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  1. #101

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    Quote Originally Posted by tucson matt
    Johnny does just fine, it's the rhythm section that messes up - they play the changes to the 2nd A by mistake during the 1st A.
    I'm talking about after 3:00 into it when he's improvising. You're right about the piano player playing the A major 7th
    on the first eight, but Johnny panics and leaves out a bar on the second eight.

    Still, it's a great performance by JS of course, but that's what happens in live music sometimes.
    Because the guys have good ears, they get together after the mess ups.

    Guys who mainly play along with backing tracks aren't exposed to things like this, and might have a hard time playing live when f-ckups happen.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #102

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    You guys crack me up. If I could someday play 25% correctly the complex material he did I'd be thrilled.

    I get it though. When you are watching someone close to perfection, the errors stand out. With me, at the end of a tune I note with pride the stuff I did pretty well. That takes less time.

    JS used finger, wrist and elbow movements in his picking. He used both sweeps and alternates. I'd say his approach was eclectic.

    Today I was listening to Emily Remler's The Firefly. She's amazing in a different way and technically very gifted. She said she never concerned herself with picking technique. It was whatever happened naturally when she played.

  4. #103

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    I think its the bass player messing up, he's leading the changes too soon on both A's on the solo section, in the 1st A he descends too quick throughout, going to a tonic (there should be no tonic at the end of the first A)
    on the second A he rushes the harmonic tempo even more, making it 6 bars long!
    Or you could see those tonic bars at the end of the 1st A as the beginning of the second A - making the 1st A 6 bars and the 2nd A 8 bars...
    Johnny is a pro fitting in with that and sounding musical!
    Last edited by feral guitar; 01-07-2016 at 11:32 PM.

  5. #104

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    I was so happy to find this video on YouTube a few years ago and the couple others that are out there; the addition of the hour long interview this past year was just a treasure trove. I was introduced to Johnny Smith's music (and the Gibson namesake guitar) when I was in college and just starting to learn jazz- which was about three weeks into my first semester of guitar when my teacher was bored spitless with blues and cowboy chords. He was a Johnny Smith fan and had gotten a few lessons from him while in the military and posted to Colorado. JS was indirectly an influence on me from the beginning, although it was not until some of his recordings turned out on CD that I really started listening closely. The Mosaic set is a must-have resource.

    Lin Flanagan's book has fleshed things out considerably; hopefully he will someday be able to publish the sections on musical analysis, etc., that could not be included in the biography.

  6. #105

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    Quote Originally Posted by tucson matt
    I think its the bass player messing up, he's leading the changes too soon on both A's on the solo section, in the 1st A he descends too quick throughout, going to a tonic (there should be no tonic at the end of the first A)
    on the second A he rushes the harmonic tempo even more, making it 6 bars long!
    Or you could see those tonic bars at the end of the 1st A as the beginning of the second A - making the 1st A 6 bars and the 2nd A 8 bars...
    Johnny is a pro fitting in with that and sounding musical!
    Yea, Geo. Duvivier does play the tonic too soon, and the piano player goes along with him. It's always felt like an uncomfortable spot in the tune to improvise, because it stays on the dominant so long, so I usually try to use some subs there so it feels more natural.
    JS tries to get them all on the same page (although you can tell that he's confused by what's going on) by going back to the melody, and they all wind up together on the A major. It's smooth sailing from there.

    From reading Lin Flanagan's book at least twice, and hearing JS playing live on some of the Colorado things on youtube, you get the impression that JS liked things to be very orderly when he performed.

    He didn't like jam sessions(!), and he used the same arrangements when he performed at Birdland all of the time.
    I'd say this stems from his work as a country player and studio player.
    When he did play jazz at Birdland, it was always as a leader, so he had complete control of everything.

    Jake Hanna's wife, who studied and taught for JS, said she didn't know what JS was talking about when JS told her he wasn't a 'real' jazz player, until she asked Jake Hanna about it.

  7. #106

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    Hi..
    Johnny's hearing was VERY bad at the end of his life...... I called him about one month before he died.....and talked but it was so hard for him to hear me speak ..he would ask for me to speak louder and he also tried turning up his phone... After he died I called again and talked to his son.. John Jr.. and he told me that his Dad's hearing was so bad they had to yell at him in order for Johnny to hear them.

