Jazz Guitar Almanac

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The Jazz Guitar Almanac

January 2011

January 1, 2011    Saturday

Happy New Year!

“The dawn of a new era is at hand. Electrical amplification has given guitarists a new lease on life.”  [Charlie Christian]

Happy Birthday, Slim Gaillard! [1916]

Happy Birthday Sonny Greenwich!  [1936]

Tip of the day:  Learn all common voicings for guitar with all possible melody notes on top. This will greatly improve your ability to play chord melody solos.


January 2, 2011    Sunday

Happy Birthday, Curt Sheller!    [1954]

Happy Birthday, Judd Proctor!  [1923]

“When I was playing every night, there wasn’t enough room for me to play all the ideas in my head.”  [George Benson]

Tip of the day: Today’s stage band movement in high schools and colleges provides a great opportunity for young players. In conjunction with improvisation clinics this can be an important part of one’s musical development.


January 3, 2011    Monday

Happy Birthday, Eddie Lang! [1904]

Tip of the day: Solfeggio is the Italian term for a method of ear training in which the student sings the name of each note as he sings it. This system of instruction is beneficial as it helps the student internalize the music quickly.


January 4, 2011            Tuesday

Happy Birthday, John McLaughlin  [1942]

Tip of the day: Oxidation and changes in the uniformity of string diameter are the primary factors in string wear. Poor tone and bad intonation result. Monitor these factors and change strings accordingly.


January 5, 2011    Wednesday

“This music is never going to go away because a large number of our top young musicians always are attracted to jazz.” [Wynton Marsalis]

Tip of the day: Don’t overplay. Don’t allow your technique to stand in the way of the music. Learn to edit your playing. Silence is golden.


January 6, 2011    Thursday

“Keep listening. Never become so self important that you can’t listen to other players.” [John  Coltrane]

Happy Birthday, Jack Varney! [1918]

Tip of the day: Every room you play in is an acoustic space that can absorb only a certain level of sound pressure. Seek balance within the band and never overload the room with sound.


January 7, 2011    Friday

Happy Birthday, Al Bowlly!     [1899]

“The four ‘T’s’ [are] Time, Touch, Tone and Taste. Most of the players I seem to get the biggest thrill from have these pretty well covered” [Ted Greene]

Tip of the day: Latin rhythms have been borrowed by jazz musicians for many years resulting in some great musical hybrids. Jazz greats from Dizzy Gillespie to Wynton Marsalis have plowed this fertile ground.


January 8, 2011    Saturday

Happy Birthday, Margaret Slovak! [1962]

“Guitarists should be able to pick up the guitar and play music on it for an hour, without a rhythm section or anything.” [Joe Pass]

Tip of the Day: Many second or third year guitar students stop taking lessons after they have learned the half dozen chords necessary to cover most popular rock tunes. Don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap.


January 9, 2011    Sunday

Happy Birthday, Bucky Pizzarelli! [1926]

Tip of the day: It is easy to see why so many of today’s players have begun playing seven string guitars. The extra bass tones extend the instrument’s textures and harmonic possibilities enormously.


January 10, 2011   Monday

Happy Birthday, Mike Stern!  [1953]

Tip of the day: Our jazz legacy now dates back about 100 years. Take what you can from this rich history and look for ways to move the tradition  forward.


January 11, 2011   Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Bud Scott! [1890]

Tip of the day:  “Oh! , play that thing!!”     Bud Scott


January 12, 2011   Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Olu Dara!  [1941]

“I practice based on what my biggest problem is that day or that week. Whatever gives me problems, that goes to the top of the list. It changes from week to week”

 [Kenny Burrell]

Tip of the day: Fingernails are much more brittle and subject to breakage in cold weather. Be especially careful during the winter months if you play this way.


January 13, 2011   Thursday

Happy Birthday, Danny Barker!  [1909]

Happy Birthday, Joe Pass!  [1929]

Tip of the day: Today’s birthday boy really found his niche in 1974 when he began recording the “Virtuoso” series on Pablo records. To this day these recording set the standard for solo jazz guitar.


January 14, 2011   Friday

Happy Birthday, Nguyen Le! [1959]

Happy Birthday, Charles Bocage!  [1900]



Tip of the day:  Help make the world a better place: Support live music wherever and whenever you can.


January 15, 2011   Saturday

Happy Birthday,  Steve Jordan ! [1919]

Tip of the day:  The guitar strings may tend to buzz in the summertime due to “back bow”. In the winter the opposite will occur and the action may become unplayably high. Adjust the truss rod accordingly.


January 16, 2011   Sunday

“I think anything that separates guitar players from the rest of the music world is bad. Tablature is a certain secret code only for a guitar player. So you have guitar players who can read tablature and not music.”   [Peter Bernstein]

Tip of the day: A great way to get a sense of the living history of jazz is to read the musician’s interviews in jazz publications. Player’s insights and observations can make for amusing reading, too.


