Soundboard Scholar (No.6) features my paper. “Monitored Freedom: Swing Rhythm in the Jazz Arrangements of Roland Dyens” examines the time-feel in the performances and scores of Roland Dyens, in particular reference to his arrangement of Nuages – and Django’s performances of this piece. Working with the genius Jonathan Leathwood is always a privilege and joy, and I am very grateful that my illustration is used as the cover image to the journal. Available here.
For Guitar Techniques Issue 240, I’ve penned a little thing about different approaches to playing over a simple blues progression. THIS WAS SUCH A CONFUSING THING FOR ME TO LEARN GROWING UP. Why? Because
1) There are several effective approaches, and humans being humans can only give advice on what they know. I received conflicting advice from different great players on what to do, leaving me befuddled.
2) Blues playing can be both very simple and intuitive, and hugely complex. Learning to use both intuitive flair and theoretical sophistical takes time (not that I’m done, far from it).
This article to which I owe much to Jason Sidwell for the underlying themes offers 4 different approaches to playing on a 12-bar, 3 chord progression. I found it very useful, I hope you might too.
Molto excited to be running a Jazz guitar course (with Bridget running the parallel Classical guitar course) in the stunning Palazzo Mannocchi in the Marche region of Italy 15-22 August 2015 with Helicon Arts. Italian food and wine, terraces, gorgeous views, 2 swimming pools, all food and trips catered and lots and lots of extended chords, guide-tome lines and tasteful phrasing.
My article on Bossa Nova guitar is now in Guitar Techniques issue 238. Such an amazing and idiosyncratic guitar style, it was a real pleasure to put this together, and I learned a lot about the players and techniques.
My 3rd in a series of guitar DVDs, Play Guitar Now: Texas Blues is now out on Future Publishing. Quite a lot of work this one trying to capture essential playing concepts of Lightnin’ Hopkins, Albert Colins, T-Bone Walker, SRV and all those other amazing Texan guitar-slingers.
You can pick up a copy in WHSmiths and other places, or online here
Well I must be doing something right – or probably not enough wrong – as the good people of Future have asked me to yet another DVD this Winter.
It’s due for release in early 2014. Topic is under wraps but this little image should give you a mighty big clue. Rather excited about this one.
In May, I’ll be recording a second instructional Guitar DVD for Future Publishing. Not Jazz, like the last one and it will involve a lot of research and work, but am looking very much forward to it. Now I have to beg, borrow or steal* a Gibson 335…
From the makers of Guitar Techniques this magazine and DVD package is especially for guitarists that can play from lower to upper intermediate level. It’s for those that want to strike out on the path to jazz – or who simply fancy adding some cool jazz chords or some juicy jazzy licks to their current arsenal of chops.
To get you started, the most useful chords and scales you can use in jazz
Jazz rhythm styles; now you’ve learn some cool jazz chords, do some comping (accompaniment) with them!
Learn some great lead jazz guitar licks
Bossa Nova – in the style of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto and Charlie Byrd
Jazz-Blues – in the style of Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrell and Herb Ellis
Jazz-Funk – reminiscent of George Benson and Grant Green
Ballad – inspired by accompanists Joe Pass and Herb Ellis
Rhythm Changes – essential jazz progression first used by George Gershwin
In addition to playing over static minor and dominant chords, the ability to play over static major chords in all positions of the fretboard is extremely useful. This have been kept fairly neutral. avoiding too much differentiation between Ionian and Lydian so that these can be used on most instances of static major chords. Learning and composing Major scale patterns like these (together with the Dominant and minor examples) will greatly enhance the harmonic proficiency in your playing, and creative freedom in improvisation. Endless Lines III on Static Major Chords
Continuing from the last study, let’s take a CAGED approach to the minor or minor 7 chord. This will involve Dorian, Melodic Minor, Aeolian, Dorian bebop, Minor blues and other bebop devices. A Dorian key signature is given as this is a central modal component in a lot of static minor chord playing. These have been written as continuous studies so repeat each section and move on at will for an epic workout. Again we focus on a quaver feel,but remember that once absorbed these can be endlessly shuffled and lego-ed in creative performance. Note also that these can work well on there related dominant chord (F7 in this case). Be sure to visualise the underlying chord-shapes and arpeggios, practise in various keys, styles and tempos to make them an intuitive part of your playing. Endless Lines II on Static Minor Chords
A real challenge in playing jazz guitar lies in the performance of long seamless lines. This of course is only a small component of improvisation, but it’s worth working on, as the sort of motor control and brain-finger connection has to be really developed. Using the CAGED system established previously, we’ll look at playing over static dominant chord. This will largely use dominant, bebop dominant, lydian dominant with typical bebop devices. Rather than runing scales, these (somewhat abritrary but effective) 4-bar phrases cover much of each position and require a comprehensive understanding of fretboard harmony. Of course these can be edited, recomposed, transposed, and lego-ed endlessly. Endless Lines I – Static Dominant Chord
Following on from the challenge in the last post – developing ii-V-I vocabulary all over the fingerboard – the following study takes a similar approach for minor ii-V-i patterns, for example Dm7(b5) – G7alt – Cm7. This will greatly enhance useful vocabulary. Furthermore all of the G7alt material may be readily used in a major ii-V context, and as ever these ideas can be broken up, restructured, shuffled, edited, sequenced and recombined for further editing. As a child I preferred Lego and Meccano to Playmobile and ActionMan. This is because with Lego and Meccano’s smaller and endlessly interconnectable units far more was possible, and the creative imagination had far freer scope; and partly because my ActionMan had missing fingers and only one of his eagle eyes moved.
One should adopt a Lego approach here, but just make sure you put them away when you’re finished.
The following short document uses an approach that provides 40 useful ii-V-I lines in every position of the guitar fingerboard, greatly aiding fluency of long improvised lines through jazz harmony. Hard work, but big returns. As ever, enjoy the process of practising and earn the resulting creative freedom. Yeah.