  8. #107

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    I would recommend Lin's great book for anyone interested in the master of plectrum guitar.
    I ordered it for the central branch library of one of NYC's five boroughs, and read it twice.

    I can't wait for Lin's next book that gives an analysis of the great JS' playing.
    If you're still reading this Lin, when will it be available, publicly or privately?

  9. #108

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    You're too kind. Thank you! Considering that there are a few shameful typographical errors in the book (which is nobody's fault but my own), it's very touching that everyone has been kind enough to overlook them and still be positive about it. My sincerest thanks and appreciation.

    I don't know when the transcriptions (etc.) will be published. I should complete the notation, editing, typesetting and so on before the year is out, but it took two years and a lot of rejections to get a publisher for Johnny's biography and there will be similar hurdles to overcome next time around. But I'll be sure to post an announcement in the forum when the time comes. If I can't get a publisher (or if I lose the plot, take refuge half way up a mountain and start singing that I am the Walrus), I'll put it all up on the web for everyone to access.

  10. #109

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    Considering the staggering amount of work that went into it, I'm sure everyone was more than willing to overlook that an entire paragraph was repeated on the same page. LOL!

    If you problems getting it published, I'm sure anyone that read the bio would be glad to buy part two from you privately.

  11. #110

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    I've had the good fortune of talking to a friend of Johnny and his wife, Sandy, who lives in the Kalamazoo area. Earl played with Johnny in the 70s and 80s and has lots of stories, none of which diminish my admiration for him as a player or a man.

    I remain in awe of Johnny's playing. IMO, he's made the world a much better place for me. At the same time, he depresses the hell out of me when I try to transcribe his work.

  12. #111

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    I found this short video of , in my opinion, the greatest to ever touch a guitar.


    enjoy..
    Joe D

  13. #112

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    Did he mostly play with just a pick?
    Ronald

  14. #113

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    Yes. JS was famous for his pick technique. He played things with a pick tha Segovia played with his fingers.

  15. #114

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    barney k, jim b and johnny s....fun in the sun

    Johnny Smith-692ba2595fc5134b1f4452b179fa4-jpg

    cheers

  16. #115

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    a fave beauty from mr. js...aug 1953



    cheers

  17. #116

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    Perry Lopez, rhythm guitar iirc.

    he taught @ Glassboro State College in the 80's along w/the great composer/arranger Manny Albam, a couple of my friends studied w/them, but don't know what became of Lopez after that, though I know he died about 8-10 yrs ago.
    he had a cool custom single P-90 p.u. L-5 in natural that he was pictured w/in a Gibson ad.

    this was originally on a 10" Roost lp 'In a Mellow Mood'...released 63 yrs ago!
    like all his Roost lps, they were like gold back in the day if you could find them in the record shops--almost overnight they went from $2.99 in the cutout bins to $25-$40 a pop up on the wall.

    it was such a thrill finding one and putting it on the table for the first time, a new [to me] Johnny Smith record!
    there were no cd's, or ebay, youtube etc.

    oh, and we walked to school uphill every day in the snow w/newspapers wrapped around our feet for boots.

  18. #117

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    Back in the early days of Guitar Player magazine Johnny Smith had a column entitled something like “How I Play It.” Does anyone remember this, and better yet, does anyone know where these might be reproduced?

  19. #118

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    "Try It This Way"

    I learned a lot from those.

  20. #119

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    Johnny Smith-gpjun69-7-jpg

    This comes from the June 1969 issue. Found it via a Google images search. The magazine is being sold here: http://musicmansteve.com/paper/gpJun69.htm

  21. #120

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    I remember his arrangement of "Laura" from that column. I used it for my audition tape for Berklee.

  22. #121

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    You can find them in microfilms of old GP issues. I made copies of his articles on foolproof tuning, his method of changing strings and his way of setting the intonation on guitars.

  23. #122

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    I subscribed to guitar player magazine back in those days solely because of Johnny Smiths column...when they stopped the column, I dropped my subscription. I even wrote to Johnny Smith asking him why he stopped and he wrote back saying that he just didnt have the time to continue it...darn, I wish I still had that hand written letter ! JS was the first chord melody style guitarist I bought records of...loved his playing, still do !

