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  1. #1

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    REVISED JANUARY 2017:
    We're starting with "Blues in C", the first solo (five or six choruses) from Herb's book "Swing Blues." We're going four bars at a time. (Four bars per week.) Posts videos of your progress and comment (constructively, please) on the posts of others. Talk about trouble spots, realizations, whatever. [Go to page 12 or beyond for most current posts]

    REVISED DEC 2016:::: The emphasis is on what we can learn from Herb's playing / teaching and what we can do with it.


    Herb Ellis published three books late in his career that comprise the Herb Ellis Jazz Guitar Method. Those books are: “Swing Blues,” “Rhythm Shapes,” and “All the Shapes You Are.” (See links below.) In them, Herb makes use of what he calls the “Shape System.” What the heck is that?


    “The 'Shape System' relates melodic ideas to basic chord shapes instead of relating them to endless scale patterns, modes and arpeggios. This convenient and simple approach saves the player from the drudgery of practicing scales in all positions, including all of the unnecessary, awkward and impractical fingerings. In addition to being an efficient use of practice time, this system allows the player to sound more natural and musical instead of sounding like somebody playing scales.” (From “Swing Blues,” page 4.)


    I love these books and now know some others are using them. A study group would be a good way to encourage practice, share results, and give as well as receive feedback. (No one is required to post audio / video for review by others, but I hope most take advantage of the opportunity.)


    We would start with “Swing Blues.” This book features 3 solos by Herb: “Blues in C” (-five choruses), “Bounce Blues” (in F, six choruses) and “Bay Blues” (three choruses of slow blues in Bb).

    The Herb Ellis Jazz Guitar Method : Swing Blues: Herb Ellis, Terry Holmes: 0029156204568: Amazon.com: Books

    The Herb Ellis Jazz Guitar Method: Rhythm Shapes: Herb Ellis, Terry Holmes, Harry A. Hess: 0029156204551: Amazon.com: Books

    The Herb Ellis Jazz Guitar Method: [b*] All the Shapes You Are: Herb Ellis, Terry Holmes: 0029156204544: Amazon.com: Books

    A book that has come out since this thread started:
    Amazon.com: Best of Herb Ellis: Artist Transcriptions for Guitar (9781480383647): Herb Ellis: Books

    In case you're wondering whether Herb's shapes are the "CAGED" shapes, the answer is no. They are closer to the "FAD" shapes Fred Sokolow uses in his "Fretboard Roadmaps" books. Herb doesn't name the shapes. In the books, they are "Shape 1, shape 2, shape 3..." You may call them whatever works best for you.

    A taste of Herb's approach to the blues:

    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 01-17-2017 at 09:07 PM.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Glad to hear it, Jeff!
    Let's give this a day to see who else wants to join and then we'll get started. (Others may start later, of course.)

  4. #3

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    I'm in. I've spent ages cherry-picking random lessons from the web and I'm getting nowhere. This will give me a specific lesson regimen to work from.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by lazybones
    I'm in. I've spent ages cherry-picking random lessons from the web and I'm getting nowhere. This will give me a specific lesson regimen to work from.
    Great! Welcome aboard.

  6. #5

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    I just ordered the book. Let's do this.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whirly
    I just ordered the book. Let's do this.
    Great! It's officially on, then.

    Tomorrow, I'll make a post a short vid, show some of the shapes and demonstrate a few lines so that some of those who aren't sure what the heck we're talking about will have a better idea. Maybe they'll join us.

  8. #7

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    I already own the three books, but I just picked some licks here and there... I think some method in my approach would be a great thing! You can count me in.

  9. #8

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    I just bought the book from Amazon, and will try to follow along.

  10. #9

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    Hi Me too

    Alan

  11. #10

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    I have some old Herb Ellis books but not these...I'll have to check them out....

    I've gone through about 100 books or more in my 50 years of playing the guitar ( and 15 other instruments)..methods...single note playing...chords & progressions...rhythmic etudes...improvisation..etc...

    need some new (more) material to go through as if I did not have enough...

    I learned the "shape system" from a Charlie Christian article some years ago..it really works...

    Luck to those signing on to this endeavor...

    time on the instrument...

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by pierre richard
    I have some old Herb Ellis books but not these...I'll have to check them out....
    Pierre, I would love to see those other Herb Ellis books. I've seen them mentioned here and there but I think they've all been out of print for decades. If you check out the more recent stuff (---published in the '90s), I would love to hear how they compare with the older material. I would imagine there's much overlap: it's not as if he changed styles in his '80s.

  13. #12

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    A disciplined approach ...... staying focused ....... maximizing practice time ...... I bring none of these attributes to my love of jazz improvisation. Just ordered the book on Amazon. I'm in!

