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  1. #1

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    Hey all,

    So distinct from the way of playing solo guitar using chord melody, the swing-era saw chord-melody guitar in a band context, often as an introduction or interlude, and occasionally with a proper solo. Having just transcribed 20 Allan Reuss chord-melody bits, I've realized how distinct what he's doing is from how I had approached the style when playing alone. So I figured I start a tread about specific this school of playing, and some of the cool examples of it.

    Starting off... my main realization of late has been how Allan Reuss, my favorite, is far less concerned with outlining the changes in his lower voicings, compared to how I do it, because I'm often thinking about playing alone. Allan often slides around major and minor triads, super imposing them over different changes. His lower voices don't "lay the pipe" of the harmony. A common trick of his: over a C7 or a Gm7/C7... sliding back and forth between a Gm and Am triad, along with a Bb and C triad. I'd be worried about not having a Bb in my C voicing to covey the "dominant" character. But Allan has a band to do that.

    Also, these little cameo chord-melody moments are often introductions, or interludes, or setting up a key change... so that's kind of it's own special thing...

    Here's example, which I just put up on Soundslice:
    John Trueheart's intro on "Lonesome Moments"
    John Trueheart - Lonesome Moments (intro) - 1934 - Chick Webb | Soundslice

    I hope there might be some other folks interested in this kind of thing. Cheers

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  3. #2

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    yes great
    deffo interested
    i love this style ....

  4. #3

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    Very much interested. I've learned some intros from you and Vinny Raniolo. Also the chord solo styles.

  5. #4

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    Here's another intro, this from Allan Reuss on Teddy Wilsons' recording of "Coquette" (1937).

    Allan Reuss - Coquette (1937) - Teddy Wilson | Soundslice

  6. #5

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    Excellent !!!!! Right up my alley at the moment and so useful for the stuff I play with the new swing group I'm in, thanks !

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    Hey all,

    So distinct from the way of playing solo guitar using chord melody, the swing-era saw chord-melody guitar in a band context, often as an introduction or interlude, and occasionally with a proper solo. Having just transcribed 20 Allan Reuss chord-melody bits, I've realized how distinct what he's doing is from how I had approached the style when playing alone. So I figured I start a tread about specific this school of playing, and some of the cool examples of it.

    Starting off... my main realization of late has been how Allan Reuss, my favorite, is far less concerned with outlining the changes in his lower voicings, compared to how I do it, because I'm often thinking about playing alone. Allan often slides around major and minor triads, super imposing them over different changes. His lower voices don't "lay the pipe" of the harmony. A common trick of his: over a C7 or a Gm7/C7... sliding back and forth between a Gm and Am triad, along with a Bb and C triad. I'd be worried about not having a Bb in my C voicing to covey the "dominant" character. But Allan has a band to do that.

    Also, these little cameo chord-melody moments are often introductions, or interludes, or setting up a key change... so that's kind of it's own special thing...

    Here's example, which I just put up on Soundslice:
    John Trueheart's intro on "Lonesome Moments"
    John Trueheart - Lonesome Moments (intro) - 1934 - Chick Webb | Soundslice

    I hope there might be some other folks interested in this kind of thing. Cheers
    This is a good one! I tried it also in G, first 2 bars with a D pedal, sounds really good too.

  8. #7

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    Great thread, Jonathan. I’ll be reading it to the end.

  9. #8

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    Nice. You can hear the influence this had on later players.

  10. #9

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    Hey all, I'm happy to keep thing going, but anybody got some favorites to share?

  11. #10

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    I always dug Hy White’s intros/ features on Woody Herman’s Blues Upstairs and River Bed Blues.

  12. #11

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    A favorite by Reuss with Jack Teagarden’s band:


  13. #12

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    Hi guys! This is my first forum post. Really interesting thread and I thought it would be great to contribute. Here is a really nice solo by George Van Eps. It's my first attempt at using Soundslice, so having a few stumbling blocks with the programme, but I'll try and do another transcription in this style soon.

    Cheers!

