Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What makes a good jazz solo?

Being able to play changes is one thing. Building up a solo another .... Though I do not think there is a single formula for a good jazz solo I came across a few thoughts on this matter by Vince Corozine that I find useful and food for thought. It is something I have to work on myself a lot more.

  • Repeat an idea more than once, (this adds continuity) and don’t wander aimlessly from one idea to another
  • Use “open” spaces (no playing) to set up your next idea. This provides interest. Let the rhythm section work between ideas
  • Build tension and excitement. Start simply and build to a climax. When you run out of ideas and have nothing more to say-STOP!
  • Develop rhythmic variety and a mixture of dynamics and use crescendos and diminuendos for added interest.
  • Listen to the rhythm section and “ride” the time. Keep the constant feeling of the hi hat and bass part in your head at all times. Playing the “time” is more important than the notes you play. If you can’t think of anything to play—wait and listen to the rhythm section—let them spur you on---lean on them, talk to them...
  • Remember that sustained notes give a player a chance to think of what to play next and gives the listener a chance to absorb what he/she has just heard.
  • Nothing is as dull as a jazz solo that fills up every beat with notes and more notes. Fight the urge to fill it up.
  • Incorporate material from the song and save your best “shot” for the end.

A friend posted a transcription of a truly great jazz guitar solo by Barney Kessel on his Facebook page that contains all of the above. Great melodies and harmonies, repetition of ideas, rhythmic variation, dynamics, tension and release, use of crescendos and diminuendos, riding the time, open spaces etc. etc. It's all there. A textbook example of buidling up a great solo. A master at work.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Chops monster Eddy Palermo

Here's another player few know about. Italian guitarist Eddy Palermo is a real chops monster though. His style is very in-your-face and some state he has a tendency to overplay but I must admit ... I just love that kind of playing. Exciting stuff. I could not find much info about him on the internet except that he is teaching at a music school somewhere in Italy. Some stuff in Italian but I can't read that. Both his single line playing and chordal chops are impressive and strongly rooted in the bop tradition. So I must award him the Dutchbopper Seal of Approval. He has several albums out too. Some are on Spotify. Under the videos I added a playlist of his 2010 Album "Eddy Palermo Trio" which is very nice. He is so tearing it up on the 4th track "I Love You" Check him out!

By the way, pretty anoying how the jazz singer does not even let him finish his solo in the first vid ...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

15 years Jazz at the Crow

This month the Jazz at the Crow jams are celebrating their 15th anniversary. Since december 1999, the Crow jams have been taking place twice a month and they are still drawing a loyal crowd of local jazz musicians, mostly amateur but some pros too. As one of the founding fathers of the Crow jams and concerts, it is time to look back on 15 years at the Crow.

I got the idea of a local jazz jam somewhere in the fall of 1999, together with the piano player of the jazz combo I was in at the time. We knew there were quite a few amateur jazz musicians  and even some pros in the area and it seemed like a good idea to create a meeting place for them. There was this cafe that I had played at several times and that seemed to program some jazz to begin with and when we approached the owner, we soon came to an agreement to host two sessions every month.

It seemed like a good idea, for, right from the beginning we could count on a loyal following of local players. There were few to no slow nights at the Crow. After a year, on 12 december 2000,  we celebrated our first birthday with a guest appearance of Jesse van Ruller and the idea of "special guests" was born at that time. We started looking for sponsors to afford them and formed a team to promote the Crow activities in a foundation called "Live Jazz Promotions."

With Yuri Honing
The following 3 years at the Crow were very exciting and inspiring and, for me, absolutely the best years at the Crow. After Jesse van Ruller in 2000, I jammed with such Dutch jazz greats as tenors Yuri Honing, Ferdinand Povel, and Hans Dulfer, bassist Tony Overwater and guitarist Anton Goudsmit in 2001. That year was really a highlight in the Crow history. The house was often packed and there we were, a bunch of jazz rookies playing with the creme de la creme of Dutch jazz.

With Anton Goudsmit

With John Engels

With Hans Mantel

This went on for a few more years. I got to play with trumpet player Eric Vloeimans, Hammond players Arno Krijger and Carlo de Wijs, jazz singer Carmen Gomez, drummer John Engels and bass player Hans Mantel, all of them big names in Dutch jazz.

