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  1. #1

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    Johnny Smith was the first jazz guitarist I heard back in the late 1950s.

    He still blows me away today. Wonderful chord voicings, super chops, great ideas and sweet tone.

    His Complete Roost Box set gets a lot of play on my iTunes.

    Last edited by Flyin' Brian; 03-07-2011 at 02:21 PM.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    In several interviews I've read over the years, Smith stated that his primary guitar influences were Django Reinhardt and Andres Segovia. As such, I've always thought of him as a logical entension to Django's legacy; more so than many of today's Gypsy Jazz players.

    His precise technique echoes that of both Reinhardt and Segovia, while utilising ornamented arpeggios and classically informed chordal voice leading. These attributes, I think, made Smith stand out as such a unique player on electric guitar at a time when most other guitarists were following the path that Charlie Christian blazed.

    When I started playing, the Roost albums were out of print and all I could find were the three Verve LPs. The Mosaic box set of the Roost recordings is a treasure beyond price. I never tire of them.

    Regards,
    monk

  4. #3

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    I love Johnny's playing. It always amazes me that in interviews he states that he never considered himself a jazz player. I guess he isn't in the traditional sense. That "Walk Don't Run" CD and "Moonlight In Vermont" are favorites. I didn't know there was a Mosaic Box so I'll have to get that, not to mention the Tal Mosaic Box!

    I have a friend who doesn't really care for jazz guitar but loves to play surf rock type stuff and digs the "Ventures". I love explaining to him that their most famous tune was written by Johnny Smith, someone he's never heard of, and how it was based on the changes to "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise", a tune he's never heard of. And, that the tune was originally called "Opus" by Johnny; I think the engineer gave it the name "Walk Don't Run" (the only "Opus" my friend knows is the comic strip character). And how Johnny's response to the royalties he gets from it is sort of a casual "Oh, yeah, that tune" type of thing. My friend gets all upset and says to me "You jazz guys want to take credit for everything!" LOL.

    Such a great all around musician and don't even get me started on those close voicings he plays.
    Last edited by paynow; 03-07-2011 at 02:39 PM.

  5. #4

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    paynow,
    You won't be disappointed in the Mosaic box set. It's called The Complete Roost Johnny Smith Small Group Sessions. Eight CDs.

    It doesn't have the two albums he did with singers or the heavily arranged "with strings" albums. But it does include The Man with the Blue Guitar which is arguably one of the great solo guitar recordings of the 20th Century, if not all time.

    Regards,
    monk

  6. #5

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    Johnny Smith was great. Those stretch chord voicings he used are impossible!

    Interestingly enough he did not consider himself a jazz guitarist and in most cases did not play improvised solos. Everything was pre-arranged.

    What a good man too. He gave up the performing side of his life to care for his young daughter after his wife died. Great guy.

  7. #6

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    I have a couple of dozen transcriptions by JS, and of course all the books, including the 50's Guitar Interpretations. Tuff stuff but oh so rewarding once you go through them ( no I haven't gone through all of them, just scratched the surface ). Some of the close voiced chords are just impossible for my small hands to reach, but I was surprised that most of it comes pretty naturally. The dropped D tuning opens up a whole new world. I love JS's single note stuff, but the chord melodies are my favorite. I think his version of When I Fall In Love is probably the prettiest thing ever, simple and elegant. The whole album that includes WIFIL is my favorite JS work.

  8. #7

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    I forgot to mention it the other day but in 1961, Chet Atkins produced an album on singer/songwriter Don Gibson for RCA entitled Girls, Guitars and Gibson.

    I've never heard it but it's notable in that Chet had Johnny Smith, Hank Garland and Harold Bradley all playing on the recording. Howzat for a lineup?

