Jazz Guitar Almanac

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The Jazz Guitar Almanac

April  2018

April 1, 2018 Sunday

Tip of the day: Earl Klugh’s wonderful solo rendition of the under appreciated Burt Bacharach tune “The April Fools” is certainly worth a listen today.


April 2, 2018 Monday

Happy Birthday , Larry Coryell! [1943]

Tip of the day: The eclectic Mr. Coryell recorded and performed jazz, rock, fusion, classical, and even vocals. His discography is a study in contrast.

April 3, 2018 Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Paul Abler!! [1957]

Tip of the day: Art is expression. Expression that says something about what it means to be alive. This expression is perceived and experienced in the subjective terms of the beholder who may then in turn express some opinion as to the effect that the work had on him when he first took it in. After you have heard music, seen a play, read a book, or whatever; you can go ahead and express your pleasure, displeasure, indifference, etc. Have at it; everybody else does.

April 4, 2018 Wednesday

Tip of the day: You may be called upon to cover a host of “spring” songs. Brush up on Joy Spring, Spring is Here, Up Jumped Spring, Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year, and Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most.

April 5, 2018 Thursday

Happy Birthday, Jerome Harris! [1953]

Tip of the day: Part of what made has the "Kind of Blue" album such a big seller over the years is the accessibility of the listening experience. It's a very easy album to listen to because it is harmonically consonant without a lot of tension or intensity. The mood it strikes is very easy and relaxed. Even listeners who are new to jazz can wrap their minds around what is going on with this music.

April 6, 2018 Friday

Happy Birthday, Gene Bertoncini! [1937]

   [Bertoncini is seen here with guitarist Joe Finn.]

Happy Birthday, John Pizzarelli! [1960]

Tip of the day: The arts in general continue to represent the pinnacle of human civilization. As musicians and instructors our mission continues to be to move this idea forward. We're involved in music because we think it's important. I myself don't pretend to be objective about this sort of thing.

April 7, 2018 Saturday

Tip of the day: Don’t get “fooled” this month. Brush up on the appropriate repertoire: I’ll Remember April, April in Paris, Half of April Most of May, and April Showers are good examples.

April 8, 2018 Sunday

Happy Birthday, Phil Lee!! [1943]

Tip of the day: The thumb, pick, and fingernails all produce different sounds. Learning to “palm” a pick will allow you to access these colors while smoothing the transition from fingers to pick.

April 9, 2018 Monday

Happy Birthday, Al Gafa! [1941]

Tip of the day: If we love jazz, we need to advocate for its preservation and growth. We need to be optimistic and enthusiastic about this! If we don't take responsibility for this who will?

April 10, 2018 Tuesday

Happy Birthday, George Freeman! [1927]

Happy Birthday, Tom Giacabetti! [?]

Tip of the day: I remember “sitting in” when I was a teenager. I only knew four songs: Green Dolphin Street, Autumn Leaves, Rhythm changes and blues. After that I was screwed. The ensuing shame and embarrassment gave me the motivation to work hard on developing repertoire and chops. This is the foundation of your confidence as a performer.


April 11, 2018 Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Ralph Blaze! [1922]

Happy Birthday, Dave Wilborn! [1904]

   [Wilborn was a member of “McKinny’s Cotton Pickers.]

Tip of the day: Virtuosity has great value in jazz but it's not the primary focus. Players like Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis are legendary figures in the history of jazz but not because they were considered virtuosi. Jazz is an innovative, improvisational style, We tend to place the highest value on freshness of perspective and originality.

April 12, 2018 Thursday

Happy Birthday, Dave Mosick!! [1967]

Tip of the day: One of the big benefits of transcription is ear training. Work on being able to hear longer note values and simpler passages at first. In time you will be hearing more complex, faster passages. It is a developmental process. Don't try to circumvent this with anything that slows the music down, etc. There are no shortcuts.

April 13, 2018 Friday

Happy Birthday, Thom Rotella! [1951]

Tip of the day: I play solo gigs regularly. My list for solo guitar has about 100 titles on it but you wouldn't play that many tunes on a gig. I like to have the titles written down because it's more than I can remember. You might go through as many as twenty songs in a hour though. My solo stuff is all done from memory and I never use any charts.

April 14, 2018 Saturday

Happy Birthday, Bill Harris! [1925]

Tip of the day: How can a guitarist establish himself in New York City, the center of the jazz universe? He must be, to everyone who hears him, a player of superior, transcendent ability. This is the only way.

April 15, 2018 Sunday

Happy Birthday, Bernard Addison! [1905]

Happy Birthday, Joe Sodja! [1911]

Tip of the day: Jazz guitarists who want to make a lot of money may be in the wrong business. Since it is Income Tax Day, you at least don’t have to worry about being in a high tax bracket.

April 16, 2018 Monday

Happy Birthday , Tony Rizzi! [1923]

Happy Birthday , Ulf Wakenius! [1958]

Tip of the day: One of the problems with playing all the time is that you can get into a rut. If you are playing a show or something you can get into a situation where you just put things on "automatic pilot", and stop thinking about what you are playing. The mental exhaustion that sets in when you play all the time can be remedied by attending a live performance of some kind. This really opens your ears and refreshes the mind!