Meanwhile one of the members of our foundation started programming concerts next to our jams and I attended many great concerts over the years too. The Crow actually became a genuine jazz stage.

In addition, we held jazz guitar nights and later even jazz clinics were organised. I created a website with live recordings at the Crow that were streamed by people all over the world in the early 2000s.

Jazz Guitar Night 2006 with Matt Otten, me, Hans van Leeuwen and Herbie Guldenaar
I left the organisation somewhere in the mid 2000s. Somehow we stopped inviting guests at our jam and the emphasis of the foundation shifted to programming concerts, which I had very little interest in. The jams went on but over the years I stopped going more and more because I felt it was more of the same thing every two weeks. Nothing wrong with that, but I wanted more. In 2008 I left the local jazz scene completely for 5 years, after some disappointing experiences.

With Arno Krijger

Meanwhile, other people took over hosting the jams and though the jazz concerts stopped too a few years ago due to declining audiences and difficulties in finding sponsors, the initial idea of a local jazz jam stage is still going strong at the Crow. When I returned from my jazz sabbatical in 2013 and started to play at the Crow again, many of the original players of the first years had left but new and young players still show up regularly to fill in the gaps.

These days I have moved on to new things. I host my own jazz jam in a different town and I play with different people and even feel quite different about jazz music but the Crow jams are still very much a part of my personal history. "A bit like your kid", to quote a friend. And we all know kids go their own way after a while.

My current jazz jam at the Oxhead

Friday, December 19, 2014

Martijn van Iterson solo

Always keen on finding new van Iterson footage, I came across this beautiful solo rendition of "You Don't Know What Love Is." Apparently it was recorded during a living room solo concert. Not entirely sure about that. The video quality is excellent, you can watch it in HD. What a master.

P.s. I just added another one: "Giant Steps."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Play piano/guitar duets with Aebersold volume 113

Aebersold Volume 113 is one of my favourite playalongs. It is different from the usual Aebersold treatment in that it ONLY features a piano as backing. It was originally designed to accomodate singers but of course it is great for guitarists too. You can practise a more intimate approach and the guitar blends nicely with the piano. The comping feel of tha piano is superb. The songs are: 
  • Body And Soul
  • I Can't Get Started
  • Dancing In The Dark
  • I Didn't Know What Time It Was
  • Embraceable You
  • I Only Have Eyes For You
  • I Could Write A Book
  • I Thought About You
  • Love Is Here To Stay
  • Someone To Watch Over Me
  • When I Fall In Love
  • Where Or When
Every song is available in two keys (for high and low voice). Body and Soul (C/A); When I Fall In Love (Eb/C); I Can't Get Started (Bb/G); I Could Write A Book (Bb/Ab); Embraceable You (F/Db); Love Is Here To Stay (Eb/C); I Only Have Eyes For You (A/G); I Didn't Know What Time It Was (F/D); Dancing In The Dark (Eb/C); I Thought About You (C/Bb); Someone To Watch Over Me (C/Ab); Where Or When (Eb/C).

I did a few takes on "I Thought About You". One was with the Tal Farlow and one with the Ibanez FG 100. The Tal sounds a bit fatter but the Ibanez sounds great too. The takes are pretty similar. Wonder which sound you prefer ...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hal Leonard Playalongs: 7 Bop heads

I have been using the Aebersold Jazz Playalong series for years and years. I guess you know them too and probably have used them or still do. Still, with Band in a Box getting better and better every year with really good sounding samples (the so called Real Tracks) and the appearance of the iReal Book on the iPad, the Aebersold is not the only option to practise with playalongs anymore. And then there's the Hal Leonard Jazz Play Along series ... I was kind of surprised some guys still don't know these. For, they are a really good alternative to the Aebersold series. What is strong about them is the fact that the melody is played too on a separate track. So every track has two versions, one with the melody stated and one without. And they sound really great. I have no qualms promoting a good product so here's their ad:


I like the bebop play alongs a lot because you can practise the heads unisono with sax or trumpet. And that's exactly what I often do in my current quartet. But there are many other playalongs too, a pretty similar offering to the Aebersold series.

