Jazz Guitar Almanac

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The Jazz Guitar Almanac

February 2017

February 1, 2016 Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Gianfranco Continenza! [1968]

Happy Birthday,  Mark Stefani!!   [1951]

Tip of the day: If you fail to learn to read music you are limiting your options. Lots of music is easier to learn by reading it rather than trying to pick it up by ear.


February 2, 2016 Thursday

Happy Birthday,  Tony Gottuso !  [1917]

Happy Birthday, Blood Ulmer! [1942]

Happy Birthday, Louis Keppard! [1888]

Happy Birthday Bob DeVos!! [19??]

Tip of the day: Chords built on 4ths and 11ths can breath life and modernity into conventional harmonic progressions. When moved up and down the neck chromatically they imply polytonality.


February 3, 2016   Friday

Tip of the day: Jazz albums are often best recorded live or live in the studio. Multitrack recording can rob the music of the interactions among the musicians that give the music its immediacy.


February 4, 2016   Saturday

Happy Birthday, Maurice J. Summerfield!!     [1940]

Tip of the day: The once vibrant and robust style called “fusion” that featured guitarists like McLaughlin and Coryell seemed to lose it’s momentum after an initial flurry of activity. If you go there today, you’ll find there is no “there” there.


February 5, 2016   Sunday

Happy Birthday, Steve Cardenas! [1959]

Tip of the day: Joe Pass taught a method of harmonic simplification for jazz guitar improvisation. He identified three chord groups only:  major, minor and dominant. Augmented and diminished chords were included with dominant due to the flat seventh.


February 6, 2016   Monday

Happy Birthday,  John Pisano!  [1931]

Happy Birthday, Roy Smeck!   [1900]

Tip of the day: Find a big band to join. The music and the camaraderie are great and it will improve your sight-reading.


February 7, 2016   Tuesday

Happy Birthday,  Ray Crawford!   [1924]

Happy Birthday, Barry Zweig!   [1942]

“Everybody has to learn certain things, but when you play, the intellectual process no longer has anything to do with it.”  [Bill Evans]

Tip of the day: A major chord consists of a major triad [1-3-5], a major seventh and color tones [6,9,11,13]. It’s symbol is M, maj,  or triangle.

February 8, 2015   Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Lonnie Johnson!  [1889]

Happy Birthday, Gene Lees! [1928]

Tip of the day:  Learn to identify the most common guitar chords by ear. Work with another guitarist to develop this skill.


February 9, 2016   Thursday

Tip of the day: When preparing to kick off a tempo for the band try to hear internally the shortest note values in the piece. This can help you avoid counting it off too fast.


February 10, 2016  Friday

Happy Birthday, Perry Lopez!     [1924]

Happy Birthday, Frank Potenza! [1950]

Happy Birthday,Leroy Kirkland! [1906]


Tip of the day:  The Dominant/Tonic or V7/I cadence is central to Western music. From Bach to Gershwin to Coltrane to Metheny there is no escaping it. This is the very core of our harmonic language.


February 11, 2016  Saturday

Happy Birthday, Russ Freeman!    [1960]

Tip of the day: Jazz is sometimes a triangle and sometimes a square. It can rest upon its tradition, it’s swing or it’s improvisational qualities.


February 12, 2016  Sunday

Tip of the day: Although relative pitch can be learned, perfect pitch is very difficult or impossible to acquire. Many people believe that the ability to name a pitch after merely hearing it is something one is born with.


February 13, 2016  Monday

Happy Birthday, Joe Carter!  [??????]

Happy Birthday, Brad Shepik!!  [1966]

Tip of the day:  Frank Mantooth and Tom Kubis are big band arrangers who write great guitar parts. Their parts are well thought out, very playable and full of rich harmonies. Don’t pass up the chance to play their charts.


February 14, 2016  Tuesday

Tip of the day: Along with the obvious My Funny Valentine, I Love You and I’ve Got a Crush on You should go over well tonight.


February 15, 2016  Wednesday

Tip of the day:  Wind new strings tightly around the pegs being careful not to overlap them before feeding the string’s end through the peg opening. This insures uniform pull on the string when tuning machines are adjusted.


February 16, 2016  Thursday

Tip of the day: Trim newly installed strings closely and turn the trimmed end downward slightly. This will prevent the string end from tearing up the inside of your gig bag.


February 17, 2016  Friday

Tip of the day: The end of a guitar string can be as sharp as a needle. As you change strings be careful not to stab yourself as this could prevent you from playing and hurt like crazy.


February 18, 2016  Saturday

Tip of the day: When transporting your amplifier make sure it is loaded in such a way that it cannot topple over in transit. A cracked solder joint can result from such an impact. This can render the amp inoperable.


February 19, 2016  Sunday

Tip of the day:  Many guitarists find a home multitrack recorder to be a valuable tool for songwriting and the creation of demo tapes. They are generally easy to use and the sound quality is surprisingly good.


February 20, 2016  Monday

Happy Birthday, Oscar Aleman!  [1909]

Tip of the day: Exploring guitar voicings on the piano will give you new insights into the nature of harmony. Just for fun, try holding a piano chord with the sustain pedal while arpeggiating it on guitar.


February 21, 2016  Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Eddie De Haas! [1930]

Tip of the day: Economy of motion is primarily the avoidance of unnecessary, superfluous and awkward hand and finger movement. It is central to good technique on a musical instrument.


February 22, 2016  Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Claude Williams! [1908]

Happy Birthday, Napoleon "Snags" Allen!          [1915]

     [ Allen is seen here with Dizzy Gillespie.]

Tip of the day:  The “trapeze” tailpiece featured on whammy bar guitars is inherently unstable and fraught with intonation problems. These guitars are occasionally used for jazz and sound best when a stud tailpiece is installed.


February 23, 2016  Thursday

Tip of the day: Many guitarists find that the ability to double on electric bass guitar is not difficult to develop. This skill may even make you a few dollars at some point.


February 24, 2016  Friday

Tip of the day:  Pop singers sometimes want to incorporate jazz guitar sounds into their acts. Pat Metheny backed Joni Mitchell and Kenny Burrell backed the Shirells.


February 25, 2016  Saturday

Happy Birthday,  Ryo Kawasaki!     [1947]

Happy Birthday, Rene Thomas!       [1927]

Tip of the day: Frank Sinatra’s longtime guitarist Al Viola brought a jazz sensibility and swing to Old Blue Eyes’ music. Things really got confusing though in 1995 when Sinatra toured Europe with guitarist Al Ciola.


February 26, 2016  Sunday

Tip of the day: One of the golden rules of arranging is to be sure that all parts lie easily under the fingers. An unsatisfactory and unbeautiful performance can result if parts are very difficult to execute.


February 27, 2016  Monday

Happy Birthday, Chuck Wayne! [1923]

Tip of the day: Today’s birthday boy was part of the legendary and frequently imitated piano, vibes, and guitar frontline of the original George Shearing Quintet.


February 28, 2016  Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Pierre Dorge!    [1946]

Happy Birthday, Marty Grosz!     [1930]

Tip of the day: A direct box is usually better than a microphone when you have to play your amp through a PA system. Simple to connect and set up, the box will also give the engineer a your discreet signal to work with.



The Jazz Guitar Almanac

is published in monthly installments

on the first of each month.

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