    By the way, Don Gibson was considered to be a good rhythm man who routinely made use of L-5s and Super 400s. Toward the end of his life he acquired a Selmer Modele Jazz that he used.
    Last edited by monk; 03-10-2011 at 04:49 PM. Reason: clarity

  9. #8

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    I have that album, it's by no means a jazz record, but rather typical Nashville sound pop country. All three players are playing nylon strings classical guitars, often in three part harmonies. I like it, Don Gibson is a big favorite of mine, and yes he was a good rhythm player. Many of his hits kick off with his arch top strumming. He was a big arch top fan and I think he had one of Django's guitars too.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk
    I forgot to mention it the other day but in 1961, Chet Atkins produced an album on singer/songwriter Don Gibson for RCA entitled Girls, Guitars and Gibson....
    By the way, Don Gibson was considered to be a good rhythm man who routinely made use of L-5s and Super 400s. Toward the end of his life he acquired a Selmer Modele Jazz that he used.
    There was also an LP,probably produced by Atkins, that had Gibson paired with Los Indios Tabajaras. I haven't listened to it in years,so I'll have to pull it out and give it a spin soon. The cover is worth a look, if only for the big old Archtop and los Indios outifts.



    Brad

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbler
    Interestingly enough he did not consider himself a jazz guitarist and in most cases did not play improvised solos. Everything was pre-arranged.
    Very interesting, this is what I thought some time ago but one great player told me he could improvise (and of course he could ! Check his few vids on youtube) so I thought I was wrong.

    I'm still wondering about this, because there are some songs on which I believe he's improvising, and some I'm not too sure. Do you have any source which could confirm this or give additional info please ?

    Cheers
    Guelda

  12. #11

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    Every major jazz artist who ever worked with or knew Johnny Smith considered him to be one of the greatest jazz guitarists who ever lived. I would find it hard to believe that anyone could play multiple
    extended engagements at Birdland and play the same solos night after night. It may be that he didn't consider himself a jazz player because he worked in the NBC Studios doing other types of music. I've heard people who knew him say that he was a top flight improvisor. To make the blanket statement that everything he played was pre-arranged is, in my opinion, a bit reckless.

    Most great improvisors, including Charlie Parker, made their reputations on the bandstand while playing much more conservatively in the studio. From the late 1940s on, jazz records were niche items that didn't sell in large numbers and budgets had to be considered. Then, as now, when the red light went on; time became money. When recording in the 78RPM format, players had to get to the point. Extended imporovisation on record did not become the norm until the recording industry and the general public embraced the 33 RPM LP technology.

  13. #12

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    ^I so agree with you! This got me to dig out a tape I acquired years ago; it's a Johnny Smith Quartet "home made" live recording from a club in Colorado Springs in -81. Despite of the amateurish sound quality ( somebody probably just had a walkman on the table in the bar ) the music is outstanding and JS is in top form playing extended solos. The best thing is that most of the songs are ones that he never recorded commercially. There's no way anyone can claim that this isn't jazz guitar playing at its' best.

  14. #13

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    Whats up everyone? New to the forum here.

    I had to post on Johnny Smith - he's one of my favorites. His chords sound like he had a 6th finger on his left hand!

    My parents have an old record thats just called Johnny Smith and its on verve. He does a cover of the Beatles "Yesterday" and the last couple chords he ends with were so pretty I had to learn them. Learning stuff on vinyl talk about a pain!

    I'm a little bit theory challenged you could say, but I think he was using whats called pitch axis where you keep one or two different notes the same through your chord progression, but the chords are all very different. Its a great effect.

  15. #14

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    basile865,
    The effect with chords that you are referring to is called common tones. A common tone is held in the soprano voice while the harmony moves underneath. Johnny Smith was a master of this technique.

    Pitch axis is when a tonic bass note is held or repeated while melodies derived from different scales/modes with the same tonic are played over the bass. It's a Joe Satriani thing.
    Regards,
    monk

  16. #15

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    Hey Monk,

    Thanks for the correction there. So essentially common tone is holding a higher note the same while harmony moves beneath it, and pitch axis is holding a lower note the same while the chord progression moves above it? Its strange that those would be considered two different concepts.

