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  1. #1
    This is a live clip of Grover and his top flight band doing "Mister Magic". Eric Gale takes a solo at 2:29 and I'm just not feeling it. For me (and I am no expert), it sounds disjointed and kinda start-stop-ish. Gale was clearly a top player and a studio pro that was on the original recording, so he knows the changes. The YouTube comments are glowing about his solo and even Grover looks pretty stoked by it when Gale winds down. Am I missing something? Is there some harmonic or rhythmic content that is going over my head? I'm just wondering what I am missing - if anything.



    Grover Washington Jr.
    Eric Gale
    Richard Tee
    Paul Griffin
    Anthony Jackson
    Steve Gadd
    Ralph MacDonald

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  3. #2

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    Nothing wrong for me. He insists on rhythm and repetitions, with a basic vocabulary that fits the genre of the song.

  4. #3

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    1) Music is a subjective thing. Mostly, Eric Gale's playing has just never really done it for me. I have occasionally heard some of his work that I liked, but ... mostly not. What does do it for me is what Drew Zingg might do :-)

    2) As for Grover looking stoked, what's he gonna do... give Eric the stink-eye? Some players might, but most would not, as a matter of showmanship as well as professional courtesy.

    3) Youtube comments? Really? Like youtube commenters know anything about music? See also point 1)

  5. #4

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    Sounds like a jazz guy suddenly asked to play a blues solo on a jazz box with flatwounds.

  6. #5
    We used to call this tune Mr. Tragic kind of like starting off with All Blues and telling the audience this is super advanced jazz improv! The non musician might buy it but more advanced ears would not. These players had a commercial formula from the seventies with often Atlantic records under the name Stuff was one group with Cornell Dupree on guitar as well. Eric Gales can play more advanced harmonies when he needed to but I would say HE WAS PLAYIN THE GIG!!!

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Sounds like a jazz guy suddenly asked to play a blues solo on a jazz box with flatwounds.
    That's what it sounded like to me as well. He sounded like he was sitting in on the wrong gig.

  8. #7

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    There were no ‘changes’ to speak of during his solo, it was just a simple 2-chord vamp. So he played what was basically a blues solo, and he built it up quite nicely to a climax with repeated high-note figures. Seemed like a good solo for the context, to me.

    I once saw Eric Gales and as I recall a lot of his playing was like this. He certainly didn’t play any bebop type stuff.

  9. #8
    Maybe Eric is more of a feel, groove, and rhythm guy, because I am not feeling his playing on this solo. I figured he was trying to go for the blues with the bends and motifs, but his phrasing wasn't terribly smooth and there were a lot of clams when he tried to speed things up and it made the timing go wonky. Maybe the blues is not really his wheelhouse.

  10. #9

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    Nothing "wrong" with the solo, and I wished I were as "wonky" as he was. If you don't like it, find another video -- no biggie.

  11. #10

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    That live version is much faster than the version on the album. It's more hectic and I don't think the pocket is nearly as deep. It's the entire band, not just Eric Gale. But I like how is playing is hard and spikey, kinda over in the James Blood Ulmer realm.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy
    Nothing "wrong" with the solo, and I wished I were as "wonky" as he was. If you don't like it, find another video -- no biggie.
    I get what you mean. I am still learning jazz and I'm still working out what I hear. Things like outside playing and sophisticated harmonies can confuse my ears. I love Grover, so I guess I expected to love Eric too and thought maybe I was missing out on something. No worries. I guess it just wasn't to my taste and that's alright.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by SandChannel
    I'm just wondering what I am missing - if anything.
    I guess you are not appreciating/enjoying all that "grease" he is laying down.

  14. #13

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    While it's not the greatest solo in the world, I think the solo is appropriate for the gig. This is no bebop gig and he plays no bebop solo.

    Anyway, when you say you don't "feel it" is that just slang to confuse a poor non-native speaker or does it mean that you have no emotional relationship to it? That's fine. Apart from the fact, of course, that you were annoyed enough to start a whole thread about one fairly standard guitar solo.

    BTW Grover plays the same kind of stuff but of course a tenor sounds more emotional than a 175.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    Anyway, when you say you don't "feel it" is that just slang to confuse a poor non-native speaker or does it mean that you have no emotional relationship to it? That's fine. Apart from the fact, of course, that you were annoyed enough to start a whole thread about one fairly standard guitar solo.
    First, when I say I'm not feeling it, it means that I am not connecting to it.

    Second, I was watching the Grover clip and looking forward to hearing the guitar solo and it fell flat for me. So when I started looking through the YouTube comments, people were praising the solo so I thought maybe I was missing something harmonically. I'm not annoyed. I'm trying to learn.

  16. #15

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    No offense intended. It's fine wishing to understand why you don't enjoy a particular way of playing, saves you a lot of detours.

