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  1. #1

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    Hello folks,
    Guitarist Miles Okazaki here. I just discovered this site, as I noticed that quite a few people bought my recent Thelonious Monk album after learning about it here. So I'm just writing to say thanks - I appreciate the support and feedback, as recording a 5 hour solo project is a strange and lonely process. Also, if people have any questions about approaching Monk on the guitar or any other guitar nerd topics, reply to this thread and we can get into it.

    - Miles

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Wow, Thanks for the reply. Its really nice to hear/connect to people you really admire. Also thank you for all the educational videos you've put out on YouTube!!!

    Curious to hear your thoughts on other great guitarist who have done Monk justice in my opinion. People Peter Bernstein and Bill Frisell?

    When thinking of Monk my ear has always been attracted to his sense of time. Any personal insights/themes you might have notices while learning this material?

    Regarding this album, what mics/placement did you use? Still trying to learn how to capture the sound of an Archtop when recording.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read/answer our questions. It is greatly appreciated.

  4. #3
    Thanks for the kind words. In terms of guitar recordings of Monk, Frisell's work with Motian looms large, and is in my opinion a milestone ("Monk in Motian"). Also great - Bernstein, Joshua Breakstone, and especially Bobby Broom's album "Plays for Monk," which really deals with rhythm and groove. In terms of players of Monk on other instruments beside guitar - Bud Powell, Steve Lacy, Kenny Barron, Randy Weston, Jason Moran come to mind. My models as far as approach to the guitar are Charlie Christian, Grant Green, George Benson, and as far as solo guitar goes, Joe Pass, Lennie Breau, George Van Eps, Derek Bailey.
    Mics were very simple on the WORK album (as well as my other albums). One pair of Rode NT5 mics, one on the amp (Twin) and one near the guitar body. Mix in enough of the body to give it the feeling that you're sitting next to the person, to give it presence and a little dirt.

    - MO

  5. #4

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    Hi MO,

    If you read thru the thread about Work, you already know I'm pretty enthusiastic about what you've done. Just wanted to welcome you to the forum and thank you for posting!

    Might be back later to nerd it up a bit.

  6. #5

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    Welcome!

    Thanks to you for taking the time to sign up and write on the forum.

    1.What was the biggest obstacle when playing solo? did you ever think 'how am i going to fill that void left by the rhythm section?' or was it more of a 'it is what it is, i won't fight it and i'll just go with the flow'?

    2. Seeing as you done monk, would you ever do some bud powell?

    keep on burnin' on that axe.

    Oz

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by don_oz
    Welcome!

    Thanks to you for taking the time to sign up and write on the forum.

    1.What was the biggest obstacle when playing solo? did you ever think 'how am i going to fill that void left by the rhythm section?' or was it more of a 'it is what it is, i won't fight it and i'll just go with the flow'?

    2. Seeing as you done monk, would you ever do some bud powell?

    keep on burnin' on that axe.

    Oz
    With regards to these two questions:
    1. I've been playing solo for a while now (started solo restaurant gigs when I was 13), so I've never been too concerned with a "void" or having to fill up space. I find that if you can project a good enough rhythmic feel from your playing, then all of those issues take care of themselves. Most of the great players of monophonic instruments have time that is so strong that it never feels like they need to "lean" on a rhythm section (Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Booker Little, Fats Navarro, Johnny Griffin, Sonny Stitt, etc etc). So on a polyphonic instrument like guitar you have the further option of adding chords or counterpoint. My goal is to be able to play monophonically (single lines) in a way that implies the whole thing - harmony, time feel, vibe - and then add in polyphonic texture as an option. This way you aren't tied to some kind of solo/comp back and forth thing, which I find a little tiresome. The biggest obstacle in this project was coming up with enough different approaches over the course of 70 tracks to maintain what I thought would be an interesting listening experience. For example, a lot of Monk's music is at medium swing. I had to change a lot of tempos in order to change this up, because doing more than half the tunes at a similar tempo would have been pretty tedious on the ear.

    2. Bud Powell is, in my opinion, the greatest interpreter of Monk. They knew each other, and Monk personally loved Bud's versions of his tunes. I don't believe I have it in me to do another project like this Monk thing, but who knows. Bud's music, though, is extremely difficult technically, maybe more than Monk, just because of the velocity involved. I love the tunes, but I haven't played nearly as many of them as Monk's tunes. Here's a few videos of me playing heads and solo transcriptions of Powell's tune "Wail," Powell on Monk's "Off Minor," and Powell on Monk's "'Round Midnight." I actually used the 'Round Midnight solo as a kind of alternate melody in my recording of that tune on "WORK."






  8. #7

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    Hey Miles, welcome!
    Some of us have your CD and book, too!

    Thanks for sharing your talents,

    Marc

  9. #8

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    wat up moka!?