    I may still have a few of those magazines around here somewhere and if I do I would be glad to scan them and email them to you.

  24. #123

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    I have been watching auctions for this for years. And I FINALLY won!!! At a not-bad price, considering what I have seen them go for over the years.... complete 8 CD set, sealed!!! So excited!!!!

    Johnny Smith-roost-jpg

  25. #124

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    I'm reading "Reminiscing in Tempo: The Life and Times of a Jazz Hustler" by Teddy Reig, who owned Roost Records, and JS was interviewed for the book. In talking about his Roost records, Smith says, "In fact, everything I did with the group was pretty well planned and just about everything was written out... "That's one reason I've never been able to refer to myself as a Jazz guitarist. I've never been intrigued with jam sessions.Most of my playing to that point has been studio work, performing all kinds of music. I was sort of a jack-of-all-trades. To this day, I don't consider myself a jazz player".
    Smith said this around 1990. Previously, I thought he was just being modest when he said stuff like this, but I guess Smith really didn't improvise on those Roost recordings.

  26. #125

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    Congratulations! It is a great set of recordings and Mosaic did a very fine job with the tonal qualities of those CDs. The accompanying book is very interesting as well. Lin Flanagan's (sp?) biography of JS, by the way, makes an excellent companion to the set of CDs.

  27. #126

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    I bought the box when it came out because I'm a fan but never played it, still listening to my original vinyl copies like Steven. Doubt I'd sell anytime soon, I'll probably just keep it for a rainy day. But the booklet was outstanding and very comprehensive, those guys @ Mosaic are very accurate in everything they release.
    I probably have 2/3 of their output, outstanding company.

  28. #127

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    johnny smith had cool tone too..not a stretch to hank garland and cliff gallup, etc...lush

    cheers

  29. #128

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    There are a number of really odd tracks in that collection, but many great ones too.

    If you don’t already have the Legends CD I’d strongly recommend it. It’s got 12 jaw-dropping solo guitar arrangements by Johnny Smith and 11 more by George Van Eps.

  30. #129

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    johnny smith had cool tone too..not a stretch to hank garland and cliff gallup, etc...lush

    cheers
    I have 2 favorite jazz guitar tones:

    Charlie Christian for the "old school swing" sound

    and

    Johnny Smith for the "beautiful archtop" sound

  31. #130

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    I could be wrong, because I don’t have the biography handy, but when he refers to things being well planned, JS might have been talking about the arrangement of the song itself and not the solo portion. In the bio he stated something to the effect that he wanted to be respectful of the studio time, which was limited by union rules, as well as the musicians.

    John “call me a Smith apologist” Galich

  32. #131

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    Let's compare contemporaries: Johnny Smith, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery. Of those four, there's only one who has not gone into long improv'd solos as far as I know.

    Johnny Smith is a major hero of mine, so I'm not being critical. But he was more conservative IMO.

    I'd love to be wrong on this and hear some extended, extemporaneous solos from Johnny, especially if he pushed tonal and scalar barriers. My hair would go on fire if I heard him play quarter tones!

  33. #132

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    I've just done a transcription of "Blues Chorale", hopefully some of you will enjoy it. I found it enlightening to get inside the music on this one, some more classical leaning voicings peppered throughout.

  34. #133

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    Very nice, thanks.

  35. #134

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    funny am just listening to johnny smith

    check this...7 minutes of js quartet

    -pawn ticket-




    cheers

  36. #135

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    I was just taking off JS' re-harmonization of a tune from one of his Roost records for a big band chart I'm writing, and I can't believe how hip it is.
    Underestimating or ignoring this guy is a huge mistake. I also copied a chorus of his pianist, Bob Pancoast, and is ideas are so hip and musically solid, it's almost frightening that they were doing these things almost 70 years ago!

  37. #136

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    pancoast was johnny smith fave...he said "bob pancoast to me was an extraordinary piano player" in "the best group i ever had"

    js "made it a point" to feature bob on his take of duke's -prelude to a kiss-....js said "it's one of the greatest things i ever heard!



