Jazz Guitar Almanac

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The Jazz Guitar Almanac

March  2018

March 1, 2018                        Thursday

Happy Birthday, Ralph Towner!  [1940]

Happy Birthday, Teddy Powell !   [1905]

Happy Birthday, Joseph Reinhardt ! [1912]

Happy Birthday, Elliot Sharp!  [1952]

Tip of the day: Learn to recognize the intervals on the staff. Learn to find them on your instrument and sing them too. Identify well known melodies containing specific intervals as a memory cue to help yourself internalize them.

March 2, 2018                        Friday
Happy Birthday, Larry Carlton! [1949]

Tip of the day: Larry Carlton reveals himself to be an innovative and inventive instrumentalist in his string bending technique. Larry likes to silently bend the string up and then articulate the note and let it fall back to pitch.

March 3, 2018                        Saturday

Tip of the day: People experience the joy of music without knowing anything about it on a technical level. I tend to notice this when I attend a "serious" concert. Certain modern orchestral works make great demands on the listener. If you look around though, the audience seems to be taking in stride and reveling in the experience.

March 4, 2017                        Sunday
Happy Birthday, Jim Nichols! [1947]

“The older I get the more respect and appreciation I have for my instrument.”  [Russell Malone]

Tip of the day:  Big band harmonies spread out over ensemble sections may not be entirely consistent with the chord symbols on rhythm section  parts due to the melodic contour or error. Identify and resolve these problems in rehearsal.

March 5, 2018                        Wednesday
Happy Birthday, John Basile!     [1955]

Tip of the day: It seems that a light touch is necessary to play up-tempo 16th notes on guitar. Unfortunately, some drummers seem to have the opposite problem. Fast does not mean loud.

March 6, 2018                        Tuesday
Happy Birthday, Wes Montgomery! [1925]

Happy Birthday, Dom Minasi ! [1943]

Tip of the day:  You should have enough variety in your repertoire to make it interesting to listen to: swing, ballad, blues, jazz waltz, bossa, etc. You should also be able to play different accompaniment styles; Freddie Green, walking bass, latin, rubato, etc. Always set up contrasting styles, tempos and keys when programming your setlists.

March 7, 2018                        Wednesday

Tip of the day: Big band horn soloists may not have the chord changes on their parts. Come to the rescue by allowing them to pencil in harmonies from your part.

March 8, 2018                        Thursday
Happy Birthday, Gabor Szabo !  [1936]

Tip of the day: One of the benefits of working with an instructor is that it brings focus and motivation to your development. It is helpful to have specific lesson material to prepare by a date certain. The fact that you are paying for the lessons is also beneficial. Since you don't want to throw your money away you will be more highly motivated to get the most out of the course of instruction.

March 9, 2018                        Friday
Happy Birthday, Paul Sealy!  [1943]

Tip of the day: Let your audience get to know you. Don’t be reluctant to speak to them from the bandstand. You might think that people know what they like, but don’t forget: they like what they know.

March 10, 2018                       Saturday

Tip of the day:  Don’t judge a book by its cover. An obscure debut album by an unheralded guitarist may be better than a compromised, watered-down, pop oriented release from a well known established player.

March 11, 2018                       Sunday
Happy Birthday, George Pritchett!  [1931]

Tip of the day: Disc jockeys, karaoke bars and one-man-band acts featuring pre-recorded accompaniment have hurt the job prospects for working musicians. Do what you can to oppose these trends.

March 12, 2018                       Monday

Tip of the day:  A classical guitar is often easier for the beginner to learn on. The wide fingerboard is forgiving and the nylon strings are easy on the fingertips.

March 13, 2018                       Tuesday
Happy Birthday, Saunders King!   [1909]

Tip of the day: I was working through a transcription in a popular book of guitar solos with a student. Which book is not so important because many current publications have the same problem. The book features treble clef with chord symbols on top and a line of tablature underneath. As we worked on the music it became obvious that the student was looking at the tablature and not reading the music. Like other aspiring teenagers he has seen tablature on the internet and has begun to conceptualize the music in this way. As a result we will not be able to use that particular book anymore. If he has any hope of earning a music degree and pursuing a career in this field, this is a bad habit that he will need to drop right away.

March 14, 2018                       Wednesday

"Sometimes I feel like the lone ranger. I'm looking for my own means of expression. And I'm just now starting to find it" -Woody Shaw (Little Red's Fantasy liner notes, 1976)

Tip of the day:  Many classical players favor a footstool to achieve the proper playing position while seated. Though a right-handed jazz guitarist may rest the instrument on the right thigh, a stool may still be a big help.

March 15, 2018                       Thursday
Happy Birthday, Raymond Boni! [1947]

Tip of the day: If there is to be a “button” on a song’s final fermata, someone must cue it. Otherwise the assumption should be that no button would be played.

March 16, 2018                       Friday
Happy Birthday, Bob Lessey!    [1910]

Tip of the day: When looking at a new piece of music make sure you understand the “roadmap”. First ending? Second ending? D.S. al fine? Coda? Get these things straight up front and you won’t get lost.

March 17, 2018                       Saturday

Tip of the day: Be prepared to accompany people who want to sing “Danny Boy” and “My Wild Irish Rose” today.