It's time for some boppin' now so you can hear what the tracks sound like. In the vid I am playing 7 bebop eads followed by a short impro chorus. The tracks are:

1. Donna Lee 2. Blues for Alice 3. Oleo 4. Billies' Bounce 5. Confirmation 6. Tenor Madness 7. Ornithology

To see what's on offer by Hal Leonard click here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Another unsing hero of the jazz guitar: Sean Levitt

My previous post was about John Schröder, a fine German guitarist few people know about. I added some tracks I found on Youtube but if you really want to hear him in hifi you should check out the album: A Taste of Jazz (1990) by the Klaus Weiss Quintet (Performance CD PE-901). A great mainstream album with excellent guitar playing. Probably the best I know of John.

Today I would like to write about another unsung of the jazz guitar: Sean Levitt. Until a week ago I had never heard of him but when I checked him out on Spotify I was really blown away by his playing. I heard a guy whose playing reminded me a lot of Doug Raney, who happens to be one of my favourite players. I did some research on the internet - very little to be found by the way - and it seems the two knew each other very well. He and Doug were pretty good friends in their teens. With Sean being a few years older, he started on guitar much younger and apparently had his playing together before Doug had. So it is likelythat Doug was more influenced by Sean than the other way around.

Here is Sean playing his original "Taller Blues." It's a live recording with so so sound.

Sean Levitt came from a family of musicians. His stepfather was Al Leavitt, a drummer who toured with Stan Getz and Tristano a.o. and his mother was a singer. Sean lived in NY till around '83, and then moved to Spain where he taught guitar and gigged. He died in 2002, in his fifties. Apparently, Sean went through a lot of drug problems over the years and was in and out of rehab.

There are a few nice clips and live vids on Youtube but a better choice to check him out would be some of his albums on Spotify. You will hear a great bebop guitarist with great tone and chops in abundance. Very much in the vein of Doug Raney but, like I said, Sean had his act together earlier than Doug so the influence may well have been the other way around. I added a playlist of a quartet album he did as a leader that I particularly dig: "Sean Levitt." And one of a live trio album "Alone Together." You will find several more albums of this great guitar talent that left us too early and is way too good not to be heard.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pat Martino Trio in Concert

There are a lot of Martino vids on the internet but the one I have been watching this week really stands out because the audio and video is so beautifully recorded. It really captures the atmosphere of a live performance. And I like nothing better than Pat's playing in a Hammond trio. So have fun with this concert video that was recorded in Poland earlier this year, if you haven't already. You can watch in HD even. Fantastic stuff.

Friday, October 31, 2014

One of those guys you probably never heard of: John Schröder

Here's a guitar player I bet most of you guys don't know. I remember playing Chet Baker's Last Great Concert from 1988 in my car stereo all the time somewhere in the mid 90s. The album had been recorded just 2 weeks before he fell out of that hotel window in Amsterdam. Besides being a really great album with Chet playing superbly, what struck me at the time was the guitarist that played so fine on it. His name was John Schröder and he was German but  surprisingly I had never heard of him. Over the years I kept on returning to that album and kept marvelling at this guy's playing. His solo's on that album are short - he does not get that much space - but are so lyrical and hip. Then I met Jesse van Ruller in 2000 when I jammed with him at the Crow and when we talked about guitar players that had inspired him and he soon mentioned John Schröder's solo on "In Your Own Sweet Way" on that album as a great source of inspiration. So time for you to check it out. It's magnificent and among Cher's best work IMHO. The guitar work by John on "Summertime" and "In Your Own Sweet Way" is superb.

