Jazz Guitar Almanac

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The Jazz Guitar Almanac

September 2018


September 1, 2018                  Saturday

Happy Birthday, Harry Leahey!  [1935]

Happy Birthday, Mike Danzi! [1898]

Tip of the day: The primary elements of style that are most closely associated with jazz include swing, syncopation and improvisation. There is also a certain harmonic palette and typical instrumental configurations that underlie this idiom. Jazz is also a characteristic repertoire and the product of a tradition that dates back nearly 100 years.


September 2, 2018  Sunday

Happy Birthday, Laurindo Almeida!  [1917]

Happy Birthday, Steve Masakowski!  [1954]

Tip of the day:  In performance based activities there is a distinction between thinking and doing. When you are thinking about doing it, you’re not doing it. You are consciously thinking. When you are simply doing it, you are performing at the limits of human potential


September 3, 2018  Monday

Happy Birthday , Peter Bernstein! [1967]

iTip of the day: There is more music out there than any of us will live long enough to play or even listen to. Take the long view. Music is the work of a lifetime. Study and draw inspiration from older musicians. Follow their example. Keep listening.


September 4, 2018  Tuesday

Happy Birthday,  Al Norris!  [1908]

Happy Birthday, Bireli Lagrene! [1966]

Happy Birthday, Wayne Wright!  [1932]

Tip of the day: There is an old debate that really comes down to semantics and certain conceptual issues about the nature of jazz. Jazz is more than improvisation. It also has characteristic elements of style, history, repertoire, idiosyncratic ensemble configurations, various performance conventions, etc. When you listen to The Vanguard Orchestra [or any big band really] you will be hearing a rhythm section that is playing accompaniment in a free, improvised fashion with horn parts written out. It's all jazz. Think of the word "jazz" in  broader terms.


September 5, 2018  Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Lawrence Dixon!          [1894]

   [Dixon was a member of The Earl Hines Band]

Tip of the day: When someone is playing shows, or wedding receptions, or rock gigs, etc. the majority of the time it will *not* help their jazz playing. Aspiring jazz players need to play in the jazz style as much as they can. This often means organizing and or participating in jam sessions three or four times a week if and when actual gigs are not on your schedule.


September 6, 2018  Thursday

Happy Birthday, Eddie Duran! [1925]

Happy Birthday, Alexey Kuznetsov!  [1941]

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 you can get into a situation where you just put things on "automatic pilot", so to speak and stop thinking about what you are playing. The mental exhaustion that sets in when you play all the time can be a problem.


September 7, 2018  Friday

Happy Birthday, Al Caiola!!  [1920]

Tip of the day: Give the audience credit. They may not have the technical knowledge of music that you do, but they know sincerity and will appreciate a heartfelt performance. They can spot a phony a mile away.


September 8, 2018  Saturday

Happy Birthday, Alfio Grasso!  [1912]

Tip of the day: There is a certain elitism in the jazz world. Lots of players and aficionados are very concerned with the cutting edge of the style. They want to hear the hot young players. They want to be hip to the new innovation whatever that may happen to be. I suppose jazz will always honor the innovator and that's certainly as it should be. This is perhaps one of the factors that causes jazz to appeal to a niche audience.



September 9, 2018  Sunday

Tip of the day: On the other hand, if jazz suddenly became more popular it would probably be a positive thing. The recent NEA article mentioned a spike in popularity in the aftermath of the Ken Burns documentary a few years ago. Paradoxically enough that film was quite controversial among the musicians themselves. The attention the documentary brought to jazz resulted in an increased interest among the public, at least for a while.


September 10, 2018 Monday

Happy Birthday,  Steve Herberman!  [1966]

Happy Birthday, Joe Deniz! [1913]

Tip of the day: My instructional approach integrates the ears, hands, eyes and the mind. We learn music in each of these different ways. We hear the sounds, learn the fingerings, see the music on the page and conceptualize the whole thing mentally.


September 11, 2018 Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Hiram Bullock!   [1955]

Tip of the day: Detuning the lowest string a whole step can open up new harmonic possibilities especially in the key of D major. George Benson’s chord melody solo on “Tenderly” is a good example of this.


September 12, 2018 Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Jerry Lavene!  [1948]

Happy Birthday, Bill Jennings!   [1919]

Tip of the day: All the sound clips on my site are from sessions that I lead. All the musicians on all the dates were using parts that I personally prepared for the occasion. As a leader on a session I'm looking at my part not just for the sake of my own playing but to make sure the rest of the guys play what I want to hear too. Any questions they have about the music are much easier for me to answer when I have the sheet in front of me . 


September 13, 2018 Thursday

Happy Birthday, Joe Morris!      [1955]

Happy Birthday, Joe Deniz! [1913]

“Ars longa, vita brevis” (Art is forever, life is short) [Latin Proverb]


Tip of the day: The greatest achievements of a civilization are frequently to be found in the arts. As noted in today’s proverb, the artist’s ability to tap into eternity is a deep and profound mystery.