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    No offense intended. It's fine wishing to understand why you don't enjoy a particular way of playing, saves you a lot of detours.
    No worries. Music is art and although not all of it fits me like a glove, I want to be able to appreciate it and understand how others see/hear it. Color me curious.

  18. #17

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    I think one problem with these kind of things is coming to them with some kind of ‘advance expectation’ of what you like to hear. So a guitarist like Gale is always going to sound a little ‘rough’ compared to a slick sax player like Grover, it’s partly in the nature of the instruments for one thing. If you want to hear something fast and slick on the guitar, he probably won’t deliver it.

    I used to have similar problems when I first got into jazz. For example, I just could not stand bebop trumpet for some reason, it just sounded shrill and annoying to me at first. But when I heard some very laid back medium-register Lee Morgan solos (with Art Blakey) it opened my ears up a bit. Eventually I began to dig Dizzy as well as Miles, Lee, etc.

    So one way to widen your appreciation is to try and listen without your preconceptions getting in the way, try to enjoy whatever unique qualities that particular player and instrument have to offer, rather than what you ‘wanted’ them to offer (if you see what I mean).

    I actually enjoyed that Gale solo more than I thought I would. I just accepted he plays it like a blues with a few ‘rough edges’ (rather than some kind of slick bebop etc) and I liked that, for what it was, in that context.

  19. #18

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    @SandChannel, for fun, post a video of a solo that you enjoyed! [I probably have a couple hundred saved on my YouTube account!]

  20. #19

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    Yeah perhaps Grover picked him primarily as a rhythm cat and a good foil solo wise. Horn players don’t hear guitar players in the same way. I think a lot of things we obsess over as guitarists they don’t hear at all.

    Perhaps someone with Benson level chops might not have been right for the band (not that many had/have Benson level chops.)

  21. #20

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    Also that sound is really unforgiving; close mic dry amp. I think in the space it would have sounded different.

  22. #21

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    Plays the tune right, imho.

  23. #22

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    I never suffered from the fact, that I did not like something what I "should"...(by any mean, and for any reason) There are so many other things to love, so what? The impro sounds OK, no more, but there is no reason to neither explain what's wrong with it neither what the listener is missing if he do not get it.

  24. #23

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    I think it’s an interesting question actually. People hear differently and you can learn a lot from how other people hear.

    The way you hear music will be the most important influence on how you play it...

  25. #24

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    Sounds like a fine bluesy solo to me and which is appropriate for the tune. At times (3:45 to 4:00) it reminded me of Duane Allman (check his solo on "I'm Going Down Slow") - which is the best compliment I could ever give in this genre!

  26. #25

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    Eric Gale was a great player. I doubt that he'd call this one of his best solos.

    Early in this solo it sounds like he isn't warmed up. Or he isn't relaxed enough to execute his ideas. He flubs some notes with his left hand and he screws up some fast picking with his right hand. Even harder to relax after doing that with a big audience.

    Possibly, he couldn't hear himself well and ended up picking too hard, with the result that the notes sound choked off.

    The dry tone doesn't help this solo IMO, although I think that's the way he usually played. He's trying to play a wailing blues solo with long sustained notes on a guitar that isn't designed for that.

    I also hear parts of the solo as lagging the groove.

  27. #26

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    eric gale was never really a burner...he was a rhythm chops specialist..him and cornell dupree wove some nice guitar lines in stuff...but was never known for blazing solo playing

    his distorted lead tone from a full hollowbody doesn't help either

    mister magic was not groundbreaking jazz..it was aimed at the dance/disco crowd...very formula nyc cti sound...with that typical of the era steve gadd drum sound...bah

    cheers

  28. #27

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    I thought he did about as well as could be expected, given how repititious the song was. Disco era music.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Sounds like a jazz guy suddenly asked to play a blues solo on a jazz box with flatwounds.
    This

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I think it’s an interesting question actually. People hear differently and you can learn a lot from how other people hear.

    The way you hear music will be the most important influence on how you play it...
    This is probably true, and exactly this is because it should not be a goal. I mean learning too much how others, especially the mainstream hear, points to the direction to a statistical equalization in hearing, then playing. Maybe understanding is overrated. Maybe many artists never understand what others, the listeners "understand into" their creations.

  31. #30

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    I don't think the OP is missing anything. It's a pretty perfunctory solo. (Then again, who hasn't played a solo that felt like ten blind thumbs in search of a groove!) But Eric Gale could, and did, do better. I always thought his solo on the Grover Washington album version of "Trouble Man" was pretty good. Nothing too fancy, but some very tasty (and spacey) jazz-blues licks -- kind of Kenny Burrell with a side order of psychedelia. Gale's solo starts about 1:45.