A year earlier, in 1987, a young John Schröder (23) is to be heard as a sideman on the live recording "Clifford Jordan meets Klauss Weiss" that was recorded live in Austria.  He gets way more solo space on this one:

And here's one more track of that album that I found on Youtube on which he gets plenty of space and is really wailing:

It seemed that he later switched to playing drums, bass and piano and is a master at all. His later work is not bop or mainstream anymore, but more avant garde. There is more info on him on his website. I kind of doubt he is still playing mainstream jazz these days. He should though, what a fine player ...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jazz Jam Etiquette

Our monthly Jazz Jam at De Ossekop
I regularly go to jam sessions and I am currently hosting one myself in the village of St. Oedenrode. Another one that I started 15 years ago at the Crow in Eindhoven (Jazz at the Crow) is still going strong. So I have seen a great many jam nights. Some really great nights, many so so and some pretty awful. I did some research on jazz jam etiquette and then added my personal experience and that of a few other experienced players to come up with some guidelines for effective jazz jams. I have sinned against many of them myself in the past so don't get too upset.
  • It is a good idea to have a rhythm section (backline) consisting of piano or guitar, bass and drums. The session leader usually starts off playing a couple of tunes with the backline, after which other soloists can take the stage. Two chord instruments in the backline makes no sense at all and will unnecessarily clog the music and kill the transparency of it. So choose either piano OR guitar OR keyboard as chord instrument. But not all at the same time (which I have actually seen happen quite often). Guitarists should behave like horns if there is a piano in the rhythm section. 
  • Piano players should be careful with their voicings. Comp sparingly and use space. All too often piano players (or guitarists) utilize the full tonal range of their instrument with huge chords (bass, mid and treble notes) and all kinds of extensions and alterations without listening to what the melody suggests or what others are playing which makes the comping pretty ineffective and counterproductive. Comp lightly with two voice or three voice chords. Use many spaces so that the music can breathe. I hate the cacophony of sounds that I hear at so many jazz jams. 
  • If you are in the rhythm section/backline do NOT take a solo on every tune, especially not if there are many players out there that want to play. Reshuffle the backline regularly when there are more rhythm section players.
  • Find out if your musicall skills more or less match the general level of the jazz jam. Otherwise it can get embarassing. Check out first what is going on before you leap on that stage. Some jams are great for beginners, others not so. 
  • Play a few tunes and then get off that stage. Nothing is as annoying than a guy that is on that stage all night. Two or three tunes will do. Then leave the stage for others to play.
  • One of the most annoying mistakes made by musicians in jam sessions is to take too long solos. If your solo doesn't really fly, end it, there will be another tune. But if you really feel your solo comes directly from outer space, do carry on!
  • Learn some tunes that you love, and do them. It is probably not a good idea to sit in on tunes that you don't know. If everybody on stage is buried with their head in their Realbook or iPad, chances are that the interplay is not going to be that great.
  • On ballads split up the head and solos into half choruses so the tune doesn’t go on too long. The standard “road map” for AABA ballads is typically to split up the melody in half by two different players, have two players solo half choruses, and then jump to the bridge melody out.
  • When a singer joins you on the stage, play just ONE short solo and let the singer shine. I always pity the ladies that have to wiggle their butts on the stage for minutes on end without singing. It can get really embarassing. 
  • Call standard tunes and do them generally the standard way. No one wants to hear Carla Bley tunes with no bar lines performed at the speed of light. Do not take your own tunes for others to play.
  • Remember the solo order so when trading fours come up. Not always will the bassist be involved. 
  • Bring your own instruments. Guitarists and bassists can probably use the amps on stage, but ask before you plug in.

The Complexity of the Bebop Language

Playing bebop convincingly is pretty hard. It requires both talent and hard work. It usually takes a number of years, dedication and motivation to develop a jazz voice that is worth listening to. And IMHO, without a really healthy dose of talent it will be next to impossible to play it on a creative and advanced level, no matter how many hours you put in. It is that hard. So, never take great jazz music or accomplished bebop musicians for granted. Bebop is a pretty demanding language to learn and requires a lot of commitment. If you think that is an elitist view you have clearly never studied it yourself.

I came across this clip on the tube that perfectly addresses the issue of the complexity of the bebop language. I like especially the following quote that is in it: "It took Bill Evans 53 seconds to improvise the following chorus on May 6 1964. In it, there is a lifetime of information to study."