September 14, 2018 Friday

Happy Birthday,  Fred Sokolow!!  [1945]

“It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.” [Dizzy Gillespie]

Tip of the day: From 1930 to 1943 Montgomery Ward’s was offering mail order guitars under the name Recording King. These instruments were manufactured by Gretsch and Gibson.


September 15, 2018 Saturday

Happy Birthday,  Al Casey! [1915]

Happy Birthday, Doug Proper!!  [1967]

Happy Birthday, Chris Buzzelli!  [1959]

Tip of the day: Lots of top players greatly enjoy the transcription process and will go on with great enthusiasm about things they learned from various recordings. It's really not the drudgery it may seem to be. To me it's all about enlightenment and discovery. So hang in there.



September 16, 2018 Sunday

Happy Birthday, Earl Klugh! [1954]

Happy Birthday, Charlie Byrd ! [1925]

Tip of the day: Coincidentally enough, two of the greatest practitioners of jazz on the classical guitar were born on this date. In addition to this similarity both Byrd and Klugh were noted for styles that used latin rhythms extensively.


September 17, 2018       Monday

Happy Birthday, Biddy Fleet!   [1910]

“Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.”  Voltaire


Tip of the day:  Performance is the hallmark of understanding: Let your guitar do the talking.


September 18, 2018 Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Emily Remler!  [1957]

“What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.” Samuel Johnson

Tip of the day: September in the Rain and September Song are likely additions to your set list this month.


September 19, 2018 Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Nino Rosso!!   [1926]

Tip of the day: Never call a tune on the bandstand unless you are ready, willing and able to play the head and are thoroughly familiar with the changes. This may seem obvious but it’s surprising how often this unwritten rule gets broken.


September 20, 2018 Thursday

Happy Birthday, John Collins ! [1913]

Happy Birthday, Jackie Paris ! [1926]

Happy Birthday, Eric Gale ! [1938]

Happy Birthday, Bill DeArango! [1921]

Tip of the day: Divide your practice time between technique, repertoire and reading. Compartmentalize your efforts and be disciplined in pursuing your goals.


September 21, 2018 Friday

Happy Birthday, Jerry Hahn!  [1940]

Happy Birthday, Greg Clayton! [1951]

Happy Birthday, Bern Nix!! [1947]

Tip of the day: The “half/whole tone” scale is built by alternating half step and whole step intervals. While it works well with altered and half diminished harmonies it can also be used to imply atonality over more conventional chords.


September 22, 2018 Saturday

Happy Birthday, Simone Gubbiotti   [1974]

Tip of the day:  Use clippers to trim your nails. Avoid files as they generally tear the nail and weaken it while producing a poor tone.


September 23, 2018 Sunday

Happy Birthday, Vic Juris! [1953]

Happy Birthday, Christian Escoude! [1947]

Happy Birthday, Albert Ammons! [1907]

Happy Birthday, John Coltrane! [1923]

Tip of the day: Certain tunes by John Coltrane feature interesting root motion and quick harmonic rhythms that are challenging and fun to play. Moment’s Notice, Central Park West, Giant Steps and Countdown are good examples from this period of ‘Trane’s career.


September 24, 2018 Monday

Happy Birthday, Bill Connors!  [1949]

Tip of the day: The insertion of a “quote” from another tune into a jazz chorus found perhaps it’s greatest practitioner in Dexter Gordon. Dex was able to do this in a very spontaneous, natural way that never seemed contrived or forced.


September 25, 2018 Tuesday

Happy Birthday,  Ahmed Ratip!        [1905]

Happy Birthday, Nelson Symonds!    [1933]

Tip of the day: Several fingerings are possible for any given melody on the guitar. There is bound to be disagreement among experts as to what constitutes the “best” choice but this is due to the nature of the instrument itself.


September 26, 2018 Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Ted Greene!!   [1946]

Tip of the day: Never pass up the chance to see a master perform. You may feel at first like taking a hammer to your guitar, but use the inspiration to practice harder and take your playing to the next level.


September 27, 2018 Thursday

Tip of the day: One of the first steps is to learn via imitation. You can check out various guitar comping styles on recordings but I suggest attending performances too. This is also something that two guitarists can work together on quite productively. Have your instructor give you a little demonstration and then take turns. He can critique your playing and give you some pertinent tips.


September 28, 2018 Friday

Tip of the day: For the first few years the jazz soloist should try to do more with less. Learn many applications for a few scales and arpeggios. As time goes by the rest of the scalar material will come. In the meantime learn as many standard tunes as possible.


September 29, 2018 Saturday

Happy Birthday, Dennis Sandole! [1917]

Tip of the day: A humble, dedicated student of modest talent is likely to go further than a talented, prideful student who practices infrequently.


September 30, 2018 Sunday

Happy Birthday, Scott Fields!    [1955]

Tip of the day: Temperature extremes will throw the guitar out of tune even as you play it. Beware of this problem should you ever have to perform in the heat or cold. Otherwise these extremes are to be avoided.

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