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  1. #1

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    'Un-guitarist'---it's what I call myself and some other players. I like the approach, not falling into the standard guitar 'ghetto' moves: licks; patterns that are ONLY of the guitar, not jazz generally---or, worse still, music.

    Don't get me wrong: I love; am grateful for; and have worked to develop the orchestral qualities of (unique to) our instrument. We can be chordal in soloing; self-sufficient in solo playing; and more homogeneous, less 'leading' than piano in a rhythm section (depending on the players, natch).

    So I am in no way ashamed of our instrument and proud to be even a supernumerary in a grand and noble tradition.

    That said, how do we eschew the obvious choices----what Bob Brookmeyer called the 'vanilla fudge' areas on an instrument that are easy; fun; and SAFE? The venerated way has been to be horn-like when soloing: simulate an air column with more LH (not picking every note); glisses; spacing (i.e. 'breathing'). My own model has been flugelhorn---it's just what I hear: a darker; full sound. Speaking just for and about myself. But many of our favorites from earlier generations adopted many iterations of the horn-like approach in single-string soloing and melody playing, and very successfully. It became 'of the guitar' when the chord thing was added in and not so much of it when it wasn't. Some notable single-string soloists (Jimmy Raney; Grant Green) seemed not that interested in chordal playing except when necessary. Everyone had to do 4 on the floor---it's part of the tradition and an important foundation. They functioned in rhythm sections as rhythm players. But soloing it was the horn approach and chords were a 2nd cousin.

    The game changed somewhat with the influence of rock, a guitar-driven music. Guitar in jazz picked up on this and became more, well, guitar.

    Going back to Brook's comment, typical licks and patterns that lay easy are mother's milk on ALL instruments---'go-tos'.. We all have heroes and---hopefully mainly while still young and developing---'cop'. It's how we learn. But we have to eventually find our voices and I think it good to look past the 'hood' for ideas. Composition is a great pathway, I've found,. (And, interestingly, if one writes at the piano, but isn't an actual pianist, the obvious on THAT instrument can be side-stepped).

    I'm just putting this out as food for thought. Do players here think about this stuff? Sometimes feel frustrated? Not frustrated but thrilled with their guitar-driven paths?

    Thoughts?...

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2
    A guy I greatly admire very much for his assiduous self-belief and courage in not doing the obvious---yet who is totally grounded in tradition---is Dom Minasi. I speak to him once in a while and regret we've not yet gotten together. But I hope we do---it'll open me up some. I'm too set in MY way...

  4. #3

    The other end of the pole---and just as much a potential trap: forcing 'originality'. If it doesn't come by evolving, being grounded in what was there and for good reason it well may be a mere head trip. Charlie Parker warmed up with Pres solos and added so much to the blues. He was a grounded revolutionary. Sonny Rollins could get so 'out' it could make your head spin---AFTER he did reams of HW on more mainstream materials. Bill Evans and Jim Hall evolved in a quiet; undramatic way, but they did evolve. Some people are happy to embrace and develop the music they fell in love with while young---Barry Harris, for one. Nothing at all wrong with that( hell, Barry jammed with Bird as a teen, said hearing him was 'orgasmic; worked with Pres and Bean; lived with Monk---that set the bar pretty high)'---as long as a player doesn't trash the other folks' paths...

  5. #4

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    "Do players here think about this stuff? JoelF