The analysis of the improvised chorus by Bill Evans shows what is meant here. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Some Benson Insanity Transcribed

George Benson is one of the hottest bop players on the planet. When he plays bop that is :) I showed his insane chops on "Take Five" earlier here in my entry about the Ibanez FG 100. That video must be one of the hottest jazz guitar videos on the tube, if not THE hottest. Check it out.

Some of Benson's best straight ahead jazz playing can be found on a 1973 album, recorded live at the Casa Caribe club. George is supported by George Duvivier on bass, Al Harewood on drums and Mickey Tucker on piano. Here's "All the Things You Are" from that album that I found on the tube. Chops galore:

Of course you want to play that classic Benson solo so here's the transcription of the single line section:

    9 Years later, in 1982 Jimmy Smith recorded an album called "Off the Top" with a super supporting cast consisting of George Benson on guitar, Ron Carter on bass, Stanley Turrentin on tenor and Grady Tate on drums. The album has some pretty unusual tunes on it but the title track features a totally amazing bop solo by George featuring some insane triplet playing. Wow. Just wow. I found the full track on Youtube:

    For those that think they can pull it off (haha, no way, Jose) here's a transcription of that killer solo. It includes the fingerings even. The man is something else.

    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    A few Andreas Oberg Licks

    Andreas Oberg (1978)  is surely one of the best European bebop players. And a pretty hot gypsy player too! As a kid he took up the guitar and aged 16 he took his first jazz guitar lessons. In 1998 he started his studies at the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm from which he graduated 4 years later. In 2004 he released his first album. These days he is a a very successful writer and producer of pop songs in Asia too and he runs his own on-line guitar school. 

    The guy has some serious chops and likes to put his speed on display. He must be one of the fastest guns in guitar bop town. "I've never liked players who hit the strings hard except for some of the gypsies who does it naturally on acoustic. I like players who play clean and relaxed at all speeds like George Benson."

    The following track is from his 2005 album : Young Jazz Guitarist". Bop till you drop!

    Flavio Barba has transcribed some of his II-V licks. He gave me permission to post his video and his transcriptions here. Very nice stuff. Thanks Flavio! Watch the vid and then check out the charts.

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Free Online Jazz Real Book


    Click here for a free online Jazz Real Book I stumbled upon with over 1300 chord charts that can be transposed to any key. Very much like the iRealbook app I use on my iPad. However, this one is free. There is also an accompanying app for your iPadcalled iGigBook but that one is not free.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    Cherokee revisited

    I posted John McLaughlin's guitar take on Cherokee earlier here. That take has always been quite inspirational to me. It kind of surprises me that not all guitar players seemed to like it when I posted it on a jazz guitar forum. I think it's phenomenal. But fast playing is not everybody's cup of tea so it seems. It is mine though.

    So I love that tune. To me it's the epitome of bebop. Although it was a hit for the Charlie Barnet Orchestra in the 1930s, “Cherokee” wasn’t really considered a vehicle for jazz improvisation until Charlie Parker began experimenting with substitutions over the changes. He was already studying it when he was just a teen. Here is a magnificent take from 1943:

    If you want to play it too, you will find a full transcription of the Parker solo below.

    And here's a another Parker solo on Cherokee played on guitar:

    Gary Mulligan wrote about Parker and this tune the following: "Somebody sent me a little bit of tape that had Bird playing at home when he must have been maybe seventeen years old … of course he was playing “Cherokee.” This was his number, man, he worked on that thing for years ... It was not just a little accident that it came out the way it did." In 1945, Parker wrote "Koko", his own tune based on the chord changes of Cherokee.

    Here's Stochelo Rosenberg playing it:

    By the way, Don Byas recorded a truly amazing rendition of Cherokee in 1946 that even blew away Bird:

    The difficult part of this tune lies in its tempo and in navigating the descending ii-V’s on the bridge . It is is a jam session war-horse (but somehow not in the jams I attend haha), usually played at “tempo de bitch” (quarter note= 250 b.p.m. or more). It is often a vehicle for guys desiring to display their technique by playing lots of very fast notes and is therefore hardly ever played by beginners or amateurs. Kind of like Coltrane's "Giant Steps" ..., which I personally find way, way harder.

    Anyway, here's a short take on Cherokee I did myself some 6 months ago.