March 18, 2018                       Sunday
Happy Birthday, Bill Frisell!  [1951]

Tip of the day:  I hate to see negativity directed at the jazz community. It saddens me and infuriates me as well. Playing jazz takes a lifetime of dedication. It also happens to be a difficult and challenging profession for those who truly hear the call. It takes hard work and sacrifice to play this music. Those of us who love jazz would like to see it continue to flourish. In addition to this, many of us will not shy away from confronting negativity directed at jazz and the people who play it.

March 19, 2018                       Monday

Tip of the day: Musicianship continues to develop over the years in a hundred different ways. From personal experience I know that listening skills never stop expanding and extending themselves. I hear things this year that I couldn't quite fathom last year. Having been involved in music continuously since before the age of ten I can tell you with certainty that there is no real limit to the possibilities regarding the state of the development of your listening skills. In fact, I'm optimistic enough to believe that human development itself is an upward lifelong trajectory for anyone with the fortitude to push the envelope. The only real limitations are self imposed; or as my grandmother would say, "You'll end up with what you are willing to settle for."

March 20, 2018                       Tuesday
Happy Birthday, Sister Rosetta Tharpe!   [1921]

 [Tharpe is seen here with Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway.]

Happy Birthday, Roy Patterson! [1954]

Tip of the day: If you have to play outdoors remember that your black guitar amp can absorb a lot of the sun’s heat resulting in a malfunction. Position it in the shade whenever possible.

March 21, 2018                       Wednesday

Tip of the day: Many archtops are fitted with tune-o-matic bridges for optimal intonation but the guitar will probably sound better and resonate more freely with a regular wooden bridge.

March 22, 2018                       Thursday
Happy Birthday, George Benson! [1943]

Happy Birthday, Melvin Sparks! [1946]

Happy Birthday, Marek Blizinski!     [1947]

Tip of the day: Even though you may be accused of trying to imitate today’s birthday boy, try scat singing along with your solos. This reinforces your thinking about the improvised line.

March 23, 2018                       Friday
Happy Birthday, Oliver Gannon! [1943]

“We all have impeccable intuition, if we just listen to it.” [John McLaughlin]

Tip of the day: Diminished chords are symbolized by °7 or dim7 and consist of  a diminished triad [1-b3-b5] and a diminished [or double flat] 7.  Ab dim 7  is therefore spelled Ab-Cb-Ebb-Gbb.

March 24, 2018                       Saturday

Tip of the day: One of the great rewards in music is the camaraderie and companionship of your fellow musicians. The sharing of the creative process in jazz is a special experience and leads to rewarding relationships.

March 25, 2018                       Sunday

Tip of the day:  There are so many scales and related patterns that no one will live long enough to play them all. George Van Eps had made a few comments about this.  The trick is to identify the melodic raw material that  you really love and then develop it; but not to the extent  that it dominates your style.

March 26, 2018                       Monday
“Woodshedding is ... going off by yourself and addressing your deficiencies relentlessly, subjecting yourself to yourself.” [Wynton Marsalis]

Tip of the day: While performing keep a spare pick within easy reach. Everyone who uses one drops them and you are no exception.

March 27, 2018                       Tuesday

Tip of the day: Ear training can indeed be hard work. Especially if this is not one of the student's areas of relative strength. It is also true that some students are downright lazy. Experience shows however that there is a great range of variability even among accomplished musicians in terms of their listening skills. I always thought I had a pretty good ear, but I've encountered lots of guys that blow me out of the water in this regard. I've also sat next to players in professional situations who rely so completely on the written notation that they fail to perceive obvious mistakes, missed cues and other clearly audible problems.

March 28, 2018                       Wednesday

Tip of the day:  If you are going to rehearse or record your original material make sure that the other players have parts that are correct and legible. Preparation is the key to preventing the wasting of other people’s time. You certainly don’t want this to happen in a studio where time is money.

March 29, 2018                       Thursday
Happy Birthday, Remo Palmier!  [1923]

Happy Birthday, Jarowslaw  Smietana!!  [1951]

Tip of the day: For me it has always been important to have a routine. I practice first thing in the morning every day for an hour. I also practice again late afternoons for two hours daily. Since this is a routine schedule there is not always an element that you could describe as passion. The routine schedule keeps me going but the downside is that you can get in a rut. For me the best rut-buster and passion restoration exercise is to attend a live performance. If you are like me you will generally find this to be uplifting and inspirational.

March 30, 2018                       Friday
Happy Birthday, Dave Stryker! [1957]

Tip of the day: We hear music from the bottom up in keeping with the overtone  series. The bass is always easy to hear because there is nothing below it. There are only overtones above it. There is no such thing as an “undertone”.

March 31, 2018                       Saturday
Happy Birthday, Freddie Green! [1911]

Tip of the day:  I was fortunate enough to have seen Freddie Green perform with the Count Basie Orchestra and it was something I will always remember.  The significance of Green's contribution to the sound of that band and the style in general lives on every time swinging big band music is performed. Green was also a wonderful composer and arranger. I am pretty sure the "Freddie Green style" will be around for a while yet. Let's compare notes in another hundred years or so.

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