    I actually had some lessons with Oteil Burbridge - he was the first person I saw do that and I absolutely loved how it completely changed the feel with every change, yet they were all "legal" Its like with every change a different color or emotion fires off in your brain. Very cool stuff.

  17. #16

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    When the bass note stays the same and the chords move above the bass it's usually called pedal point.

    Here's a link to a pitch axis article:
    Pitch axis theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  18. #17

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    hmmm....now I'm really confused. I'm not advanced enough to get the difference between a pedal point and pitch axis. But I guess really the thing I love to use is called common tones.

  19. #18

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    I have that record too! That arrangement of 'Yesterday' is great. What did you figure out for those chords? I've tried to figure them out, but it doesn't work out so well.

  20. #19

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    Ok here is what I got..........I hope you can read it. Any string I wrote an O above means play it open, any string with an X above it means muted. I'm not sure if thats standard for chord chart but I just wanted to make sure it was clear. Then I wrote the fret number next to the root for each......if you can't read those numbers its 2, 1, 7, 5, 5, 3, 3, 1, 2.

    Oh and for some of those chords - mainly the second one - those stacked notes are played with one finger - two notes for the ring finger and two for the pinky.

    Hopefully this makes sense!


  21. #20

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    Are you guys aware of the old Decca LP Jazz Studio #1?? It's a studio jam session LP with just two songs on it, Tenderly & Let's Split. JS is on guitar and appears under a pseudo Sir Jonathan Gasser. Tenderly in particular is wonderful; it opens with JS going through the whole theme as solo, then the rhythm section kicks in with Hank Jones' piano and each soloist takes a lengthy break until midway when they launch intoa double tempo. Finally it ends, again, with just JS on solo. Let's Split is a fast be bop blues and everyone takes lengthy solos on it. There were I believe 5 albums in that series, JS was only on the first one, Howard Roberts is on 2 & 3 but the #1 is my personal favorite.
    Last edited by 63Bigsby; 03-28-2011 at 05:21 AM.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by guelda
    Very interesting, this is what I thought some time ago but one great player told me he could improvise (and of course he could ! Check his few vids on youtube) so I thought I was wrong.

    I'm still wondering about this, because there are some songs on which I believe he's improvising, and some I'm not too sure. Do you have any source which could confirm this or give additional info please ?

    Cheers
    Guelda
    I read this in a Johnny Smith interview but I don't know which.

    Of course Johnny Smith could improvise but he said his studio recordings were pre-arranged. The guy was great.

    Unlike some other artists who just played over a tune or chord progression and came up with something on the spot, perhaps requiring several takes to get something suitable. Even creating new songs on the spot which they named later.

    Johnny Smith was a perfectionist. He gave up playing the guitar because he could not maintain his playing to his own high standard due to limited playing time.

  23. #22

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    Hello all, I'm new to jazz guitar although I've been playing blues and rock for some time. As I listen to the greats and read forums, I see where some of you are able to describe a person's style such as the choice of progressions etc. My question is what do you think the style for J. Smith was? What differentiated him from Montgomery or Pass? I find I really like his music.

    Thanks,

    Bruce

  24. #23

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    Johnny, of course, didn't really consider himself a jazz player...but he was a monster nonetheless.

    Johnny had a very clean, articulate style less rooted in the blues than some (Johnny would often play classical pieces on his steel string and had a long career in network bands)

    There's nothing about the choice of progressions, really, a song is a song. Guys sub/reharm different ways, but their tone, sense of swing, and note choice over those chords are the most instantly identifiable differences. Johnny seems to draw from swing, uses dense, painistic clusters for chords (some of which involve some AMAZING stretches) and like I said before, is decidedly less bluesy in phrasing and note choice.

  25. #24

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    Master of the "closed chord" voicings, master of chord melody, beautiful bordering on gorgeous tone and legato phrasing. As my teacher calls him, quit simply, the "Segovia of the Electric Guitar".

  26. #25

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    Any idea where to find some good Johnny Smith transcriptions? I'm listening to Come Rain or Shine and his interpretation is just gorgeous.