    And, as promised, here's the transcription of the 1943 Parker solo:

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

    The Gibson ES 350t

    I had a 350t for almost 10 years. Sold it november last. It's a guitar you hardly ever come across with. Most jazz guitarists do not even know of its existence. That's a bit of a pity, for it is really a fine thinline archtop with a pretty classic Gibson sound.

    Of course the ES 350t was based on its predecessor, the full sized ES 350 which was introduced in 1947 as a cutaway version of the earlier ES 300. The ES 350 was 17" wide, had 1 P 90 pup, a trapeze tailpiece with pointed ends, a triple bound top and back, single bound peghead and fingerboard, double-parallelagram fingerboard inlays, crown peghead inlay, gold plated parts and was available in sunburst or natural finish. From1948 onwards it was fitted with 2 P-90 pickups, 2 volume knobs on the lower treble bout and a master tone knob on the cutaway bout. It is the guitar Tal Farlow played on his classic 1950s recordings. The ES 350 was replaced by the ES 350t in 1956.

    Gibson ES 350
    The Gibson Byrdland model - basically a thinline L5 CES with a shorter scale neck of 23.5" - was an immediate hit in 1955 so that Gibson rushed another new thinline guitar into production. Christened the ES-350T, the new guitar retained the unique design of the Byrdland with its shorter scale, but added a figured laminate maple body to reduce feedback, increase sustain and improve durability. After a pair of prototypes were built late in 1955, Gibson produced a small but historic run of ES-350T guitars in 1956, the first full year of production. Chuck Berry turned it into a rock & roll guitar in the later 50s. In 1961 the ES 350t it received a pointed cutaway but the model was discontinued in 1963.

    Gibson ES 350t
    In 1977 the ES 350t was re-introduced but now with a full 25.5" scale neck and rounded cutaway. It has been in and out of production ever since. Especially in the early 90s, a number were produced.

    I noticed that many people seem to think that all  ES 350t models have a short scale but that is not true. All re-issues of this model since 1977 carry the normal full scale 25.5" neck with 1 11/16" nut width.

    Mine was a 1992 model and I considered it to be my "thinline" Tal Farlow model. More or less the same specs, only thinner. That said, the guitar is not so thin as a 335 and sounds pretty much like a full sized archtop. It's very comfortable to play with the classic laminate Gibson sound, kind of in between a Tal Farlow or ES 175. A guitar deserving wider recognition and a great gigging laminate archtop.

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    John Mclaughlin's "Cherokee"

    I am not a Mclaughlin fan per se but this clip sure kicks ass. It features a burning rendition of "Cherokee" played by John in a 1985 apperance on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" with the "Tonight Show Band." The whole thing was transcribed by Tony Dean. Fantastic playing!

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    The Most Important Jazz Guitar Recording of All Time

    I purchased my copy of the "Penguin Guide to Jazz" in 1996. It was the 1994 edition. At the time I was compiling a CD collection of jazz recordings and I used this book to find out what the most classic jazz albums were. The book is defined as follows by Wiki:
    The Penguin Guide to Jazz is a reference work containing an encyclopedic directory of jazz recordings on CD which are currently available in Europe or the United States. The first nine editions were compiled by Richard Cook and Brian Morton, two well known chroniclers of jazz resident in the United Kingdom.
    The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings is now firmly established as the world's leading guide to recorded jazz and the 10th edition appeared in 2010. Reviewing over 11,000 CDs, some 200 of them have been selected as the "Core Collection", "a basic library of jazz records which readers on a budget or those who wish for only a small holding of jazz CDs might consider as their first-priority purchases". So basically, these albums are considered the most essential jazz recordings.

    I could not find the 2010 list but click here for the complete core collection list of the 2008 edition.

