Home of the Jazz Guitar Almanac

The Jazz Guitar Almanac

November   2014

November 1, 2014   Saturday

Happy Birthday, Lee Ritenour!            [1952]

Tip of the day: Today’s birthday boy offered homage to the great Wes Montgomery when he completed his album “Wes Bound” in 1993.


November 2, 2014   Sunday

Happy Birthday, Jim Mullen!  [1945]

Tip of the day: One of the most ubiquitous formulas in music is the ii-V7-I progression. Nearly all jazz and pop tunes feature this sound in one form or another. The importance of the ability of the jazz musician to handle these changes is impossible to overstate.


November 3, 2014   Monday

Tip of the day: Beware the session lead by a drummer. Since he will not be playing melody or chord changes he may call some tunes that are not well known to the rest of the group. This may result in some pleasant surprises, but be careful.


November 4, 2014   Tuesday

Tip of the day: Beginners should practice for 15 or 20 minutes twice a day. Over practicing can result in sore fingers.


November 5, 2014   Wednesday

Tip of the day: Don’t be fooled into thinking that some sort of audio processor is the key to a great sound. A great sound is something money can’t buy. It’s under your fingers.


November 6, 2014   Thursday

Tip of the day: A turnaround is a two bar progression consisting of four chords. It is frequently heard as the last two bars of a blues or AABA form when proceeding into another chorus. This gives the form definition and provides for a harmonic release.


November 7, 2014   Friday

Tip of the day: Learning to play the head of a new tune can be made easier if you  learn to sing it first. Choose scat syllables that emphasize the inflections and articulations on a favorite recording as a way of locking into the melody’s phrasing and swing.


November 8, 2014   Saturday

Happy Birthday, Russell Malone! [1963]

Happy Birthday,  Dale  Bruning!      [1934]

Tip of the day: Play solo chord melodies with modulations to provide the listener with a variety of tonal perspectives.


November 9, 2014   Sunday

Happy Birthday,  Malcolm Mitchell! [1926]

Tip of the day: Every jazzman plays the blues. Make a list of blues heads and other tunes that are based on modifications of the form for practice and performance.


November 10, 2014  Monday

Tip of the day: Read chord symbols in the context of the key signature. This is especially necessary if the music is poorly copied or obscure in some other way.


November 11, 2014  Tuesday

Happy Birthday,  Hank Garland! [1930]

Tip of the day: Chord substitutions relieve the monotony of endless repetition, create differing harmonic textures and introduce various tensions into the music. A good soloist listens closely to the substitutions the accompanist is feeding him.


November 12, 2014  Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Thorgeir Stubo!  [1943]

Tip of the day: Experiment with different picks. Each design will give a slightly different timbre and texture. Thin gauges give an interesting feeling to strummed rhythms while heavy picks give a prominent attack to the melodic line.


November 13, 2014  Thursday

Happy Birthday, Chris Flory!!    [1954]

“Try to play with players who are better than you. You get the best education in jazz on the bandstand.”  [Frank Vignola]

Tip of the day: If your strings go “poink, poink “ as you tune up, rub a pencil against the edge of a matchbook and then run the edge through the grooves in the nut.


November 14, 2014  Friday

Happy Birthday, Billy Bauer! [1915]

Tip of the day: In addition to having been a poll winning jazz guitarist in the late 1940’s today’s birthday boy performed extensively as a circus musician.


November 15, 2014  Saturday

Happy Birthday, Kevin Eubanks! [1957]

Tip of the day: Before becoming a fixture on late night television, today’s birthday boy recorded a series of under appreciated jazz guitar albums. “Spirit Talk” and “Live at Bradley’s” contain some of his best work.


November 16, 2014  Sunday

Happy Birthday, Eddie Condon!  [1904]

Tip of the day: Be a list maker. Keep lists of chord melody solos, tunes with which you are familiar, and even the set lists from leaders you work with. This helps a lot when preparing for an upcoming performance.