  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor
    This is probably true, and exactly this is because it should not be a goal. I mean learning too much how others, especially the mainstream hear, points to the direction to a statistical equalization in hearing, then playing. Maybe understanding is overrated. Maybe many artists never understand what others, the listeners "understand into" their creations.
    Maybe, but I think there’s a typical nature vs nurture element to this. I think I was always drawn to the stuff I was drawn to by temperament.

    Most in the ‘mainstream’ don’t hear like musicians anyway. Which is not to say what they hear is worthless (actually I think learning to pop for instance on its own terms has taken me a long time after getting into more ‘complex’ music.)

    I agree that understanding is also not just overrated but to some extent essentially impossible. You always place yourself into the act of listening; this is why learning solos etc is actually a process of self discovery, not mere imitation.

  33. #32

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    Yeah, well you notice this kinda thing a lot, all over the world, and probably for many decades - Smoking hot Jazz players burning it up with their solos until the guitarist's solo, which sometimes is "high school blues jam" level that any rank amateur guitar player would recognise, and yet, the other players, and perhaps much of the audience, probably think it's high level playing or something!

    Often wondered why that is, perhaps it's because they expect different sounds and ideas to come from guitar players, you know, those box shaped pentatonic riffs that amateur noodlers love and the same ol' bendy licks you learned in your first month of playing. Sounds embarrassing to guitar players who outgrew that stuff ages ago, but in the 60's and 70's it was a hip new sound to some, which is why you hear a lot of Grant Green doin' the "Boogooloo" even though the dude obviously had some decent hard bop chops.

    Oh, and I still notice amazing sax players talk in serious admiration of this kind of rank guitar playing, as though they don't recognise that entry level blues noodling is as common as muck. They also fail to realise that what high level sax playing entails is perhaps a thousand times more interesting, difficult, and compelling when compared to the 3 lick wonders out there .

    Yeah, I know some of you will find this offensive because you feel the Eric Gale solo was fine, but it has long been a pet peeve of mine when I see a hot jazz band with a lame guitar player who is obviously bluffing their way into the gig. The other players are A+ players, but the guitar whacker is a D-, and no one seems to notice or care. If the piano or horn players were only, say, B+ standard, they wouldn't have made it past the audition!. Ya feelin' me?

  34. #33

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    Or another, more respectful way of looking at it is that a pro guitarists job is to play rhythm guitar really really well and anything else is the icing on the cake.

    Plenty of burning soloists out there, but great rhythm guitarists? Always in work.

  35. #34

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    Oh man I absolutely LOVE this solo! Everything about it- the tone, the phrasing, the vibe- even some imperfections sounds great. I love guitarists who attack the instrument, rather than smooth playing. Albert Collins, Frank Zappa, they would totally dig this!

    If someone can find that as bad guitar playing I def at odds with the guitar community. I guess what most people like, I don't, and vice versa.

  36. #35

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    On the top posted video and the Montreux concert with Stuff. I felt he was more or less noodling.

    He seems much more engaged as a band leader. It’s mostly a bunch of blues licks, but a crowd-pleaser.

  37. #36

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    He’s most definitely engaged on his 1988 album with Ron Carter.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Can you help me understand what I am missing in this solo?




    I agree that solo suited the piece as much as anything would, except many players would have blasted it a hundred times better and more excitingly.
    Who do you have in mind? Who would do 100 better?

    I can't help but think many would prefer someone like Larry Carlton in this style, and to me what he represents is a middle of the road, very predictable and anti-exciting solos. Just not inspiring at all. I take Eric Gales solo any day over some pseudo blues shit.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Over pseudo blues, obviously, but not over jazz at a jazz festival. They're playing Bloomdido. That's a bebop number by Charlie Parker! Not Elmore James!

    If they only play jazz at jazz festivals there would be no crowd. Anything that swings or grooves is fair to be featured. Very few care about bebop or purity of jazz, including me.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    I agree, but I'm not being purist, it was just the wrong kind of blues for a jazz number. Repeating it makes it sound like I care desperately... but I don't :-)

    Who do I think could have done it better? Um... I'd take Scofield or Metheny, probably.
    Oh well, if only Sco and Metheny could have done better, Gale did a bloody good job.


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  41. #40

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    I like the other recordings posted. Vibey player.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Over pseudo blues, obviously, but not over jazz at a jazz festival. They're playing Bloomdido. That's a bebop number by Charlie Parker, not John Lee Hooker!

    Errr... have you been to any jazz festivals?
    Last edited by christianm77; 11-01-2020 at 06:06 AM.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    I agree, but I'm not being purist, it was just the wrong kind of blues for a jazz number. Repeating it makes it sound like I care desperately... but I don't :-)

    Who do I think could have done it better? Um... I'd take Scofield or Metheny, probably.
    Def not Metheny lol. Sco would done good, but different of course. Nah, Eric Gales just fits better on this. IMO and for my taste.