    George Van Eps - Dinner for One Please James - Ray Noble | Soundslice

  14. #13

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    Here is a nice two bar introduction to the Hoagy Carmichael song I Get Along Without You Very Well, played by the Lew Stone Band. Discogs lists the guitarist as Dan Perri?

    Dan Perri? - I Get Along Without You Very Well - Lew Stone & His Band | Soundslice

    I've been really enjoying listening to everybody's recommendations so far!
    Last edited by Dean7887; 04-23-2021 at 06:02 PM. Reason: Link didn't work

  15. #14

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    I thought I would add just one more - Carmen Mastren's solo on Squeeze Me, with Bechet-Spanier and The Big Four. This is one of my favourite solos by Carmen Mastren, who I believe is one of the most underrated players of the era.

    Carmen Mastren - Squeeze Me - Bechet-Spanier Big Four | Soundslice

  16. #15

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    Dean7887 is doing all the heavy lifting while I wasn't looking. Thanks for sharing all of these.

  17. #16

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    this is great guys ,
    im away from my guitar at the mo but
    will check these out in a couple of days

    great thread

  18. #17

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    Tracking down solos and interludes by some of these players can be tough because they were sidemen, so their name is never the "artist" to search for. A friend of mine put together this playlist of Allan Reuss tracks.

    All of the big solos are on here, as well as a lot of tracks where he's just playing nicely audible rhythm guitar.
    Allan Reuss, My Favorite Guitarist - YouTube

    The major ones to check out:
    "If I Could Be with You" BG 1936 (full chorus solo and there's also an earlier 1935 version with a different solo)
    "Rosetta" BG 1936 (bridge solo)
    "Love Me or Leave Me" BG 1936 (bridge solo)
    "Here's Love in Your Eye" Teddy Wilson 1936 (4 bar intro with one of Reuss's classic pet licks)
    "Judy" Lionel Hampton 1937 (intro, and two interludes - plus, he's basically soloing through the first chorus)
    "Rhythm, Rhythm" Lionel Hampton 1937 (half chorus solo)
    "Coquette" Teddy Wilson 1937 (4 bar intro)
    "Wolverine Blues" Jack Teagarden 1939 (half chorus solo - and there are two live airchecks of this arrangement, each with an early electric solo, months before Charlie Christian's debut)
    "Pickin' for Patsy" Jack Teagarden 1939 (a full feature "concerto" for Reuss)
    "Sorghum Switch" Jimmy Dorsey 1942 (intro, and outro solo, on electric)
    "Stuffy" Coleman Hawkins 1945 (bridge solo)
    "I'm Beginning to See the Light" Harry James 1945 (intro, interlude AND outro - quintessential Reuss)
    "You Know It" Corky Corcoran 1945 (full chorus solo - and there's an alternate take)
    "Lullabye of the Leaves" Corky Corcoran 1945 (great intro)
    All of the tunes with the Arnold Ross Quartet ft. Benny Carter 1946
    "I Never Knew" Peck's Bad Boys 1946 (full chorus solo)

  19. #18

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    Then there's this quick intro by a young Dave Barbour on Teddy Wilson/Billie Holiday's "Spreadin' Rhythm Around"

  20. #19

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    And here's another Carmen Mastren solo on "Four or Five Times" with the Bechet-Spanier Big Four

  21. #20

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    Wow, these are great Jonathan! I'll definitely be checking everything out on the playlist and I'll do my best to transcribe as many as possible in the coming months.

    I love the Dave Barbour intro and the Carmen Mastren solo on Four or Five Times is another favourite of mine. Here's my attempt at a transcription of it: Carmen Mastren - Four or Five Times - Bechet-Spanier Big Four | Soundslice



  22. #21

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    Here's some great playing on Moonburn. I think the guitarist is Bobby Sherwood:


  23. #22

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    Dick McDonough's playing is fantastic throughout this track:


  24. #23

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    Oh and I thought it would be nice to post a recording from this era by some fellow Brits. Here we have Albert Harris, Joe Young and George Elliott.