November 17, 2014  Monday

“Bix took out a silver cornet and placed it to his lips. The sound came out like a girl saying yes. At last I was playing music; as far as I was concerned it could go on forever.” [Eddie Condon]

Tip of the day: A minor chord is symbolized by -, min or m and consists of a minor triad [1-b3-5], a minor seventh and color tones [6,9,11,13]. A-11 is therefore spelled A-C-E-G-D.


November 18, 2014  Tuesday

Tip of the day: When attending a jam session, introduce yourself to the host and ask to sit in. He will call you to the stand when he is ready for you. Call a familiar tune, keep solos reasonably short, and when in doubt, lay out.


November 19, 2014  Wednesday

“If it hadn’t been for him, there wouldn’t have been none of us. I want to thank Mr. Louis Armstrong for my livelihood.” [Dizzy Gillespie]

Tip of the day: Standard jazz tunes like “Donna Lee” or “Evidence” are examples of original melodies set to pre-existing popular chord progressions. Conversely, reharmonization is the insertion of fresh chord changes behind a familiar melody.


November 20, 2014  Thursday

Happy Birthday, Skeeter Best!  [1914]

Tip of the day: Your guitar will play and sound it’s best when the strings are dry and clean. Wash and dry your hands before playing and always clean the strings before putting the instrument away.


November 21, 2014  Friday

Happy Birthday, Sal Salvador!  [1925]

Happy Birthday, Robert Conti!  [1945]

       [Conti is seen here with Nick Brignola.]

Tip of the day: The purpose of a rehearsal is to bring the parts together into a cohesive ensemble sound. If possible, become familiar with your part ahead of time.


November 22, 2014  Saturday

“I only know two songs; one is the blues, the other isn’t”     [Mose Allison]

Tip of the day: Don’t be a turkey and forget to ham it up after today’s feasting, get the guitar out and keep the festivities rolling with a song or two; your guests will be ever so thankful.


November 23, 2014  Sunday

Happy Birthday, Jean-Paul Bourelly! [1960]

Happy Birthday, Jack Marshall !  [1921]

Tip of the day: For some, a great technique can be more of a hindrance than a help. Standard melodies got that way because they are perfect, concise and beautiful. Don’t allow your technique to get in the way of your melodic statement by overplaying.


November 24, 2014  Monday

Tip of the day: The stylistic choices we make are the big ones. Choose with great care as you will be defined and identified accordingly.


November 25, 2014  Tuesday

Tip of the day: If you are leading a pickup group for a casual gig try to stay in the mainstream of the repertoire. As much as you would like to stretch out on some new and challenging material, remember that jazz standards will generally be best suited to such a situation.


November 26, 2014  Wednesday

Tip of the day: In one view the emotional response to music is conditioned by the common knowledge of musical norms between player and listener. Is this why “Sweet Georgia Brown” sounds happy and “You Don’t Know What Love Is” sounds sad?


November 27, 2014  Thursday

Happy Birthday, Papa John Joseph! [1877]

Happy Birthday, Mitch Seidman! [1953]

Tip of the day: “Freedom Jazz Dance” by Eddie Harris is an interesting tune on the guitar due to its frequent use of the perfect fourth. This resonates in some way with the instrument’s architecture and necessitates playing across the neck. May the fourths be with you.


November 28, 2014  Friday

Tip of the day: Products that are designed to be sprayed upon the guitar strings claim to facilitate fingering in some fashion but are of dubious value. Be very careful with this stuff as some such products are flammable.


November 29, 2014  Saturday

Happy Birthday, Ed Bickert!  [1932]

Happy Birthday, Ronny Jordan!  [1962]

Tip of the day:  Tape record yourself in a variety of playing situations. Listening to these tapes can be a revelation and very instructive too.


November 30, 2014  Sunday

Tip of the day: The Lochrian mode is a “white note” scale from B to B that features a b5. The Super Lochrian scale features the addition of a b4.

The Jazz Guitar Almanac

is published in monthly installments

on the first of each month.

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