  27. #26

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    I remember reading somewhere (dang if I can remember where) that Barney Kessel called Johnny Smith the best guitarist he's ever heard. When I first heard him, he sounded like he was playing a harp. As NSJ mentioned, he was the master of close voiced chords which has a whole different sound than drop 2 and drop 3 voicings. For those not familiar with close voicing, that's where all the notes in the chord are in one octave. It often requires some weird stretches but they sound incredible. Also the fact that JS used D'Angelico guitars didn't hurt his sound. According to Matt Warnock who interviewed JS, his hands weren't that big at all. He just managed to stretch them out. I tried close voicing and all I got was arthritis and tendonitis. JS's timing and note articular was totally impeccable. He may not have considered himself a jazz player but man, could he improvise. It was clean, clear and polished without being cliche or boring. He sort of reminds me of the old fashion guitar teacher who came to your house and who could play so much better than you. No matter how well you mastered a song, you still couldn't play as good as him.
    Last edited by hot ford coupe; 05-10-2011 at 01:48 PM.

  28. #27

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    The whole record Johnny made with Art is classic. IMHO.

    Yeah, Johnny not a jazz player--his words, definitely not mine!

  29. #28

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    Definitely agree that for a guy who didn't consider himself a jazz player...well, here's something I never saw before:



    Not a great deal of JS video out there. Listen to that tone and the feel. Wow.

  30. #29

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    And you just gotta dig that axe he's holding. I wonder where that's going when he decides to quit playing. He went and had one of those new fangled 6 finger tailpieces put on it. It sounds pretty good to me.

  31. #30

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    He quit playing over 25 years ago--put the guitar down and never picked it back up.

  32. #31

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    Johnny's "Moods Moods Moods" and "Designed For You" were the first jazz guitar records I owned. "The Man With The Blue Guitar" is the finest solo jazz guitar album in existence IMO.

    Johnny also tuned his low E down to D pretty much all of the time. Gibson used to make a JS set years ago that was round wound but had a flatwound low E.

    The box set of all of his Roost small group recordings is a must have.

  33. #32

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    more like 50 years, actually. he didn't think nyc was a very good place to raise his kid, didn't want to play out with less than his full capacity...

    Guitar Legend Johnny Smith Alive and Well in Colorado Springs | Cover Story | Colorado Springs Independent

  34. #33

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    True, he did remove himself from the scene 50 years ago and stopped a lot of professional activity. But, from what I have learned (I actually had a guitar lesson interrupted a couple years ago with a Johnny Smith phone call--obviously, he wasn't calling me, duh, he literally put down the guitar over 25 years ago and NEVER physically picked it up again, not even to tinker around or play for himself). As my teacher explained as to this 'all or nothing' stance, he said, "you have to know John, he is absolute perfectionist". Here is what my teacher has written about Mr. Smith:

    "Johnny Smith is the Segovia of the electric guitar. Johnny Smith has always been a great inspiration to me, and thousands of other guitarists. I remember the first time I heard a recording of his playing. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. No one has been able to duplicate his style of playing. His stretching ability allows him to play close position chords that other players can't reach. His impeccable technique, beautiful tone, touch, legato and articulation set him apart from other players. He is the only guitarist that can move from chord to chord and not get a break in sound between chords. In addition to his phenomenal picking technique he can execute double stops as fast as most players play single notes. His playing is very clean and his articulation impeccable. He plays solo guitar with a pick and still takes advantage of the contrapuntal resources of the instrument. He is also a fine classic guitarist and arranger.

