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  1. #1

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    I've been invited to join a band focused more on R&B/jazzy and smooth jazz type songs than certainly anything resembling straightahead jazz. It might be a nice change of pace and some new things to learn. The problem is that I have really never listened much to either R&B or smooth jazz, except casually when it turns up on the radio or something like that.. Other than George Benson, who at least my ears is the prototype smooth jazz guitarist, I'm not sure who else I should be listening to in terms of guitarists. Any recommendations as well as tips for playing this particular genre of music?

    My first tunes to learn include Green Aphrodisiac, Trouble Man, What's Going On, Let's Stay Together, Feel Like Making Love, Free, Betcha By Golly Wow, Affirmation.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    You might find listening to the stax back catalogue useful. Snd that includes the blues brothers. Steve cropper is a master. The swampers too out of muscle shoals.

    For more modern tones, the neo soul stuff of erykah badu, John legend and deangelo. I have a playlist of this stuff and a terrific book called fundamental changes in neo soul.

    While I was googling the author I found this page

    Neo Soul Guitar Lesson - Fundamental Changes Music Book Publishing

    Hope it helps.

    (You might also check out mike stern, snarky puppy, boukou groove and Jon Cleary).

    Let us know how you go.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #3

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    Haven't heard of Green Aphrodisiac but know the others.
    About 15 yrs ago I was invited to join a band that played jazz and r&b.
    I learned a ton of tunes and found that many r&b tunes were very challenging/had a million chord changes and were very hard to play, especially tunes by Chaka Khan, Earth Wind & Fire, Teena Marie, etc.

    Have fun, you'll probably enjoy it.

  5. #4

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    Cool, I'd go for it. Much needed optimistic grooves. Just hope they don't ask you to sing harmony on Green Aphrodisiac

  6. #5

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    Hi, C,
    I cut my teeth on R@B/Soul/Funk music and played professionally through the 60's/70's as a guitarist/saxophonist. This music is a natural progression to Jazz and the changes ,as Wintermoon mentioned, can be very challenging in some songs. Also, proper articulation is important where many songs use syncopation playing horns against the rhythm section or the reverse. If I were exploring that genre as a novice, I'd start listening to Cornell Dupree's playing who dominated the studio scene in R&B forever and is the quintessential R@B guitarist. I recently noticed he even has done some excellent tutorials. Some artists you must listen to are: Al Green, Sam and Dave, Rufus Reed, Wilson Pickett, Luther VanDross, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Etta James, Luther Vandross, Aretha, and last but not least . . . Brother James Brown. This music has a lot of meat and potatoes and in the big cities across the US was the training ground for my generation of Jazzers who needed steady work. Here's Cornell . . . I hope this helps you!
    Play live????? . . . Marinero


  7. #6

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    If you have Sirius XM put it on Soul Town Channel 49 and listen to it nonstop.

    There is virtually never a bad song on that station, and some incredible funky guitar playing.

    Also listen to Grant Green’s interpretations of Soul classics for a bit of an entre from the jazz world to soul.

  8. #7

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    Hey, thanks, everyone this is great! Yeah, some of the charts I've gotten so far have a lot of changes in them, including some unique modulations. It ain't simplistic music. When listening to the recording the changes are not necessarily called out as distinctly- or maybe directionally would be a better description- as in many jazz tunes. I like the description of "optimistic grooves." Thanks for the pointer to Cornell and the reminder about GG.

  9. #8

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    "When listening to the recording the changes are not necessarily called out as distinctly-" Cunamara

    Hi, C,
    That's because in R@B, your not playing a steady rhythm like in Rock, CW, or other Pop music. It's a more Jazz-Like approach where you inject tasty licks with chords that do not necessarily fall on the beat. The drums and the Bass keep the beat. That's why listening is so important. Here's one of my favorites-- "So Tired of Being Alone," by Al Green. Listen to the guitar in the background.
    Play live . . . Marinero

    https://youtu.be/i-F4janxKEw

    If this doesn't play, paste above link on YT. This is a great example. M

  10. #9

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    Don't ignore the early electric blues guys like T-bone Walker, and Charlie Christian's style fits that bag very well too. Johnny A may have some ideas you can steal.

  11. #10

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    Here is some sage advice from Jeff Baxter about playing rhythm, a clip from a video he made in the 90s.


  12. #11

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    Just a follow up, actually the stuff is really great! Thank you so much, it's been very helpful. I've spent most of the afternoon checking these things out and feel like I have my feet on a little bit more solid ground.


    It's funny, so many of these songs were hits during my lifetime but I have never really paid that much attention. The sound has always been a little smooth for my taste, but delving into this has been really interesting. Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks!

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Just a follow up, actually the stuff is really great! Thank you so much, it's been very helpful. I've spent most of the afternoon checking these things out and feel like I have my feet on a little bit more solid ground.


    It's funny, so many of these songs were hits during my lifetime but I have never really paid that much attention. The sound has always been a little smooth for my taste, but delving into this has been really interesting. Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks!
    Learning new tricks is how young pups get to become old dogs.

  14. #13

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    You will have lots fun. Some things to maybe look at or think about coming from jazz...

    With R&B tunes, you can grasp the form and progression changes, and still throw the tune by getting rhythms wrong; even a good jazz guitarist, maybe especially a good jazz guitarist. I would suggest there are two types of rhythm problems particular to R&B to watch for.

    One is not nailing certain rhythms peculiar to a certain song that makes it "that song". These can be subtle despite perhaps having heard the song for decades. Check the song deliberately listening for these quirks of authenticity that will be noticed if missing or "off".

    The other is specific differences in rhythm that play signal roles in the tune - a slight but important change that differentiates for example whether you are about to repeat the A section or have already done that and are now proceeding into the B section. In jazz this is done all the time by the drummer owning the form and subtly signaling with a vocabulary of kit sounds. In R&B these too are subtle things but more often may be harmonic signals of which we generally might not be aware, but their absence will be noticed. So sometimes this signal is not a rhythm change but a slight change in a chord harmony. "Let's Stay Together" does this when it descends from Am to D7; it does it twice and those D7 harmonies are slightly different. The first one sounds like, "let's do that again", the second one sounds like, "we're going to Gm7".

    The changes not necessarily being clear may come from voicing. Some R&B and lots of funk use a motif where for example over a four chord series of different changes, four different chords are played, but they are voiced as little three note chords in such a way that only two distinct forms are played on the guitar. That is, two of the chords (to different harmonies) are expressed by the same identical three notes and fingering, and the other two chord harmonies expressed by another single three note fingering. These changes can be done very fast and lends the "tricky" sound of funk and some R&B where the bass guitar is determining the change harmony under the ambiguous chords of the guitar. Don't attempt to "fix" it by playing more definitive chord harmonies and in general don't even think about reharmonizing any but the very few tunes built to withstand it (there are a few).