Monday, January 13, 2014

Meeting Jimmy Raney

Back in “82 Jimmy Raney gave a masterclass at the Rotterdam conservatory where I studied at the time. I came in late and everybody was grinning because I carried my guitar with me. Everyone had done their best to hide theirs under the tables."

The guitar teachers played great with Jimmy and then it was the turn of the students to play. “Who wants to play with Jimmy?” Everybody took one step back, leaving me and my guitar up front with a feeling I had volunteered for some dark mission in the foreign legion.

“What ... do you ... want to play?” he asked with a dark, slowly paced voice. “Have you met Miss Jones” I said. “Oookaaay” he said. “In what key?” “The original key!” I replied. “Oookaaay….what is…. the original key?” “F” I said. I just wanted to play and get it over with. “Do you …..want to play the melody ……or shall I ……play the melody?” “No, please, you play the melody” (silence) “What tempo…….. do you want to play it in?” I snapped my fingers in a tempo I could manage to solo in. I was getting a little bit nervous because he was talking so slowly I thought the whole thing was going to take too long. Just when I counted in he stopped me and he asked in that same slow voice “ Do you ……want to play the first chorus ………..or shallI I play the first one?” (Oooh come on) I thought chorus meant playing one chorus so I replied like a gentleman: ”No, please ... you take the first chorus” (mmmm .... not very clever) He played six choruses and after that I thought: ""Well, that story was told ... What can I possibly add to something already said so beautifully?" I squeezed out two choruses (listen).

After this all students relaxed a bit. “Mr Raney why don’t you bend strings like a rock guitarist?” a student asked. Jimmy looked at the student emotionless. “I’m afraid ... they’ll break ...” he replied.

Herbie Guldenaar




  1. great story, just sittin' here listening to Jimmy's vol 20 from Aebersold, man the guy just oozed bebop! Unfortunately somewhat underrated i don't know why... be sure to check out his son Jon Raney's blog for a great bio of Jimmy. In '82 i was 15 and Van Halen and Randy Rhoads were huge in my age group in the states ... unfortunately great musicians like Jimmy got

  2. undercut by the popularity or rock

  3. funny story. Thanks man. Congratulations on making it thru. What a tough act to follow.