    I kinda care, because imagine you have a sound in your head that you trying to achieve and aspire to play, and then find out that this sound and style considered faulty or something. Not jazz, cant play at jazz gigs like that wow, ok, turn out never cared to play jazz then?

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Yeah, well you notice this kinda thing a lot, all over the world, and probably for many decades - Smoking hot Jazz players burning it up with their solos until the guitarist's solo, which sometimes is "high school blues jam" level that any rank amateur guitar player would recognise, and yet, the other players, and perhaps much of the audience, probably think it's high level playing or something!

    Often wondered why that is, perhaps it's because they expect different sounds and ideas to come from guitar players, you know, those box shaped pentatonic riffs that amateur noodlers love and the same ol' bendy licks you learned in your first month of playing. Sounds embarrassing to guitar players who outgrew that stuff ages ago, but in the 60's and 70's it was a hip new sound to some, which is why you hear a lot of Grant Green doin' the "Boogooloo" even though the dude obviously had some decent hard bop chops.

    Oh, and I still notice amazing sax players talk in serious admiration of this kind of rank guitar playing, as though they don't recognise that entry level blues noodling is as common as muck. They also fail to realise that what high level sax playing entails is perhaps a thousand times more interesting, difficult, and compelling when compared to the 3 lick wonders out there .

    Yeah, I know some of you will find this offensive because you feel the Eric Gale solo was fine, but it has long been a pet peeve of mine when I see a hot jazz band with a lame guitar player who is obviously bluffing their way into the gig. The other players are A+ players, but the guitar whacker is a D-, and no one seems to notice or care. If the piano or horn players were only, say, B+ standard, they wouldn't have made it past the audition!. Ya feelin' me?
    Thinking about how to express myself on this one, I read your post and felt like you read my mind. That solo sounded like he was struggling in every way - tone, timing, concept, phrasing, and feel.

  45. #44

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    Can you help me understand what I am missing in this solo?-playing-shop-jpg

  46. #45

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    Eric Gale indeed looks tensed up and not content with what he is doing.
    The spot is not comfortable - an up tempo 2 chord vamp with 'disco feel'.
    What could work back then with a guitar: bluesy phrasing + bends requiring lots of sustain or sustained fast runs ala Blackmore or some really strong lines.

    He seems to be trying to do all 3, but neither gear nor his style fit.

    Said that, as a way to say 'hello' to the audience the solo is totally fine. There are not too many discerning guitar players and the groove of the band is strong, so I'm sure nobody cared

  47. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy
    @SandChannel, for fun, post a video of a solo that you enjoyed! [I probably have a couple hundred saved on my YouTube account!]
    Sure - I can even do one better. This track also features Gales, but I really dig his solo on this one. It is kinda strikes me as Benson meets Burrell but rougher around the edges. (Starts right around 1:50)


  48. #47

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    He's shooting for Santana-style lines using the wrong tools, IMO. Hand that same archtop to Benson and he would kill it.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by SandChannel
    Sure - I can even do one better. This track also features Gales, but I really dig his solo on this one. It is kinda strikes me as Benson meets Burrell but rougher around the edges. (Starts right around 1:50)

    This is the same guy, playing the same style, but, on the record, he's executing his ideas whereas in the live clip he was clearly having some physical difficulty. It's the kind of thing that happens if you're too cold, or not sufficiently relaxed, or if you can't hear everything in balance, if your gear sounds bad to you because it's not adjusted properly, you're not feeling well etc.

    One of the hallmarks of a pro player is that he sounds good even when all the planets are aligned against him. That's not a comment about Eric Gale, though. I don't know what was going on in this performance. And, his comping on Mr. Magic is one of the great bits of rhythm guitar ever, IMO.

  50. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    This is the same guy, playing the same style, but, on the record, he's executing his ideas whereas in the live clip he was clearly having some physical difficulty. It's the kind of thing that happens if you're too cold, or not sufficiently relaxed, or if you can't hear everything in balance, if your gear sounds bad to you because it's not adjusted properly, you're not feeling well etc.

    One of the hallmarks of a pro player is that he sounds good even when all the planets are aligned against him. That's not a comment about Eric Gale, though. I don't know what was going on in this performance. And, his comping on Mr. Magic is one of the great bits of rhythm guitar ever, IMO.
    The Mr. Magic clip I posted was the last song played into an hour and 15 minute set, so I would hope he was warmed up by then. Maybe he just wasn't feeling it? I dunno. Gales sounds great on the records, but I would guess that most of these guys are studio players and nail a song in a take or two. I haven't listened to him live that often so I was surprised that he sounded (IMO) off. I guess I figured that these studio hawks would sound the same in front of a crowd.