    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 06-12-2020 at 11:43 PM. Reason: typo-

  38. #137

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    if you don't have it I'd recommend looking for a copy of his lp 'Reminiscing' on Roost, one of my favorites but often overlooked for some reason, it was recorded in a neighbor's living room in '65

    this is the only cut I could find on youtube but it's a gem, 'There'll be other times'

    p.s. that trem starting @ 3:15 is scary, flawlessly executed [well this is Johnny Smith we're talking about]



  39. #138

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    That is indeed an amazing cut. Barney and Wes are the only players who come to mind who used that technique in their solos from time to time. Wild to hear it from Johnny. His solo version of Shenandoah remains one of the most beautiful solo guitars pieces I've ever heard regardless of genre; deceptively simple yet profound.

  40. #139

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    It amazes me that people rave about Frisell and Scofield's solo guitar playing. When you compare it to JS' solo guitar arranging and playing mastery, they sound like beginners. Frisell took a college course with Smith for a semester (I don't know if it was a classroom course or private), but his idea of simplicity is more like simple-minded, not Smith's profound concept of simplicity.

  41. #140

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    i hate to compare..its apples and oranges...js was one of the greatest guitarists of all time...technically so so solid & always pushing...guys like frisell are more tonesmiths...musicians...using the guitar (& effects) to create the sounds in their heads by whatever means necessary...

    distinct types..no better or worse..i enjoy listening to both...from different angles, but equally profound and enjoyable

    cheers

  42. #141

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    Agree that one doesn't have to be as great as Smith to be enjoyed but those guys just never moved me, nor Metheny for that matter.

  43. #142

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    Wintermoon,
    Thanks for posting that.
    The part of the clip you pointed out sounded like 15 guitars perfectly in sync. But no, it was just Johnny. When I listen to him play, I think of how Frank Sinatra sang. Every word, delivered clear as a bell.
    To me, Johnny was one of the greatest of all time. When he improvised, it was calculated with pinpoint precision. Instead of a pick, I am surprised he didn’t use a micrometer and a pair of calipers.
    I play a lot of his stuff (duh..). But no matter how hard I try, I can’t play it like him.
    JD

  44. #143

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    I was just going through roost my box set and found this..
    And that “Reminiscing” record is in the Box set. There are hidden gems throughout that box set.

    JD

  45. #144

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    Never a doubt JD, it's the complete Roost recordings after all
    Give it a listen if you haven't already, there's some great tunes from the Reminiscing session, the sidemen were locals he was working with when he moved to Colorado after leaving NY.

  46. #145

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    That Mosaic set is just outstanding. What an amazing collection, fantastic sound, great book. Listened to the first CD today while prepping the living room walls for painting. One part of that was enjoyable, the other was hours of my life I'm not getting back...

  47. #146

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    Never a doubt JD, it's the complete Roost recordings after all
    Give it a listen if you haven't already, there's some great tunes from the Reminiscing session, the sidemen were locals he was working with when he moved to Colorado after leaving NY.
    Hey buddy, yeah, I probably should listen to it more often. The problem is, everytime I do, I end up finding another song I have to learn!
    Have a great day WM.

  48. #147

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    That Mosaic set is just outstanding. What an amazing collection, fantastic sound, great book. Listened to the first CD today while prepping the living room walls for painting. One part of that was enjoyable, the other was hours of my life I'm not getting back...
    C, You will see that room everyday and be thankful that you put in the time and did it right!
    JD

  49. #148

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    It amazes me that people rave about Frisell and Scofield's solo guitar playing. When you compare it to JS' solo guitar arranging and playing mastery, they sound like beginners. Frisell took a college course with Smith for a semester (I don't know if it was a classroom course or private), but his idea of simplicity is more like simple-minded, not Smith's profound concept of simplicity.
    Smith would disagree with you, as I do. Profoundly, in fact.

  50. #149

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    Here's another one I've just done, love this take on John Lewis' great composition; I don't think it gets as much love as Joe Pass' and Grant Green's versions so do check it out!

  51. #150

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    Smith would disagree with you, as I do. Profoundly, in fact.
    My understanding of Johnny Smith (which is limited), is that he wouldn't say much either way, but if he did say something it would be positive. BUT that doesn't mean that is how he actually felt. I.e. for many people (especially those before the social media era), what they say publicly might not be what they actually feel. This use to be viewed as having a degree of class.

    Bottom line; it is folly for anyone to say what they believe someone like Smith would say, one way or the other.