    Albert worked with Carmen Mastren on some of his published sheet music such as Two Moods and Lament in E, which can be found in the Masters of Plectrum Guitar book. In his later years he worked with artists such as Barbra Streisand, Cher and Roberta Flack. One of his classical compositions was even played by Segovia!


  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    So distinct from the way of playing solo guitar using chord melody, the swing-era saw chord-melody guitar in a band context, often as an introduction or interlude, and occasionally with a proper solo...Also, these little cameo chord-melody moments are often introductions, or interludes, or setting up a key change... so that's kind of it's own special thing...I hope there might be some other folks interested in this kind of thing. Cheers
    A terrible loss to the guitar community. I think they used to be called the Verse, while the main song was the Chorus. They're really a lot of fun.
    Your guitar intro reminds a little me of that singer who was famous for singing Vo-Dee-Oh-Do out of a cardboard megaphone.

    Here's a teaspoon of Eddie Lang:

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonc View Post
    I always dug Hy White’s intros/ features on Woody Herman’s Blues Upstairs and River Bed Blues.



  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean7887 View Post
    This is one of my favourite solos by Carmen Mastren, who I believe is one of the most underrated players of the era.

    Carmen Mastren - Squeeze Me - Bechet-Spanier Big Four | Soundslice
    Thanks for that. Bar 7 is spectacular in voicing and tone.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by StringNavigator View Post
    A terrible loss to the guitar community. I think they used to be called the Verse, while the main song was the Chorus. They're really a lot of fun.
    So, to be clear, we're talking about composed intros/interludes and chord-melody solos. The "verse" is an entirely different thing - it's a separate part of the tune written by the composer, often setting up the main part of the tune, the "chorus". They're often played at the beginning of the tune, but you might also see version where there's an instrumental chorus up top, and then the vocalist will come in with the verse, and then a vocal chorus.
    They start getting omitted in the 20's, and are mostly gone by the 50's, but don't mistake a composers Verse for some kind of arranged introduction.

    Here's Fats Waller's tune "A Porter's Love Song to a Chambermaid" - verse provides a narrative introduction... "Though my position is of low degree...", etc.
    And then the "chorus" starts on "I would be your...."


    Another example is "St. Louis Blues"... where there's a 12 bar blues chorus (the first one starts "I Hate to see, that evening sun go down..."), plus a 16 bar minor key verse (starts with the lyric "St. Louie woman with your store bought hair...". It's one of the rare verses people might play at the top, and perhaps come back to later.

  29. #28

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    And while I'm being an annoying pedant...

    As the Original Poster... can we keep this thread focused on chord-melody intros/interludes and (ostensibly) ad libbed solos with in a band context?

    While there is some overlap, I think there's something very distinctive and different about those swing-era intros/interludes and the (ostensibly*) ad-libbed chord solos, as compared to the composed/published solo guitar and duet pieces (say Kress/McDonough or something like George M. Smith's "Test Pilot"), or the kind of Eddie Lang-style... um... "Busy rhythm guitar".

    I think the composition and structure of pieces like Kress/McDonough or say George Van Eps's "Dick Bernstein Ramble"** can provide insightful things for doing chord-melody solos or composing intros and interludes, but they're kind of their own thing, and if somebody wants to start a separate thread, I'll be happy to read and post in it.

    Ditto, what I call "busy rhythm guitar" - the kind of mixed chord/chord-solo/fills rhythm guitar styles you see before four-to-the-bar rhythm fully evolved and took over - something worthy of it's own thread for sure....

    But some stuff we ought to talk about:
    - the extent to which triad shapes are superimposed over chords in different ways, providing different sets of chord tones/extensions. I notice that really overtly with Reuss... that his solos can almost entirely be a series of these triad-based moves, and so he's literally got like 4-5 chord forms he's using for everything.
    - how to set up key changes in this pre-bop harmony during an interlude.
    - the way there are sometimes some single notes mixed in
    - the kind of chromatic alterations/substitutions that seem to be stylistic hallmarks.