    Of course, interesting for us jazz guitarists is which jazz guitar recordings are seen as essential enough to appear in the core collection. Well, the answer is a bit disappointing: not that many. Few jazz guitar recordings are seen as important enough to make it to this list. I only found 6 recordings by guitarists:
    • Wes Montgomery: "The incredible Jazz Guitar of"
    • John Scofield: "Quiet"
    • Joe Pass: "Virtuoso" (1973)
    • Grant Green: "The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clarke"
    • Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden: "Beyond the Missouri Sky"
    • Kenny Burrell: "Ellington Forever"
    Depending on the edition, the core selection varies a bit over the years but Wes and Joe always seem to make it to it. Surprisingly, Django was not on the 2008 list. My two favourites of this list are "Incredible Jazz Guitar" and "Virtuoso." But there is no doubt in my mind that Wes' "Incredible Jazz Guitar" is the most essential one of the essential jazz guitar ones in the core collection. So here it is for you to listen to. The most important jazz guitar album of all time? There's certainly a number of arguments to be made for this album. But it remains a debatable issue.

    Let's play some Joe Cohn

    Let's play some Joe Cohn. Here's a transcription with Tabs that was done by Paul Mitchell Brown. The track is from the 2004 valbum "Cool" by the Jay Leonhart Trio. The album was recorded in the drummerless trio format that I dig so much. Joe Cohn is fantastic throughout.

    Here's Joe's solo on "Nobody Else but Me". Thanks Paul!

    And here's a full playlist for the album on Spotify:

    Two Funky People

    In an earlier post I mentioned this album as a personal favourite. Time to pay some more attention to this great jazz guitar recording and share a playlist of it. In 1997 "Two Funky People" was actually Joe Cohn's (son of tenor saxophonist Al Cohn) debut album. He chose to record it with fellow jazz guitar great Doug Raney. Like on the previous two guitar date I wrote about (Windflower with Herb Ellis and Rermo Palmier), Doug gets as much space as Joe. The result is a very enjoyable beboppish jazz guitar recording.

    Joe Cohn - Guitar
    Doug Raney - Guitar
    Dennis Irwin - Bass
    Barry Ries - Drums

    Here's what David Adler wrote about the album:
    Guitarist Joe Cohn is the prodigiously talented son of famed tenor saxophonist Al Cohn. Some may find it odd that on his debut recording fellow guitarist Doug Raney appears alongside him on many of the tracks. The two-guitar format is somewhat reminiscent of Joe Pass's recordings with rhythm guitarist John Pisano, although here Raney is quite prominent throughout as a solo voice. Telling the two guitarists apart will in fact require a good deal of concentration on the part of most listeners. In general, Cohn is the faster and more rhythmically adventurous of the two; his tone is brighter and more dry than Raney's. One would have hoped for more of a Joe Cohn showcase rather than a date on which another guitarist, a second "funky person," practically shares top billing. That said, both Cohn and Raney are fantastic straight-ahead players and they make beautiful music together, aided byDennis Irwin on bass and Barry Ries on drums. Four of the tracks are seldom-played gems by Al Cohn, including the title track. Another, "Motion," is by Doug Raney's famous father, Jimmy Raney. (Perhaps it is the famous dads connection that brought these two together.) Other tracks include the classics "But Not for Me," "Solar," "Days of Wine and Roses," "Ask Me Now," and "Serenata." Thad Jones's mid-tempo burner "Quite Sip" is Cohn's one trio feature, and a great one.
    Listen to the album on Spotify (11 tunes):

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Some useful channels with jazz backings on the Tube

    In the old days I used to play along with Band In a Box a lot. Later on I switched to the iRealbook on my iPad. These days, whenever I need a backing track, I just type in what I need in Youtube and I am very likely to find it there. Here's a few useful channels for backing tracks that sound ok. The tracks were made with Band In a Box 2014. There's a lot more backings on the Tube but somehow I keep on returning to these two. I hate midi sounds but BiaB has used samples of real instruments for a few years (Real Tracks). The guys that created these two channels use these.


    Windflower Herb Ellis and Remo Palmier

    Windflower is an album that Herb Ellis recorded in 1977 together with Remo Pamier. Actually Herb was the leader on this date but Remo gets as much space as he does.

    This is my favourite Herb Ellis album and kind of special to me. I remember getting it from the music library in the early 1980s, taping it on cassette, and playing it over and over again in my car stereo on my way to college. I was not playing jazz at the time (and would not be doing so for over a decade) and was still in rock bands, but I loved the sound of jazz guitar already and this album was one of a few that kindled my interest in the genre.

