Jazz Guitar Almanac

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The Jazz Guitar Almanac

October 2018

October 1, 2018  Monday

Happy Birthday, Lou Pallo!!  [1934]

       [Pallo is seen here with Les Paul.]

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. In this context the word style refers to a particular distinctive manner of expression; as in the way in which a piece of music is performed.  All musical expression has identifiable elements of style. This is how we distinguish Baroque from Romantic and Mazurka from Samba.


October 2, 2018 Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Howard Roberts!  [1929]

Happy Birthday, Joe Giglio!!!    [1954]

Tip of the day: Today’s birthday boy, Howard Roberts, reveals himself to be a master chord technician in his series of instructional books. They contain a wealth of applied harmonic approaches that are both practical and beautiful.


October 3, 2018  Wednesday


Tip of the day: Be a link in the chain of stylistic continuity. Seek out the wisdom and insights of players from the previous generation. Offer guidance and opportunities to worthy younger players.


October 4, 2018  Thursday


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 and actively thinking. When you are simply doing it, you are performing at the limits of human potential. 


October 5, 2018  Friday


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


October 6, 2018  Saturday

Happy Birthday,  Carmen Mastren! [1913]

       [Mastren is seen here with Woody Allen.]

Happy Birthday, Mark Whitfield!  [1966]

Happy Birthday, Lenny Argese!!!    [1942]

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 but the horn parts are written out. It's all jazz. You have to think of the word "jazz" in somewhat broader terms.


October 7, 2018  Sunday

Happy Birthday, Wilson “Serious” Myers!  [1906]


Tip of the day: To be part of the continuum that includes Johnny St. Cyr, Charlie Christian, Jim Hall, Russell Malone and Mark Whitfield is a great honor and a privilege. A wise man hears the call.


October 8, 2018  Monday


Tip of the day: Do not neglect the diligent study of the arpeggios, scales and modes. They are the vocabulary and grammar of jazz improvisation.


October 9, 2018  Tuesday

Happy Birthday, Elmer Chester Snowden! [1900]

Happy Birthday, Frank Dibussolo!! [1951]

Happy Birthday, Pete Cosey!  [1943]

   [Cosey is seen here woth Miles Davis.]

Tip of the day: Setting a drink on your amp is not a great idea. If it gets spilled your amp may stop functioning immediately and require costly repairs.


October 10, 2018 Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Lee Blair ! [1905]

   [Blair was a member of The Luis Martin Orchestra.]

Tip of the day: Avoid interrupting your improvised melodic lines because of the problems posed by the harmonic setting. Find ways to connect ideas into seamless, smooth, continuous statements by identifying common tones from one chord to the next.


October 11, 2018   Thursday

Happy Birthday, Peter Sprague!   [1955]

Tip of the day: The compositions of Thelonious Monk lend themselves to guitarist’s interpretations. Try Blue Monk, Evidence or Well You Needn’t on for size.


October 12, 2018   Friday

Happy Birthday, Yoshiaki Masuo!    [1946]

Happy Birthday, Ed Cherry!             [1954]

Tip of the day: The “All Italian Jazz Guitar Section” includes Eddie Lang, Nick Lucas, Joe Pass, Harry Volpe, Carmen Mastren, Al Viola, Pat Martino, Bucky Pizzarelli, Don Arnone, John Pizzarelli, Remo Palmieri, Joe Puma, Tony Rizzi, Jimmy Bruno, Sal Salvador, Jack Fragomeni, Chuck D’Aloia, Frank Vignola, Rick DelSavio, Robert Conti, Michele Ramo, Tony DeCaprio, Reno De Stefano, Joe Giglio, Joe Carbone, Al Caiola, Lou Mecca, Rich DiCarlo, Gene Bertoncini, John Pisanno and Joe Diorio.


October 13, 2018   Saturday


Tip of the day: A guitar amp with twin 12 inch speakers in an open back cabinet is a good all-purpose setup. This design has been around now for over 40 years and remains popular with jazzmen and players in the other styles as well.


October 14, 2018   Sunday

Happy Birthday, Kazumi Watanabe!   [1953]

Happy Birthday, Garrison Fewell!         [1953]

“I’m like a gardener... just trying to plant all these various beautiful flowers that I like and let it be. I’m concerned about the beauty.”  [Kenny Burrell]

Tip of the day: Rare and well done: Recordings from independent jazz guitarists who are not signed to major labels may be hard to find but are very much worth the effort. Fred Fried, Rick Stone, Charlie Robinson, Joey Goldstein, Tony DeCaprio, Ted Vieira, Greg Clayton, Mitch Seidman, Rick DelSavio, Steve Carter, Doug Proper, Tom Lippincott, Kevin Van Sant, Eric Elias, Steve Herberman, and Kevin Lutke are good examples of this.


October 15, 2018   Monday

Happy Birthday, Mickey Baker!  [1925]

Tip of the day: The microtonal possibilities of the guitar particularly on blue notes are powerful and evocative. The technique is frequently overstated by many rock players but finds more tasteful practitioners among the likes of Kenny Burrell, Russell Malone and Herb Ellis.


October 16, 2018   Tuesday


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.