    Well, J,
    You might have me on your "ignore list"( a la the Facebook and Twitter model) and that's just fine but you bring up a serious question that many "players" never consider and should be part of a musicians daily thought process . . . namely, is Music a Sport or an Art? Many respondents here are maniacally focused on speed, modes, formulaic progressions, chord-mania, etc. as if these constitute Art. They do not-- any more than the ability to write a legible sentence or to draw a realistic flower exemplifies Fiction or Visual Art. They are skills/tools but they are not the goal. The goal is to find YOUR personal voice and YOUR ideas to tell a story through music. And, how you do this depends on your personality, talent, and creativity. So, if you prefer the chordal vs a linear approach, develop your personality within that context. They are ONLY the vehicle you use to communicate to an audience. My biggest gripe about Music/Literature, and Visual Art today is that very few, if any "artists", have anything to say. They all sound the same--- play the same riffs, same turnarounds, same progressions, same endings . . . same, same, same . . . just boring. I have made it a point to devote an hour a day to new/young talent to be open-minded but with few exceptions . . . it's just Campbells Soup. And, why do you think that 90% of the discussions on this forum focus on musicians long dead or no longer playing? Where are the young Miles', Chets', Dexters', Coltranes', Wes', Grants', Zoots', etc. that we should be talking about? And, if they're there, why doesn't anyone know about them? The answer is simple: we have created generations of predictable Music Machines and their robotic voices represent what is taught in music programs and the lionshare of pablum that has inundated Youtube. You'll never develop unique players unless they have the ability to play live and with other players on a regular basis. And, when we took Jazz out of the ballrooms, taverns, and nightclubs into concert halls and Youtube, the public lost interest in the music so that today less than 1.4% of Americans listen to Jazz. Jazz is dying. Without dilettantes and musicians who hold on with their fingernails and support this unique music, it will be a blip on the screen for serious Art throughout the ages. By the way, has anyone here read Miguel de Cervantes????
    Play live???? . . . . Marinero

  6. #5

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    Interesting that you should cite flugelhorn as a tone example. I started on trumpet and was later lateraled into French Horn. My ideal ballad solong tone has always been a blend of the two. I first achieved this with a P-90 driving a 40 watt Traynor Bass Mate driving 6 - 10" speakers in the contex of a sextet + vocalist ensemble where 100+ watt amps were the norm. Later I was sable to get the same warm, sustaining tone with beefier set-ups. But the feel of that horn-like sound is highly inspirational for me.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    "Do players here think about this stuff? JoelF


    Well, J,
    You might have me on your "ignore list"( a la the Facebook and Twitter model) and that's just fine but you bring up a serious question that many "players" never consider and should be part of a musicians daily thought process . . . namely, is Music a Sport or an Art? Many respondents here are maniacally focused on speed, modes, formulaic progressions, chord-mania, etc. as if these constitute Art. They do not-- any more than the ability to write a legible sentence or to draw a realistic flower exemplifies Fiction or Visual Art. They are skills/tools but they are not the goal. The goal is to find YOUR personal voice and YOUR ideas to tell a story through music. And, how you do this depends on your personality, talent, and creativity. So, if you prefer the chordal vs a linear approach, develop your personality within that context. They are ONLY the vehicle you use to communicate to an audience. My biggest gripe about Music/Literature, and Visual Art today is that very few, if any "artists", have anything to say. They all sound the same--- play the same riffs, same turnarounds, same progressions, same endings . . . same, same, same . . . just boring. I have made it a point to devote an hour a day to new/young talent to be open-minded but with few exceptions . . . it's just Campbells Soup. And, why do you think that 90% of the discussions on this forum focus on musicians long dead or no longer playing? Where are the young Miles', Chets', Dexters', Coltranes', Wes', Grants', Zoots', etc. that we should be talking about? And, if they're there, why doesn't anyone know about them? The answer is simple: we have created generations of predictable Music Machines and their robotic voices represent what is taught in music programs and the lionshare of pablum that has inundated Youtube. You'll never develop unique players unless they have the ability to play live and with other players on a regular basis. And, when we took Jazz out of the ballrooms, taverns, and nightclubs into concert halls and Youtube, the public lost interest in the music so that today less than 1.4% of Americans listen to Jazz. Jazz is dying. Without dilettantes and musicians who hold on with their fingernails and support this unique music, it will be a blip on the screen for serious Art throughout the ages. By the way, has anyone here read Miguel de Cervantes????
    Play live???? . . . . Marinero
    Yeah, this IS a real Pandora's box alright. I estimate several pages...but it will be revealing if not productive. But we should get it out of our systems.

    VERY FEW here even mention the music industry for starters and how that industry strears listening choices.

    I like everything written above and suggest reading it a few times.

    So, I'll start...WHAT IS OUR ARTFORM?