April 17, 2018 Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Johnny St. Cyr! [1890]

Tip of the day: Many younger players and students have been exposed to all kinds of seductive pop music and do not have a handle on the jazz syntax or it's tradition. There is only one way to get steeped in the jazz style. You've got to listen to it and live it. You've got to breathe it and eat it and sleep it. You've got to love jazz without reservation. You'll also have to get used to the idea that certain other things in your life will have to take a back seat because the music is the priority.

April 18, 2018 Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Tony Mottola! [1918]

Tip of the day: I took a half dozen survey courses in college that covered various periods of music history. These were not easy for me because I didn't have the listening or performance background in Opera, Baroque, Romantic, etc. I grew up listening to jazz but I had a good ear and did the best I could. The tests involved a needle drop into the middle of a piece from a list of required listening material. We would have to identify the piece, the composer and the section.

April 19, 2018 Thursday

“To play great music you must keep your eyes on a distant star” [Yehudi Mennhin]

Tip of the day: As Mennhin metaphorically observes, music is a lifetime endeavor in which it is vital to become centered and stay focused.

April 20, 2018 Friday

Happy Birthday, Issi Rozen! [1971]

Tip of the day: If you stick with music long enough you will someday have to learn to successfully cope with the audition process. You will have to practice hard to get your playing to a high level. The emotional challenge is also considerable as the process is very stressful.

April 21, 2018 Saturday

Happy Birthday, Mundell Lowe! [1922]

Tip of the day: As an instructor I have had students who have gone on to graduate degrees and careers in music. I have also had students who never showed up for the second lesson. All the instructor can do is open the door. It is the student himself who makes the decision to move forward or walk away.

April 22, 2018 Sunday

Tip of the day: Guitar tends to be a highly individualistic instrument. Technique can vary widely from player to player. Idiosyncratic tendencies can lead to a sound that is uniquely your own.

April 23, 2018 Monday

Tip of the day: When improvising, many guitarists are limited to two or three positions for any given chord. Work towards seeing the fretboard as a whole by becoming familiar with all chord/scale/arpeggio relationships in at least five different positions.

April 24, 2018 Tuesday

Tip of the day: Joe Pass created a contrapuntal style of soloing that was very distinctive. His series of "Virtuoso" albums established a standard of excellence that has yet to be surpassed. His subsequent work with Peterson and Fitzgerald are the stuff of legend. Early in his career, Pass received a "New Star Award" from Downbeat magazine. This was *not* the new "guitar" star award. He later won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Group for The Trio with Oscar Peterson and Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen. Joe Pass' career saw him recording and performing with the likes of George Shearing, Benny Carter, Milt Jackson, Herb Ellis, Zoot Sims, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Count Basie, among others. It doesn't get better than that. In his day Pass was the top man on his instrument. And all these years after he died, Joe Pass continues to be regarded as jazz royalty.

April 25, 2018 Wednesday

Tip of the day: Occasional minor hand injuries like cuts and splinters are probably unavoidable in life but can make playing the guitar very difficult. Tip the odds in your favor by wearing gloves while doing household chores and moving your amplifier.

April 26, 2018 Thursday

Tip of the day: Much of jazz pedagogy seems to focus on the chord/scale approach at the expense of a repertoire based system that would incorporate more listening to the historic perspective. The better students will be curious enough to trace the music back a few generations. The authenticity they gain will help them to sound better; or at least better than some kid running scales over changes.

April 27, 2018 Friday

Happy Birthday, Calvin Newborn ! [1933]

Happy Birthday, Lionel Loueke !! [1973]

Tip of the day: Because of the smooth outer wrap, flatwound strings are easier to play than round wound strings due to reduced friction. Flatwounds also tend to last longer as they trap less moisture and dirt than roundwounds.

April 28, 2018 Saturday

Happy Birthday, Everett Barksdale! [1910]

Happy Birthday, Leni Stern ! [1952]

Happy Birthday, Steve Kahn! [1947]

Tip of the day: When you are on the bandstand and somebody calls a tune that you don't know, please have the ego integrity to speak up and say, "I don't know that [#%$^%&^*!!!] song". The ensuing havoc, if you remain silent, will be far beyond any glancing blow your pride is likely to suffer.

April 29, 2018 Sunday

Happy Birthday, Toots Thielemans! [1922]

Happy Birthday, Will Matthews! [1957]


Tip of the day: In this day and age where an avalanche of information about music [or any other topic] is only a mouse click away, there is still no substitute for the one on one, face to face tutelage that a music student will get in a lesson from his private instructor. The private lesson continues to be the cornerstone of musical development because it cannot be imitated, simulated or otherwise replaced. There is no substitute for the relationship between the maestro and the novice and this will not be changing anytime soon.

April 30, 2018 Monday

Tip of the day: The question of being able to play jazz with no theoretical background is highly problematic. There are indeed examples of people who have succeeded in doing this on a very high level. Buddy Rich and Wes Montgomery are two names you will often hear in this regard. The important thing you must remember is that these are the exceptions that prove the rule. Rich and Montgomery were outstanding, exceptional people; musical geniuses. It would be a mistake for any aspiring musician to compare themselves to performers like this. It is also wrong to think that refraining from studying theory or learning to read music [two of life’s lesser agonies] will make you a better musician. Let me assure you that it will not.

The Jazz Guitar Almanac

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on the first of each month.

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