    *I say "ostensibly" because sometimes I just can't imagine how some of these players didn't have these solos a bit mapped out, because they're almost "too good". But other solos, it's clear they're fully improvising.

    **"Dick Bernstein Ramble" was mistakenly credited to Dick McDonough and bassist Artie Bernstein when it was first issued on LP in the 70's, but Howard Alden later learned it and happened to play it in front of George Van Eps, who was shocked at how Howard could've learned a thing he'd written but had never been released. Turns out it was really GVE and Bob Haggart on bass, but I don't know that we ever learned it's original title.

  30. #29

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    Jonathan, maybe this is too far afield, but I wonder if you could comment on the similarities between the solos and interludes you’ve described and pre-archtop/Eddie Lang banjo practice. It’s always seemed to me that the early jazz guitar masters brought their banjo techniques with them.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by L50EF15 View Post
    Jonathan, maybe this is too far afield, but I wonder if you could comment on the similarities between the solos and interludes you’ve described and pre-archtop/Eddie Lang banjo practice. It’s always seemed to me that the early jazz guitar masters brought their banjo techniques with them.
    Nah, man... perfect question.... The big thing is that I don't play tenor or plectrum banjo, so I'm sort of speculating. But it would make sense that if so many of them started on and/or doubled on banjo, that they'd have some connection to the technique. So, I'm a bit in the dark about what that actually means since I don't play banjo.

    But I will recount something Howard Alden said to me recently.... I'd just transcribed GVE's solo "Cherry" with Jess Stacy from 1950.
    This was the first transcription I'd ever done of this style myself (THANK YOU, SOUNDSLICE!), and while I felt good about most of the voicings, there were a couple bits where they could be conceivably played in two different places. I asked Howard if he'd take a look. He was kind enough to share with me his own transcription, and was quite excited that I'd gotten most of it right, though a couple things were in that alternative position.

    Howard explained that, coming from the banjo, that all things being equal... GVE would be more likely to stay on a given string set, and walk voicings up and down the neck, rather than to jump to another string set. So that piece of advice is all I've got in that regard...

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    Nah, man... perfect question.... The big thing is that I don't play tenor or plectrum banjo, so I'm sort of speculating. But it would make sense that if so many of them started on and/or doubled on banjo, that they'd have some connection to the technique. So, I'm a bit in the dark about what that actually means since I don't play banjo.

    But I will recount something Howard Alden said to me recently.... I'd just transcribed GVE's solo "Cherry" with Jess Stacy from 1950.
    This was the first transcription I'd ever done of this style myself (THANK YOU, SOUNDSLICE!), and while I felt good about most of the voicings, there were a couple bits where they could be conceivably played in two different places. I asked Howard if he'd take a look. He was kind enough to share with me his own transcription, and was quite excited that I'd gotten most of it right, though a couple things were in that alternative position.

    Howard explained that, coming from the banjo, that all things being equal... GVE would be more likely to stay on a given string set, and walk voicings up and down the neck, rather than to jump to another string set. So that piece of advice is all I've got in that regard...
    Thank you very much! I took up tenor banjo four years ago and was struck by the similarities between Eddie Lang and Harry Reser. I am trying to find a good example of a banjo doing the kind of thing you’ve outlined in this thread. Harry Reser probably did something, or Elmer Snowden; I will keep digging into it. It’s also fascinating to compare GVE’s style with what his father did on five string banjo.

    In any event, something like Picking For Patsy sounds like it would translate well from guitar to tenor or plectrum banjo. I started a thread over in Other Instruments to address the similarities without taking this one off the rails.

  33. #32

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    Maybe not exactly what you’re looking for but Bob Wills’ Maiden’s Prayer is another example. Eldon Shamblin has a few bars to set up the key change from the instrumental chorus to the new key for the vocal chorus.

    The Harry Volpe and Frank Victor book’s section on modulations is really interesting. Mostly I’ve found this book to be pretty unhelpful but the section on modulations is pretty cool. Like the rest of the book I wish they had more examples.