  10. #9

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    Hi Miles,

    It's great to see you around these parts. I've been listening to your monk album(s) a lot in the past few weeks. Somehow you keep coming popping up lately, and I don't just mean showing up on this forum. I was at TR Crandall last week, and I met Adam Rogers who happened to be there getting some setup work done. We talked about your album - both of us having extremely positive things to say. Lately I've been playing nothing but Monk and Steve Lacy, so your surprise album release really got to me at the right time. Oh and while Adam and I were chatting, I happened to pick up a Walnut ES 175 CC that they had in the store to play some Monk tunes because it reminded me of you. Later on Alex told me that the guitar used to belong to you. So, thank you, for haunting my recent musical experiences.


    I was wondering if you could talk a bit more about Steve Lacy and Derek Bailey. I think your rendition of Pannonica brings to mind some of Derek Bailey's "chord melodies". Could you say more about how they influenced your approach? I like what you said above about solo performance on monophonic instruments. I've been transcribing some Steve Lacy solos lately and going back to look at them, I've noticed some remarkable traits of his melodies. I find that you are able to draw fluidly from the spectrum of "free" and "straight" approaches. This is something I really appreciate about some great Monk interpreters, such as Steve Lacy, or Ben Goldberg, whom I've had the honor of seeing play Monk solo twice in the past year.




    I guess, if I may ask another question, how did playing Monk influence the rest of your music? Are there any lessons or interesting findings you would like to share?

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos
    Hi Miles,

    It's great to see you around these parts. I've been listening to your monk album(s) a lot in the past few weeks. Somehow you keep coming popping up lately, and I don't just mean showing up on this forum. I was at TR Crandall last week, and I met Adam Rogers who happened to be there getting some setup work done. We talked about your album - both of us having extremely positive things to say. Lately I've been playing nothing but Monk and Steve Lacy, so your surprise album release really got to me at the right time. Oh and while Adam and I were chatting, I happened to pick up a Walnut ES 175 CC that they had in the store to play some Monk tunes because it reminded me of you. Later on Alex told me that the guitar used to belong to you. So, thank you, for haunting my recent musical experiences.


    I was wondering if you could talk a bit more about Steve Lacy and Derek Bailey. I think your rendition of Pannonica brings to mind some of Derek Bailey's "chord melodies". Could you say more about how they influenced your approach? I like what you said above about solo performance on monophonic instruments. I've been transcribing some Steve Lacy solos lately and going back to look at them, I've noticed some remarkable traits of his melodies. I find that you are able to draw fluidly from the spectrum of "free" and "straight" approaches. This is something I really appreciate about some great Monk interpreters, such as Steve Lacy, or Ben Goldberg, whom I've had the honor of seeing play Monk solo twice in the past year.




    I guess, if I may ask another question, how did playing Monk influence the rest of your music? Are there any lessons or interesting findings you would like to share?
    Those are some funny coincidences. But it is a small world, those of us who are interested in this stuff. Tom Crandall is the best of the best, as far as luthiers go. Love the guitars in that shop, although it's mostly just fantasy material, as the prices are pretty steep. I actually own one of Tom's personal guitars that he restored and put up for sale, a 1937 L50 acoustic archtop. The guitar you played (ES175CC) was a "spare" that I had purchased in case something ever happened to my main axe, and I would have another one. But I wasn't playing it, so I brought it in and traded it for the L50. It's a great guitar, but the best guitars for you are the ones you actually use, so I had to let it go. Adam Rogers is a good friend and one of my favorite players. I always cite him as a player with immaculate technique and knowledge of styles. I was at his apartment a few months back doing some playing on his guitar arsenal. He loves old Martins.

    I'm glad that Pannonica reminds you of Derek Bailey. It may have something to do with the harmonics involved. That track was easily one of the hardest on the entire recording, as my requirement was to play all possible notes that could be played with natural harmonics and mix them in with regular fretted notes for notes that are not available with harmonics. Keeping this delicate and not popping the harmonics super loud was quite a task. But Derek Bailey was a real master of this type of thing. His solo playing is for me something that every guitar player should check out. He not just doing "whatever." He has a mastery of the instrument and extreme control, combined with a flowing sense of improvisation. Something like Cecil Taylor. Steve Lacy is also a master of control and especially restraint. His playing has a kind of patience and devotion to craft that I strive for.

    As far as Monk's influence - it is pervasive. The central thing is, sticking with your thing no matter what, creating a body of work that is consistent and identifiable, connecting to a tradition while extending it, creating experimental forms that have fundamental human connection - these are big goals.

    - MO

  12. #11

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    Miles -- Your Powell transcriptions are such fine captures of the notes, spirit and intention of Bud's solos! I have your WORK recording (and your book), but I was hoping you would post some of the WORK tracks on youtube so I could spread the word on how fine they are with an example or two to point folks to...
    Thank you for taking the time to reach out to our little community!

  13. #12

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    Woah, nice to hear from Miles Okazaki. I like your book so much I bought two copies. You got me on an ES-175CC bender. Thanks for keeping that CC pickup flame allve.

    I want to know if you intend to release your Monk works on full fat Red Book or better resolution CD. Audiophool here with a dCS DAC.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    Woah, nice to hear from Miles Okazaki. I like your book so much I bought two copies. You got me on an ES-175CC bender. Thanks for keeping that CC pickup flame allve.