    I remember an incident when John and I were in my studio and we had consumed quite a bit of vodka. I suggested that the Girl With The Flaxen Hair by Debussy would be a beautiful piece that lends itself to being played with a pick. I played it for him in the key of G. John then pointed out that certain parts had to be transposed to a different octave in that particular key. He then proceeded to play the composition in different keys, pointing out all the pluses and minus's of each key, with all the chords and voicing in their proper place. He did this effortlessly. John's immense knowledge and talent are mind - boggling. I had heard his recording of "Golden Earrings" and asked him to play it for me. To watch him picking the arpeggiation in his arrangement of that tune was amazing. His execution of the arpeggi sounded like a classic guitarist playing finger-style except he was doing it with a pick. A book he wrote many years ago called "Aids to Technique" {Charles Colin, Publisher} was a real eye opener for me. His fingering of three octave arpeggi and scales are studies that I practice all the time. They impart a tactile sense of security and knowledge of the total range of the guitar. When John mentioned he was writing a guitar method {Mel Bay, Publisher} he mentioned that he was writing the notation where the actual pitch of the guitar sounded. This meant that the guitarist would have to read bass clef. Most guitarists can't read treble clef let alone bass clef. I told John that it would scare teachers off and affect sales. He is absolutely right from a theoretic point of view but he was fighting centuries of guitar music being written in treble clef. John published it with both clefs because he felt it was the correct thing to do. I know that it scared most guitar teachers and consequently affected sales. I believe if guitarists became familiar and adept with both clefs they would be much better musicians. John is a gentleman from the old school. I consider it a great honor and privilege to call Johnny Smith my friend."

    A great article about Mr. Smith:

    Johnny (Still) Be Good

    My favorite quote: "I'm bad with names, I'd forget my name if wasn't John Smith"


    From that incredible article, the following:

    "When I inquired as to whether he’d stopped playing or simply stopped performing, Smith’s response was both. It broke my heart to hear him say that, but Johnny is speaking from a more elevated perspective. “I tell people that I made enough mistakes for one guitar player—let somebody else at it. To sit around and just plunk on the guitar is nothing but frustration. Because to really come close to doing what you think you’re capable of doing, you have to stay on it all the time—all the time. It’s a physical challenge. No, you’re either performing or you’re out of it.”

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by bachplay6
    Hello all, I'm new to jazz guitar although I've been playing blues and rock for some time. As I listen to the greats and read forums, I see where some of you are able to describe a person's style such as the choice of progressions etc. My question is what do you think the style for J. Smith was? What differentiated him from Montgomery or Pass? I find I really like his music.
    Through the years, Johnny Smith has been most closely identified stylistically with the cool jazz movement which began in NYC and later became known as West Coast Jazz. Smith always said that his primary guitar influences were Django Reinhardt and Andres Segovia. I think of him as the next evolutionary step from Reinhardt, more so than the gypsy jazz clones that have kept the style alive since Django's death. To me, he is the American Django.

    Quote Originally Posted by bachplay6
    Any idea where some good transcritions are for this guy? I'm listening to Come Rain or Shine and his interpretation is just gorgeous.
    There's a book of transcriptions in standard notation by Steve Silverman that's available from Hal Leonard Publishing.

  36. #35

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    Not sure if they're still available, but years ago I bought many transcriptions of JS tunes from Chord Melody Productions. Some of them were standard notations and many were written with sort of funky but clever "block chord symbols". Learning few JS arrangements is like opening a door to a completely new world, especially when using the drop D tuning. I did find most of the closed voiced chord stretches easier than I thought they'd be but there were few that I just had to skip and find another way to do them .
    I used to have a JS interview on a cassette tape where he states the reasons why he left NY and finally quit playing altogether, but the most interesting part of the tape was about 20 second insert of a live 50s radio broadcast from Birdland, JS playing "Easy To Love". Got me thinking that somewhere there probably exists a tape of the whole show. Now, that's something I'd like to hear!!!

  37. #36

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    "Johnny Smith Guitar Solos" from Hal Leonard (HL00672374) has 21 of his solos. I'm at work, but from memory I think they are only notation and may be in actual pitch and not transposed up an octave. Smith advocated writing guitar music at pitch and using both bass and treble clef. We sometimes forget that the guitar actually sounds an octave lower than written, i.e. our third space "c" is actual tone middle "c."
    Brad

    P.S. There were also some transcriptions in an old issue of "Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine" (even though he used a pick) and I think in Just Jazz Guitar magazine, not sure on the latter but should be able to find out on its website. Unfortunately, Fingerstyle Guitar is currently not in business, so I don't know how you could check on them.
    Last edited by brad4d8; 05-11-2011 at 10:07 AM.