October 17, 2018   Wednesday

Happy Birthday,  Barney Kessel ! [1923]

Happy Birthday, Howard Alden!  [1958]

Tip of the day: The mythology regarding who is considered  “influential” is something that has been perpetuated by the jazz press for decades. They seem to have what I call a "horn-centric" view of the universe at times. As a musician I don't  necessarily subscribe to this kind of orthodoxy. The guitar has always played a vital role in the development of the style and the best guitarists' influence has gone well beyond the fact that they happen to play a certain instrument. The colorations that the guitar creates will always be an important stylistic consideration. It's an instrument that is highly individualistic and idiosyncratic too. This means that the contribution a certain guitarist makes to a given performance uniquely his alone. This ability to effect the performance, the other musicians and audience might even be called "influential". The jazz press may get hip to this at some point, but don't  expect them to stop reserving their highest honors for the trumpets and saxes.  


October 18, 2018   Thursday

Happy Birthday, Tony Purrone!!!    [1954]

Tip of the day: Well it’s that time of year again. Whether your taste runs towards chestnuts like “Autumn Leaves” and “Autumn in New York” or the modernity of Wayne Shorter’s  “Fall” you can’t miss with a reference to this beautiful season.


October 19, 2018   Friday

Happy Birthday, Sam Farkas!!   [1953]

Happy Birthday, Pete Chilver! [1924]

Happy Birthday, John Mills Jr. !   [1910]

   [John Mills was one of The Mills Brothers.]

“I say play your own way. Don’t play what the public wants.....”

[Thelonious Monk]

Tip of the day: If I could give you only one word of advice it would be: *listen*. Listening is the most important thing in music. From how we perceive the sounds we hear to how we learn to play, analyze, compose, teach, etc. ; listening is the gateway, the conduit and the final destination. The development of your listening skills continues over the course of your lifetime and if you are open to the experience you will find that you'll be hearing more and more with every passing year.


October 20, 2018   Saturday

Happy Birthday, Carl Kress !   [1907]

Happy Birthday, Martin Taylor! [1956]

Tip of the day:  Keep the guitar away from extremes of temperature and humidity.


October 21, 2018   Sunday

Happy Birthday, Lord Westbrook!  [1921]

Happy Birthday, Guillermo Bazzola! [1962]

Tip of the day:  Becoming familiar with Roman numeral chord nomenclature or the “Nashville” system will help you become adept at the chore of transposition.


October 22, 2018   Monday

Happy Birthday, Cyril Blake!!! [1897]

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. 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. 


October 23, 2018   Tuesday


Tip of the day: Left handed guitars are more expensive than their counterparts and are relatively rare. Since it is probably no more difficult for a left handed beginner to start learning on a right handed guitar they might as well get off on the “right” foot.


October 24, 2018   Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Lawrence Marrero!  [1900]

     [Marrero is seen her with George Lewis’ band.]

Happy Birthday, Daniel Corzo!  [1963]

Tip of the day:  Chord symbols are subject to interpretation. Learn a variety of voicings and substitutions that will allow you to color the music in as many ways as you can.


October 25, 2018   Thursday

Happy Birthday, Eddie Lang!          [1933]

Happy Birthday, Edmond “Doc” Souchon!! [1897]


Tip of the day: Always tune up to pitch. If you go past pitch, tune back below it and turn the peg up again. If you tune downward the strings will slip flat as you play due to catching on the nut and whatever play is present in the tuning mechanism.


October 26, 2018   Friday

Happy Birthday, Sterling Conaway!!!!         [1900]

Happy Birthday, Milton Nascimento !! [1942]

Tip of the day: A certain level of competence with chords and scales is a prerequisite for playing jazz. Foundation exercises in every key should be practiced with differing rhythms, meters and tempi.


October 27, 2018   Saturday

Happy Birthday, Philip Catherine!  [1942]

Happy Birthday, Folke Eriksberg!   [1910]

Tip of the day: Harmony is referred to as the vertical element in music as the chords align themselves on the page in an up and down fashion. Melody is the horizontal element as its contour appears across the page from left to right.


October 28, 2018   Sunday

Happy Birthday, Tuck Andress!  [1952]

Happy Birthday, Kurt Rosenwinkle!!   [1970]

Tip of the day:  All the 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 .   


October 29, 2018   Monday

Tip of the day: The six tones that result from the linking of two triads can be used as improvisational material. Eb [Eb-G-B] and F [F-A-C] will work well over C-7, F7 or Ebmaj#11 and will open up many interesting interval jumps.


October 30, 2018   Tuesday

Tip of the day: As a leader I try my best to create parts that are correct and accurate. I expect the people I hire to play the part I give them without rehearsal. I put in extra effort double checking what I've written so I won't be wasting the musicians' precious time. The standard of excellence among musical professionals is a high one. There is literally no margin of error and no room for mistakes. Any developing guitar player who aspires to this level of expertise would be well advised to concentrate on being able to read and write music in the way everybody else does. Forget about tablature. No matter how good your ears are, there is a lot of great music out there that has never been recorded. Without reading skills a player will never get near any of this stuff.  


October 31, 2018   Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Joey Goldstein!        [1953]

Tip of the day: Trick or treat?  If you have any hopes of becoming a “monster”, you’ll have to practice, practice, and practice.



The Jazz Guitar Almanac

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