitude and admiration for Goodrick’s work and legacy. “I was very lucky to meet Mick and begin playing with him not long after I moved to Boston,” she said. “The impact of his music, approach to the guitar, and dedication to learning and teaching cannot be quantified – and it will continue.”

Zocher also praised Goodrick’s generosity and empathy as a teacher: “He always knew the perfect thing to say when a student was in their darkest moment of artistic doubt.” Recalling an NEC clinic with John Scofield, Zocher described experiencing Goodrick’s seemingly telepathic abilities as a player. “Mick’s comping literally stopped the show because he knew what John was going to play before he played it.” Zocher said. “When you played with Mick, he would literally read your mind.”

Born in 1945, Goodrick picked up the guitar as a tween and was playing professional gigs by the time he was a teenager. He discovered jazz at 16 and subsequently enrolled at Berklee before becoming a touring performer then settling in Boston for a long and influential teaching career. Among his thousands of students and mentees are Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern, Nir Felder and Julian Lage. His books include “Creative Chordal Harmony for the Guitar,” the “Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading” series and, most notably, “The Advancing Guitarist.”

As a performer, he was a member of the Jerry Bergonzi Quartet, the Laszlo Gardony Quartet, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Greg Hopkins Big Band and the Steve Swallow Quartet. He also played with jazz greats including John Abercrombie, Jack DeJohnette, Gary Burton, Charlie Haden, Dave Liebman, Pat Metheny and Paul Motian.  He served on the NEC faculty from 1980–1998.

Photo courtesy of ECM Records

One of his lessons was to ‘ask not what the music can do for you, but what you can do for the music.’
NEC Jazz Faculty Norman Zocher on Mick Goodrick