    I want to know if you intend to release your Monk works on full fat Red Book or better resolution CD. Audiophool here with a dCS DAC.
    Hey, thanks for getting the book. Never heard of anybody buying two! Some people dig the visuals in it, even if they don't play guitar or music. I've been playing the CC since 1994, so I'm used to it and all of its vagaries. Mistakes sound worse, but touch is more exposed and present than a humbucker.

    After a lot of requests, I was looking at issuing the Monk project on vinyl. You don't even want to know how expensive that would be. So I got a quote for a short run of CDs, and I may do this, as a 6 CD set only. Need to figure out if it's worth the trouble, as I need to mail them out myself and everything. So they would need to be kind of expensive. In the meantime, Bandcamp has FLAC files, which are lossless. The sound on those will be identical to a CD, and you could burn a compilation of your favorites, skip the ones you don't dig.

    - MO

  15. #14

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    Miles,

    Thanks for posting here. I’ve really enjoyed listening to your approach to Monk on the new album.

    If I had to ask a question, it would be whether you would consider posting a score/transcription to some tune from this collection? Any tune, really, would make for interesting study material from a number of perspectives.

    Kudos again and thanks,
    John


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  16. #15

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    Welcome Miles- thanks for dropping in. My teacher pointed me to your Fundamentals book so I have been exploring , especially the rhythm stuff . Great to see you with Dan Weiss as backup on the drum rudiments picking stuff on youtube. Lol- how did you keep him under control !!! - saw him with Starebaby this summer and was inspired to dig into drum rhythm explorations. Your vids brought it home on guitar - many thanks !!!.



    cheers

    Will

  17. #16

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    Hi MIles,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated. I don't know if it could prove enervating and take away from your playing time but how about approaching Artistshare.com to publish your works on CD?

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by skittles
    Miles,

    Thanks for posting here. I’ve really enjoyed listening to your approach to Monk on the new album.

    If I had to ask a question, it would be whether you would consider posting a score/transcription to some tune from this collection? Any tune, really, would make for interesting study material from a number of perspectives.

    Kudos again and thanks,
    John


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Hi John,
    Unfortunately, there are no formal "arrangements" on the album. I just improvised until I came up with something and then recorded it, and then moved on, so there is nothing written down. On Instragram (@okazakistudio), if you go back into my feed you'll find a lot of videos where I was working out fingerings and such. But that's as close as I have to a document of the way the tunes are played. The scores to all my other albums are available on my website, MILES OKAZAKI.

    - MO

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by salishsea
    Hello folks,
    Guitarist Miles Okazaki here. I just discovered this site, as I noticed that quite a few people bought my recent Thelonious Monk album after learning about it here. So I'm just writing to say thanks - I appreciate the support and feedback, as recording a 5 hour solo project is a strange and lonely process. Also, if people have any questions about approaching Monk on the guitar or any other guitar nerd topics, reply to this thread and we can get into it.

    - Miles
    Awesome! Thanks for taking the time.

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    Hi MIles,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated. I don't know if it could prove enervating and take away from your playing time but how about approaching Artistshare.com to publish your works on CD?
    I'm not really hip to Artistshare, but I've heard good things. The thing about this project is, there is some very complicated stuff involving royalties. I have a keep track of everything and pay for the rights to these tunes. So the more outlets its involved in, the more confused I get. Thus no iTunes, Spotify, etc. I'll check out your suggestion though. Right now I am signed to the Pi Recordings label, so my next project will be with them.

    - MO

  21. #20

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    Thanks for doing a solo guitar album and making it sound interesting and contemporary. The rhythmic aspect is what keeps it interesting for me as a listener (on this and on your other albums as well). Good stuff!

    I actually ended up buying your book as well, just to check out if there is anything that would make something go "Aha!" in my head.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by TKO
    Thanks for doing a solo guitar album and making it sound interesting and contemporary. The rhythmic aspect is what keeps it interesting for me as a listener (on this and on your other albums as well). Good stuff!

    I actually ended up buying your book as well, just to check out if there is anything that would make something go "Aha!" in my head.
    Yes the main thing is the rhythm, as the harmony, melody, and forms are pretty much the same as the original, to the best of my abilities.

    Thanks for picking up the book. You may notice that it's not a "jazz" book at all (no mention of the "J" word in it), but is a little more abstract. Ideas to jump start practice sessions, and reference for fundamental kinds of information. Style is then whatever you do with it.

    -MO

  23. #22

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    Now that I got the book, I can say thanks - it's great.

    The natural harmonics table alone already gave me a couple of evenings just doing "ping" sounds on different positions. And there is still so much more stuff to delve into.

    I don't have a background in music theory (I have a rudimentary level of understanding of that stuff), so I'm always looking for new ways to implement some of that information into my brain. And I think for this e.g the pentatonic / tritone / diatonic charts will come in handy as well.

    Big thumbs up.

  24. #23

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    I also (finally) picked up the book as a result of this thread, after being a fan for many years; I remember seeing your group with Miguel Zenon and maybe Dan Weiss many years ago in the east village. It's really great and quite inspirational.

    For "Work", I suspect you learned the music the way the composer liked people to learn it, but I'm curious if you want to confirm this?

    --paul