    Listening back to it today, I still think "Windflower" is a fantastic album. Herb is really playing at his strongest on this album and the interplay with Remo - a very fine player -  is superb. 

    I somehow never found it available for listening on the internet - it's not on Spotify or Youtube except for a single track that I added below- but today I discovered the whole album it on Grooveshark. And the good news is you can listen to it without the annoying ads that you find on Spotify. Click here to listen to the entire album on Grooveshark. Click "play all" and enjoy some gorgeous jazz guitar sounds. To me, it's a bit like going home. 

    Here's "Stardust" from the album: 

    And here's a review of the album by Scott Yanow: 

    "This album is most significant for being the first jazz recording in a few decades by guitarist Remo Palmier (who was also known early on as Palmieri). Fellow guitarist Herb Ellis was the leader but he gives his guest just as much solo space as he takes and, with the tasteful accompaniment of bassist George Duvivier and drummer Ron Traxler, the two old friends challenge each other on a variety of appealing chord changes including "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes," "Close Your Eyes," "Walkin'" and Jobim's "Triste." The success of this boppish set led to Palmieri getting his own Concord album the following year."

    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    Ibanez FG 100 versus GB 10

    I came across the video below that compares the sound of the Ibanez FG 100 to the sound of an Ibanez GB 10. The guy uses the same settings and the same amp, you can actually see him switch guitars. I think this video easily demonstrates why the FG 100 is so underestimated as a guitar. Both guitars sound fine but .... if you read all the replies you will see that most prefer the FG 100 sound wise, including the owner doing the test. You will find many vintage Ibanez lovers and especially guys selling these lawsuit Ibanez guitars raving about the 70s lawsuit Ibanez L5, the Ibanez ES 175 and the Ibanez Byrdland from that period or even the GB 10 but the vintage FG 100 from the early and mid 80s? Most people do not even know it. My guess is, the real winner may well be the one mostly ignored ... Much cheaper too. For now. Under the test video I added a clip of Bruce Forman playing an FG 100. In an earlier post about the FG 100 I added a spectacular clip of George Benson playing one. Missed it? Click here. You do want to see it. Easily the hottest jazz guitar clip on the Tube :)

    Monday, July 7, 2014

    Joe Pass Simplicity 1967

    Joe Pass recorded this gorgeous album in 1967. Though a bit on the "easy" listening side, it is a total gem. The album was beautifully recorded and Joe's guitar sound is top notch, on a par with the earlier 1960s albums "For Django" (click link for full album) and "Joy Spring." This album is not so well known as these classic titles but if you haven't heard "Simplicity" yet, you are in for a treat. The personell is:

    Joe Pass – guitar
    Hagood Hardy – vibes
    Julian Lee – piano, organ
    Bob Whitlock – bass
    Colin Bailey – drums
    Listen to the 11 tunes here:

    Jim Hall Trio "Jazz Guitar" 1957

    I have always had a soft spot for drummerless trio recordings. I have written about Tal Farlow and Billie Bean in this format earlier. I happened to come across this Pacific Jazz album on Youtube and liked it immediately. It features Jim Hall's' debut as a leader in 1957. Jim is accompanied by Red Mtichell on bass and Carl Perkins on piano. It is very much a bebop date. A lovely album with that great 1950s vintage sound. I could not help smiling when I read one of the comments under the video: "How could such a talented jazz mofo look so much like my kid's dentist?"

    Track list for the album:

    01. STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY (Sampson-Webb-Goodman)
    02. THINGS AIN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE (Ellington-Mercer)
    03. THINGS AIN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE (Alternate Take)
    04. THANKS FOR THE MEMORY (Robin-Rainger)
    05. TANGERINE (Schertzinger-Mercer)
    06. STELLA BY STARLIGHT (Washington-Young)
    07. 9:20 SPECIAL (E.Warren)
    08. DEEP IN A DREAM (Van Heusen-Burke)
    10. SEVEN COME ELEVEN (Goodman-Christian)
    11. TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT (Bock-Holofcener-Weiss)