  8. #7

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    Some one was asking why we dont hear other music styles and innovation any more and the sad fact is producers and radio dont play it, they want something that is known and accepted in the public. So they dont take chances on producing or playing the music that is off beat and unknown. As far as myself I started out on drums and tried trumpet and piano, so when I started playing guitar after a year I was playing how I felt if I was angry I would play angry, if I felt calm and relaxed I would play that way you see where this goes. Now when I stop playing for a while I come back to the guitar and try approaching it at a different way like playing it in a style a horn section plays and there phrasing, or how a piano is played with its phrasing. Today when I play Blues I will do the different styles of blues in one song Chicago, Texas, Memphis I will even mix up the Keys I play in from Blues to minor to Major switching each up after each turnaround. So lets say I start in a Chicago Blues in E then after the turnaround I go to a Texas Blues in A then after the turnaround I will switch to a R&B in a Memphis style in G Major and then switch it up. and Thats just one way I play.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    Interesting that you should cite flugelhorn as a tone example. I started on trumpet and was later lateraled into French Horn. My ideal ballad solong tone has always been a blend of the two. I first achieved this with a P-90 driving a 40 watt Traynor Bass Mate driving 6 - 10" speakers in the contex of a sextet + vocalist ensemble where 100+ watt amps were the norm. Later I was sable to get the same warm, sustaining tone with beefier set-ups. But the feel of that horn-like sound is highly inspirational for me.
    And I've been TRYING to play trumpet since January---making very slow progress, if any. But I couldn't help myself. One reason (rationalization?) was for the orchestration skills and insights I'd gain---also got a clarinet, but trumpet is so hard to get a handle on later for any other new axe. But I was pulled in by the sound, and my long background of being inspired by the players---especially those with darker tones. So now it's lip buzzes; long tones; and a teacher---and we'll see...

  10. #9

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    Dylan had a line in his composition.."tombstone blues"..

    "..The city fathers, they're trying to endorse
    The reincarnation of Paul Revere's horse
    But the town has no need to be nervous.."

    I agree with Miles..I dont like the term "jazz" very much..it doesn't describe the entire history of the music that it is said to be

    and yes..marketing would have us believe..if it tastes like sugar..then sugar it is..but many musicians are classified as "jazz" players but are not
    recognized by "real" jazz musicians and followers..seems a bit strange to say jazz is dying - or dead already - when the term itself keeps being "reincarnated"

    as for "new" music..from one of the above posts..the listener gets bored with the predictable direction and feel of the music they listen to..

    reminds me:
    .." a group of people are bending over...looking at the ground .. seemingly searching for something under a single street lamp..
    when asked what they are looking for..several responded ..a house key was lost several blocks away..
    which begged the question..ahh..so why are you looking for the key over here?...
    and the reply was irrefutable...well..there is no street light over there..

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    I first achieved this with a P-90 driving a 40 watt Traynor Bass Mate driving 6 - 10" speakers in the contex of a sextet + vocalist ensemble where 100+ watt amps were the norm. Later I was able to get the same warm, sustaining tone with beefier set-ups. But the feel of that horn-like sound is highly inspirational for me.
    The P-90 was the sound for sure: big & round, and screw the pickup noise.

    Amps never figured much in the equation for me. Amps only do what they're named for: amplify what's already there. I have 3 for different purposes, but I promise you I sound just as flugel-like on my acoustics. It's what goes on between the 2 hands that will be filtered through an amp. Regardless of which amp I set the treble low and mid to bass higher. Charlie Christian, the original guitar-hornman (well, after Eddie Durham, who was that literally and played with a pickup before CC) beckoned when I was 17 ('it was a very good year....') so I guess I'm not such an un-guitarist. No more or less than he was.

    I find the modern post-Metheny players way more dependent on amps and pedals for that horn simulation and also WAY more 'of the guitar'. And why wouldn't they be? We all were rock and blues kids. (I'm the same age as Pat). I found it an interesting turn of events when Jim Hall pedaled up. He wanted to move forward, and I can dig it, but I think the results were mixed. He allowed IMO lesser players to influence him, out of honest creative boredom. His '89 solo recording had an over-dubbed waltz with a beautifully used synth in the melody. I'd love to try that myself---new sounds can be a real pathway to musical breakthroughs (or a trap if over-done or pursued as an end in itself). But at one of the last concerts of his I attended he was playing a blues and at the end of a chorus this master composer was fiddling with the next pedal rather than the next story chapter. And know what? He was entitled. But I wonder if he himself didn't get bored with it after a while.