  38. #37

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    NSJ, in your last post, you definitely confirmed what I felt about JS and how he was the embodiment of the traditional old school guitar teacher.

    There you were, 9 years old and just after you got home from school, he would come through the door with his guitar case in hand with the case cover over it to give you your weekly lesson. I can just see him taking off the cover under which was a brown alligator skin case. He'd open said case with the deep purple lining and pull out the most beautiful guitar you'd ever seen; not a Gibson, not an Epi but a sunburst cutaway guitar with a strange Italian sounding name, art deco inlays and tailpiece. He'd strike a few test chords and a single note line and the flowers in your mom's window boxes would come right out of the dirt and bloom right in front of you. And there you sat with your acoustic Harmony or Sears archtop with the cardboard case drooling over your teacher's guitar saying "One day, I'll have one just like it. Oh yes, It will be mine". Then you'd start your arpeggios and delve into that world of sound. Now that's what I call inspiration.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by hot ford coupe
    I still would love to know who's playing Johnny's guitars, especialy the D'As. I'm not looking to buy one but I sure would like to know where the instruments are that made such beautiful music. They need to be in a museum. At least they have pictures of it in Acquired of the Angels. It was an Excel with New Yorker trim and looked a lot like the Vestax product.
    If I'm not totally mistaken, the -55 D'Angelico is in the Hank Risan collection. Johnny's first DA was destroyed when his house burnt down.

    This should be the -55 DA:


    Johnny Smith-dangelico-johnny-smith-jpg

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by paynow
    HFC, I love this. You know, after I wrote that I said "I hope he doesn't think I meant him". Absolutely not. I'm talking about people who haven't spent even two seconds there and think they know everything about it or dislike it. "Scaring the southern ladies and gentleman". Hah! That's great. What kills me is the two most profound accents are southern and NYC, IMHO. I can lose it completely if I feel like it, or make you think I'm after you to collect the 20 G's you owe some loan shark. Or I can fall in between. John Lennon once said that the heavy scouse accents the Beatles had were a put on for the press; in private they weren't that thick.

    Well, this is OT. My round about point was that Johnny Smith was well accepted in NYC and left because it just wasn't for him. And that's awesome.
    I thought you'd get a bang outa dat. No, I didn't think you meant me at all. I just thought it would be great copy.

    The part about scaring the southerners was believe it or not, 100% true. She took me aside after work one day and actually counselled me as if I had done something wrong. And I told her in no uncertain terms in my best Brooklyn drawl, to go and -----well, if you're from NYC, you know exactly what I told her. Any place on earth that you live has both good and bad points. NYC is no exception. You just have to know how to handle yourself and you're in business.

    Hey bigsby, I think you're right about the D'A in Risan's collection. The proportions look just right. That one guitar inspired so many other great archtop. It's like the Holy Grail of Holy Grails.

  41. #40

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    My mind's blown by how well written this is, a lot of guys when they get into the classical thing, they sound more like cheap imitations or beginners. Mr. Smith nailed it.



    Edit: Turns out he's performing a piece by Max DeJulio, it isn't an original.
    Last edited by stellarstar; 06-21-2015 at 07:43 PM.

  42. #41

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    JS was an excellent reader with impeccable technique. He performed a number of times with orchestras (and was part of the NBC radio orchestra performing live cues daily on radio shows, in addition to jazz gigs), including playing under the direction of Arturo Toscanini.

    This is a nice find, I have never heard nor heard of this.

  43. #42

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    Smith didn't compose that piece- he performed it. DeJulio (the composer) was a TV and film composer.
    I wish there was a better recording of Smith doing that piece- it sounds like it was recorded on a cheap tape recorder.