  14. #13

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    Sorry, I'm already up to my eyeballs in the Van Eps trio of books "Harmonic Mechanisms for the Guitar." I'm on page 44 after about 2 months of daily study and practice...about 900 more pages to go to finish all 3, which at this pace will take me another approximately 45 months. This is on par with what Steve Herberman told me - that it took him about 5 years to go through all 3 of those books. I gotta long road ahead of me.

  15. #14

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    Hi Mark

    I have the blues shapes book from the 80's and a video from the same era (I don't have a vid player any more though) the vid is on the net somewhere . If you can't get the old book I could scan and email it too you

    Alan

  16. #15

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    As of now I can't afford the book for these lessons. But I will follow this thread and hopefully gleam some information from the postings.

    So....I guess you could say I'm semi-in.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by edh
    As of now I can't afford the book for these lessons. But I will follow this thread and hopefully gleam some information from the postings.

    So....I guess you could say I'm semi-in.
    Semi-in is better than completely out!

  18. #17

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    While we're at this, who here is adept with music writing software? For this group, something that makes (chord) diagrams would be ideal. If we all (or nearly all) have the book, it's not needed, but I would like to post a few shapes for those who don't have the books so they could see what we're up to, maybe join in....

    I downloaded MuseScore, which is free, but frankly, I suck at using it. (That's mainly for the Chordal Pattern System material...)

  19. #18

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    I'm interested.... but I made a New Years Resolution to not buy any more music books this year until i worked through some very specific 6 month goals i've set. Luckily i've stuck to them so far, so I guess i follow along and see what happens...

  20. #19

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    Me in as well!

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by djangoles
    I'm interested.... but I made a New Years Resolution to not buy any more music books this year until i worked through some very specific 6 month goals i've set. Luckily i've stuck to them so far, so I guess i follow along and see what happens...
    Ha! I've made that same resolution before, though not this year. This year was different: in December I bought the Garrison Fewell book, about which I've heard no end of great things, and that was going to be my focus but as it turns out, I haven't opened it! Instead, I'm working on my picking (-adopting the Benson technique, with the aid of Fep, Philco, setemupjoe and others on a thread devoted to that topic) and going over the Carol Kaye / Herb Ellis material. If I get my picking ironed out, I'll be okay; otherwise, nothing new is going to go as well as I'd like.

    As for Herb's stuff, you can pay attention and pick up things without it interfering with anything else you are studying. It's not that strict a system. One of the best things about it, though, is that Herb's book indicates fingerings and that's important to how he plays. Not that he has a weird fingering system but I've noticed more than once that, "Hey, I don't think that fingering is a good one," only to realize later it was better than the one I thought was "obvious". Anyway, stay tuned and see if there's anything helpful to you in what we do.

  22. #21

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    I'll throw my hat in here. I'm back to learning jazz guitar after a few years off the instrument, played for 25 years now I guess, but never had the gumption to really sit and learn theory and such. Herb has always been one of my favorites, so seems like a good place to re-start. I've got a copy of the Swing Blues book, so time to delve in.

    One of my favorite albumns is "Triple Threat", and I'm in the process of transcribing Herb's guitar on Body and Soul. I'll post that somewhere around here if anyone's interested. Herb seems like a great place to start learning, he's so tasteful and doesn't seem overly complicated in his playing.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Welcome! I don't have "Triple Threat." Would love to see a transcription of Herb soloing over "Body And Soul." Love that tune. YouTube offers a video of Herb and Barney Kessel playing that---good stuff
    IMO Herb's treatment of the head of Body and Soul is the best I've ever heard. That video is pretty similar to the record. Triple Threat is highly recommended for anyone who is a fan. His solo on When Lights Are Low is also one of the best.

  24. #23

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    If you get on to the other books, especially "All the Shapes There Are aka All the Chords There Are," real title "All the Things You Are by Jerome Kern", there's a book by Mimi Fox called "Arpeggio Studies on Jazz Standards" that takes you further, in that it helps you deal with m7b5, 7b9 7+ etc. They should be part of the same course. It also gives guidance on superimposing what seems to be an unrelated chord over the given chord to come up with all the outside extensions. If anything it's less "down home and bluesy", (my real reason for liking Herb's playing) and more bop oriented.

    Hope this helps.

  25. #24

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    Just another thought.
    When you try to imitate Herb and sing what you want to play, do you end up like me and sing what you're playing?

  26. #25

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    This thread is coming back to life...I find the 'Shapes' book to be hard to get started on - not sure why but the instructions suggest just getting a quick feel for the various lines in the first part, but to then concentrate on getting the full solo off, note for note. I've learned solos from others before but somehow this one seems difficult to listen to (the sonics are a bit harsh on that CD) and I'm not grabbed by it enough to follow that instruction fully - prefer to work on the various lines over specific chords.

    Agree, the Mimi book is also helpful, if you have the discipline to work through the arpeggio studies. Ha, I think discipline must be my problem