    We're all tempted to 'chase Lorelei' in the form of various baubles. They glitter and attract us. But Lorelei always seems to get away. Careful (a Jim Hall title)...

  12. #11

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    I figure if I can get the guitar to sound good as a guitar someday, I might try some other approach

  13. #12

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    My favorite guitarists are guitaristic: Charlie Christian, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Jeff Beck, T-Bone Walker, BB King, Danny Gatton, James Burton, Keith Richards, Chuck Berry, the list goes on and on.

    I remember hearing Jack Wilkins once talk about having been frustrated because he couldn't do on guitar what someone he admired could do on the piano. Some guitarists have piano-envy. Some have horn-envy. I prefer the guitar to piano and to horns.

    I like chords, chord stabs, percussive strumming, funky riffs, bends, slides, double stops, searing melodic lines, flashy outbursts, raunchy riffing, banjo rolls, the occasional power chord. I like a guitar that sounds like a guitar. (There are many ways to sound like a guitar.)

    To play like any other instrument would be to give up too much that I love about the instrument I chose to play.

    Music is not an instrument. It's a result.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    My favorite guitarists are guitaristic: Charlie Christian, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Jeff Beck, T-Bone Walker, BB King, Danny Gatton, James Burton, Keith Richards, Chuck Berry, the list goes on and on.
    OK---but ALL the jazz players, and most of the blues players, on the list were somewhat to very horn-influenced.

    It's no terrible crime to sound like your chosen instrument or another. Different strokes.

    The real 'crime' is not to sound like yourself...

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by JaxJaxon
    Some one was asking why we dont hear other music styles and innovation any more and the sad fact is producers and radio dont play it, they want something that is known and accepted in the public. So they dont take chances on producing or playing the music that is off beat and unknown. As far as myself I started out on drums and tried trumpet and piano, so when I started playing guitar after a year I was playing how I felt if I was angry I would play angry, if I felt calm and relaxed I would play that way you see where this goes. Now when I stop playing for a while I come back to the guitar and try approaching it at a different way like playing it in a style a horn section plays and there phrasing, or how a piano is played with its phrasing. Today when I play Blues I will do the different styles of blues in one song Chicago, Texas, Memphis I will even mix up the Keys I play in from Blues to minor to Major switching each up after each turnaround. So lets say I start in a Chicago Blues in E then after the turnaround I go to a Texas Blues in A then after the turnaround I will switch to a R&B in a Memphis style in G Major and then switch it up. and Thats just one way I play.
    As to the first point: well. it's not as if that's something new. Money talks.

    Wes, I believe, and I THINK he acknowledged, that his block chord soloing was an attempt to play like a horn section doing shout choruses. Sure sounded like it. And if you've seen the interview in Canada he was raving about Nelson Symonds's work---especially his block chord soloing. He thought his was 'nothing' in comparison! (Wish I could have heard Symonds in his prime---the surviving vids sound good but nothing like what Wes was raving about. I'm sure he was right though).

    I heard Rodney Jones (who's a skilled arranger BTW) put himself playing chords ON TOP of a horn section. He was perfectly in tune and in synch----damn hard. I told him how impressed I was. Another player who gasses me continually is Anthony Wilson. I heard him do something akin to what Rodney did against or with horns arranged by dad Gerald. Cat knocked me out...

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    OK---but ALL the jazz players, and most of the blues players, on the list were somewhat to very horn-influenced.

    It's no terrible crime to sound like your chosen instrument or another. Different strokes.

    The real 'crime' is not to sound like yourself...
    If you play a guitar you sound like a guitar player. (The horn players influenced by Bud Powell don't start sounding like piano players.)

    Charlie Christian was very influenced by Lester Young and Charlie's first instrument was the trumpet but Charlie's playing is the definitive example of "guitaristic" (at least for jazz fans.) Django and Wes were thoroughly guitaristic in their approach too, and as Joe Pass said, they are the 3 most important jazz guitarists, period.