January 17, 2011   Monday

Happy Birthday, Ted Dunbar!  [1937]

Happy Birthday, Harry Reser! [1896]

Tip of the day: Today’s birthday boy has a beautiful liquid tone and a laid back unhurried way with a jazz chorus. His compositions are prominently featured on his solo albums.


January 18, 2011   Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Bobby Broom! [1961]

“George Van Eps did not actually invent unaccompanied solo jazz guitar. It just seems that way.” [Alan DeMause]

Tip of the day: Not playing every day can be your worst enemy. Your technical abilities and the mental process of improvisation will atrophy quickly if not exercised daily.


January 19, 2011   Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Sam Brown! [1939]

Tip of the day: A guitar that is played daily should be checked for fret wear annually. When flat spots develop show the guitar to a luthier. Often times frets can be polished down to a uniform, lower height forestalling the expense of fret replacement.


January 20, 2011   Thursday

Happy Birthday, Steve Rochinski! [1954]

Tip of the day: When playing with a pianist be prepared for give and take. Listen a lot. Don’t get in the way. Develop a telepathic rapport by always putting the music first. Stay humble.


January 21, 2011   Friday

Happy Birthday, Jesse Van Ruller!  [1972]

Happy Birthday, Smith Ballew!!   [1902]

Tip of the day: Parental Guidance Suggested! When listening to the work of second-generation guitarists like Joe Cohn and John Pizzarelli it is easy to appreciate the benefits of having grown up in a musical household.


January 22, 2011   Saturday

“Johnny Smith was one of the people who made me play the guitar. It was the Moonlight in Vermont record. I wore that record out.”  [Jimmy Bruno]

Tip of the day:  Melody has been defined as a meaningful sequence of tones. This seems vague and is considered controversial by some, yet the very nature of melody seems to justify a broad definition.


January 23, 2011   Sunday

Happy Birthday, Django Reinhardt ! [1910]

Happy Birthday Fapy Lafertin! [1950]

Tip of the day: Let your philosophy be one of hard work and dedication. Let the passion you have for music propel your playing to ever-greater heights.


January 24, 2011   Monday

“Jazz guitar is an art form that is very now. What you’re playing now is what counts.” [Frank Vignola]

Tip of the day:  Rhythm has to do with the sequence of beats. Meter results from imposing a pattern of accents upon the flow of the beats.


January 25, 2011   Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Floyd Smith! [1917]

Happy Birthday,  Jimmy Wyble ! [1922]

Happy Birthday, Antonio Carlos Jobim ! [1927]

   [Jobim is seen here with Frank Sinatra.]

Tip of the day:  Anton Carlos Jobim has had an enormous and far reaching influence on the American jazz style. After composing Desifinado in 1957 he solidified his international reputation by collaborating with Luiz Bonfa on the score to the film Black Orpheus in 1959.


January 26, 2011   Wednesday

“The guitar is a great instrument; it allows for a lot of different types of expression and a lot of different styles of jazz.”  [Randy Johnston]

Tip of the day: The beautiful sound of an archtop guitar may need a little help. The purpose of amplification is to make the guitar more audible. Electronic devices that add distortion, delay or other sound effects are not part of the jazz tradition.


January 27, 2011   Thursday

“Known primarily as the greatest jazz guitarist of his time, Tal Farlow’s  solo guitar work on ballads was the epitome of good taste.” [Tony Mottola]

Tip of the day:  Your goal is to make the music sound good. Sometimes this means playing with great economy or not at all.


January 28, 2011   Friday

Happy Birthday, Henry Johnson! [1954]

Happy Birthday Fareed Haque!! [1963]

Tip of the day: MIDI sequences are sometimes used in rock music as part of a live performance. Because this tends to eliminate the interplay among musicians on the bandstand, jazz players have avoided this practice.


January 29, 2011   Saturday

Happy Birthday, Ulysses  Livingston ! [1912]

Happy Birthday,  Derek Bailey! [1932]

Happy Birthday, Sacha Distel !   [1933]

Happy Birthday, Franco Cerri!  [1926]

Tip of the day: Practicing first thing in the morning is generally quite productive. A clear and rested mind is a wonderful thing.


January 30, 2011   Sunday

“I put a lot of emphasis on melody. I don’t like complexity for complexity’s sake.”  [Russell Malone]

Tip of the day: Relative pitch is the ability to identify a pitch relative to another pitch. This is one of the fundamental skills of musicianship and developing it will allow you to identify intervals, chords and melodic lines.


January 31, 2011   Monday

Happy Birthday, Emmanuel “Manny” Sayles! [1907]

Happy Birthday, Bobby Hackett!   [1915]

Tip of the day:  One definition of jazz uses the three-legged stool analogy. Three legs of swing, improvisation and tradition are required to support the definition. If one or even two legs are sawed off the definition still stands, but if a leg or two is removed you have something other than a stool.


The dilettante practices until he gets it right. The maestro practices until he can’t get it wrong.


The Jazz Guitar Almanac

is published in monthly installments

on the first of each month.

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