Out of nowhere (well somewhere obviously) I’ve been asked to step in the guitar shoes with The Spike Orchestra. I’ve not heard of these people before, but I’m glad I have a quick listen reveals a sophisticated, witty, complex and satisfying original blend of Naked City, cartoon composer Carl Stalling, Kenny Wheelery contemporary jazz, rock and something unnameable. My first concert with them will be Sept 13th 2013 at the Forge, Kingston and I can’t wait to get stuck into/get roasted by the spaghetti charts.
After a slight hiatus while half of the band reproduced themselves the VTQ are back in the studio, reroasting chops for some summer gigs. I love the people, (Paul Thorpe, Nathan Thomas, Richard Watts, Pat Symes, Liz Mitchell, ‘Frank’ Watkins and Mat Duke) and am moved by the ego-less humour and creativity of the music.
With 3 Albums down, festival gigs and a bucket of TV syncing it’s infectious, eclectic and irresistible music, and I’ll continue playing with them until they find me out.
It’s wonderful to be involved in classical guitar virtuoso John Williams’ latest recording project. Details to follow, but the energy, enthusiasm and skill he continues to deliver after 200 CDs, all the accolades and well over a half-century of professional musicianship is astonishing and inspiring in equal measure.
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…
I can say without bias that Bridget‘s classical guitar playing and arranging is exquisite and widely admired by musicians from Julian Bream to Tim Minchin. It was an absolute pleasure to record and produce her debut solo album, and the next is just around the corner.
Jazz Guitar Instructional DVD published by the good folk of Future Publishing
In their words…
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
- Playalong tunes:
- 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
The Voodoo Trombone Quartet’s latest album is OUT. Lovely, lovely post ska eclectica. http://open.spotify.com/album/3ViPhvhno2st63A6tSAVSn Personell:
Paul Thorpe – Keys, Vocals
Milton Mermikides – Guitars
Matt Duke – Bass
James ‘Frank Watkins’ – Drums
Liz Mitchell – Baritone Saz
Nathan Thomas -French Horn
Pat Symes – Trombone
Richard Watts – Trumpet
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.
Unlike the piano, the ability of playing a simultaneous bass line and chord progression on the guitar is hard won.
However, with some focused work on fretboard harmony, an effective, intuitively controlled and fun approach is possible.
The following document provides an introduction to the technique – and some patient practice will go a long way. Enjoy
In Two Minds: Harmonic Literacy for the Guitar IV – Walking Bass & Chords
If you want to catch Bridget’s major TV appearance (and a dispensible one from me) watch Play It Again, BBC1, 7pm Monday May 7th 2007. It is very entertaining, Bridget comes across great, and Bill Oddie er less so. Bill managed to get paid generously, receive expert tuition, a nice guitar and amp, enviable musical opportunities, emotional support, special treatment and STILL managed to learn very little AND be the grumpiest birdwatcher in the land. Nice work if you can get it.
Who knows where this will lead Bridget, but I am picking out mansions that she can buy for us just in case.
Wow- I’ve been busy. I won’t make you suffer the details but it all came to a head last Sunday when my Eclectic Guitar Orchestra (EGO) played a sell-out concert at the Guildford Music Festival-all proceeds to leukaemia charities. We were joined by the legendary flamenco guitarist, Paco Pe
Hello all. Forgive me if any of you have been waiting for an update. But I have been very much active on MiltChat a discussion forum for leukaemia & cancer people and carers- you are all very welcome.So what’s up with me?
My regular hospital check-ups have dropped to 2-monthly visits. (Quite a change from 15 minute obs under chemo) I eat well, and hardly touch alcohol. The last week I have run 4-5k every morning before breakfast followed by weights, crunches etc I feel energetic in the day and generally very well indeed. I take 2 penicillin a day, and often forget the 2nd one. Of course, the threat of relapse is a real and very dangerous concern, but so far so good. Am toying with the idea of a Triathlon in June 2007.
My good friend, Jessica Mason has opted for Maintenance Chemo rather than BMT and doing us proud with her fiesty resilience.
9-year old Daniel Kerkhoff has sadly relapsed and has had to have both testicles removed and is on another 2 years of chemo planned. He continues to fight with a lack of self-pity and courage that puts most adults to shame.
20-year old Gareth Mace has had serious infection complications during his chemo treatment for ALL, and has had to have his leg removed to prevent further damage. He is fighting bravely.
I wish them all well.
Very sadly, I have decided to retire from all my teaching at RAM. This is beacause I have been offered a new role at RAM as de feacto Creative Director of the CTL Music Research Centre. This is a tremendous job (just 2 days a week) that involves colloborating on exciting music projects wit composers, muisc institutions and performers from around the world. I am very excited about it, but will really miss teaching the wonderful students.
I am continuing to practise and work for my performance PhD. I am currently writing up a paper for 20th Century Music Journal. On the guitar I have mostly been looking at Django’s playing, time-feel, sweep-picking and multi-finger tapping for some unknown reason. As part of my training, I have been responding to a Shred Challenge.
The target for my 10k run of