    "Sound like yourself" amounts to habits developed over years of playing music. (Practice, performance, discernment, vanity, humiliation, grudging acceptance of limitations, sporadic bouts of creativity...) It's not as if one's self has a sound prior to all that. Unless it is the sound of mush.

  17. #16
    OK Mark...

  18. #17

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    I like the guitar and the guitaristic things that people play. I always have, and know that millions of others do too. (make that billions)

    That said, I thought that Holdsworth and his saxophone approach to the instrument was absolutely phenomenal and brilliant - but how many players are going to attempt that, much less pull it off? (or hammer it on? ... ahem).

    Anyway, for one example of many, Stanley Turrentine’s recordings with Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, and various keyboard players really brought out the different expressive characteristics of each solo instrument, when played by masters.

    Assuming a good tone, melodicism is the greatest communicator to the listener, or so methinks.

  19. #18
    True dat...

  20. #19

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    When I listen to another player, on any instrument, with the intent to "evaluate", one of the things I notice is whether I'm hearing the geometry of the instrument. That is, the stuff that is being played because it's easy to play - with musical quality as an afterthought.

    But, I don't always listen that way and it doesn't always bother me, because great players can make great music in any number of ways.

    I have a mental-auditory-vision (vision can't be the right word here ... audition?) of what I want to sound like. It's a combination of a few things, none of which may be obvious to the listener. This is a distant dream, not an accomplished reality. It's the scream and cry of Santana, the stinging high notes of BB King, the soft melodicism of Jim Hall and Paul Desmond and the human voice, no particular singer. The notes are to be selected from internal scat singing, not based on the geometry of the guitar or practiced patterns. Did I mention that's aspirational? I do it as much as I can, which means slow enough and a tune I know well enough not to have to think about it.

    As for guitaristic devices in general, I've probably loved them since George Harrison started doing solo breaks for the Beatles. Help, She's A Woman, Nowhere Man etc. In jazz, there's a great moment in Concerto De Aranjuez sp? iirc where Jim Hall uses an open string as a pedal. Didn't bother me a bit.

  21. #20
    Nicely put...

  22. #21
    It really doesn't matter where it comes from. Good is good. A creative person takes what is good to him from others that he can adapt to his voice; mixes in what he has to say; puts it in a funnel---and it comes out him/her. I have a simple philosophy, and it also serves to bypass jazz elitism: Leave the 'door' open---BUT keep a broom close. That way you can sweep out the s%%t in the morning.

    But do leave it open and leave the rest to your ears and creative spirit...

  23. #22

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    Joelf,

    If I'm being honest, I find most guitar players a bit boring to listen to. Now, that doesn't mean they aren't that good and quite a few definitely wow me, but, I find myself mostly listen to piano and saxophone players.

    I've tried to learn some guitaristic stuff but, it's a struggle. Inevitably, I try and imitate (transcribe) Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins two of my favorite horn players. The results haven't been that great for me, though, so if maybe neglecting the guitaristic stuff isn't the way to go.

    If I had to do it all over, I would have stuck with saxophone which I played in h.s. But, I went through a rock phase and guitar is the instrument for that genre.

  24. #23

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    Someone here saying in a guitar forum that guitar players bore him? Pretty wild.

    I'm wondering if some of you guys listen to anything composed and played in the 21st century. There's a wealth of (youngish) players out there, doing all kinds of stuff.

    I haven't read all the posts in detail but for "unguitar" try Gilad Hekselman

  25. #24

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    I just wanna play what I hear in my head - in real time! I'll never get there but I still find it fun trying. I figure, If I hear mainly guitar players playing "guitaristic" things, then that's what I'd be hearing in my head. But I don't listen much to guitar players because they're not the most compelling players in Jazz - for me at least. Sorry. Horn envy? Piano envy? You bet! Add drums, bass and vibes if you like, and some vocalists too! Point is, to play what you hear is to play what you know, or what you've been listening to.

    Things in my musical imagination have coalesced, over the years, to a point where I honestly don't know the origin of what pops into my head anymore. Was it a piano line I've heard somewhere? A horn line?? Dunno, don't care, I don't hear an instrument - just music...

  26. #25

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    I like Reinier Baas and I can’t think of a guitarist who uses the guitar more and yet sounds original.