  44. #43

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    I stand corrected. I wish I could find more information on this Mr. DeJulio though

  45. #44

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    As you wish. His name was Max DiJulio. From the Interwebs:


    Max DiJulio10/10/19 - 1/28/05


    Max DiJulio was an internationally known arranger, composer, conductor and educator. During his career, he worked with such notable musicians as GlennMiller,Henry Mancini and Alfred Reed. He conducted for great entertainers such as Jack Benny, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Smith, Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope and appeared as guest conductor with numerous orchestras both in the U.S. and abroad performing compositions and "symphonic pops" arrangements.

    A native Philadelphian, Max relocated to Colorado after World War II to marry his wife, Esther, and start a family. He became a well-known local figure in the arts as a noted arranger for KOA radio, head of the Fine Arts Division at Loretto Heights College (now Colorado Heights) for 35 years, Music Director of the hugely popular summer Denver Post Operas in Cheesman Park (34 years) and arranger-conductor for the Pearle Rae Show.

    A professional trumpeter at age 14, Max blossomed into a composer under the tutelage of Darius Milhaud and Cecil Effinger, and as a conductor under Joseph DeLuca and William Steinberg. He wrote both liturgical and secular compositions in a unique style that combined elements of jazz, folk, pop and classical genres. Numerous organizations commissioned new works, including the Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Public Library, the Fort Collins and Pueblo Symphony Orchestras and the Denver Municipal Band, among others.

    He was honored by the Republic of Italy, which bestowed the title of Cavaliere, for his contributions to the arts. His score for the video film "Washington D.C., A Capital Experience" won a bronze medal at the 29th International Film and TV Festival in 1986. His music has been performed internationally in Scandinavia, throughout Europe and Japan.

    In spite of his many accomplishments and accolades, he always remained "Mr. D", who was greatly loved by family, friends and students.



    There is a series of Max DiJulio prizes for composition, etc.

  46. #45

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    I have just seen this video and it is outstanding!
    If someone posted this first, please erase this post.

    I would like to know more about his horizontal playing concepts.

  47. #46

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    I hadn't seen this before.

    Nice clarification about elbow picking and the pendulum image.

  48. #47

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    This is quite an insight into how Johnny Smith thought about playing guitar. His approach, to my ears, was very disciplined and rigorous and here he shows some of that- even while being an engaging and folksy man. The discussion of using a plectrum, especially upstrokes versus downstrokes. I am not that well organized (downstrokes on the downbeat, upstroke on the upbeat). His efficiency is just remarkable.

    Around 10:50 he discussed the elbow issue. I have heard for years that Johnny Smith stated that all picking motion should come from the elbow and trying to do so was just awkward as could be. Once I finally saw videos of him playing, he clearly didn't do that. So having this interview and his discussion of this is clarifying. I think he's talking about "Aids to Technique and Guitar Interpretations," which I got somewhere and has some very good stuff in it. On page 2 it states "I also recommend that the thumb, forefinger and wrist of the right hand be held slightly rigid, requiring cross motion for picking to originate at the elbow." In the video Smith contradicts and clarifies this.

    Also the use of 3 versus 4 fingers on the fretboard. I was taught from day 1 to use all four, but a lot of great jazz players use/used 3 (Wes, Pete Bernstein, Jimmy Raney and George Benson mostly).

  49. #48

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    Well, he says that he plays in a different way the young players of those days.
    He played in a diagonal way, and the young ones played in a position way and he used the pinky and the blues oriented players doesn't.
    I think that the linear, horizontal, diagonal, whatever, fretboard navigation is a must and two things that had helped enormously for seeing the fretboard this way are the Smith arpeggios and the shifting positions recommendations from the Berklee modern method of guitar.

    One thing that I like very much from the video is the explanation about the downstroke-downbeat pairing from the classical music world.

  50. #49

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    Would someone be so kind as to tell me the name of the song fragment JS plays at 46:38.

    It would be greatly appreciated. I know I've heard it before but cannot remember the name.

    Thanks in advance.
    edh

  51. #50

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    Moonlight In Vermont is the song