Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 22 of 22
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    Rene Thomas is one of my favourite guitar player and one of the most overlooked guitar player ever. I know nearly every record he''s made . Someone said me that he was not able to read music . That sound a bit odd to me . It's true that django plays bach without being able to read music . But Rene had a strong sense of harmony, and even if Django and Raney was his main influences , I suppose that he was able to read music because his guitar language had something of the Bach perfection . Did everyone know if he was able to read music ?

    Sorry for my little English

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    I don't know about Thomas in particular, other than a couple of comments I see on the internet.

    But the careers of Errol Garner, Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow, Art Tatum, George Benson and lots more should make it clear that having very limited or no music-reading ability is not incompatible with having a strong sense of harmony, and being able to play very sophisticated jazz.

  4. #3
    You 're right . It is only one of my own curiosity .

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    I learned about Rene Thomas from tenor saxophonist JR Monterose. They were roommates during JR's European expat period. He told me that Rene used to tie off the neck with a handkerchief to mute the strings and play bugle calls with the pick while listening to sports on the radio. I assume that means that Rene could at least read basic rhythms out of an etude book. I don't know any more about Rene, but I've noticed that when some guitarists of the bebop generation said they're 'not readers', they meant they don't read up to the level of Chuck Wayne and Howard Roberts, not that they can't decipher staff notation at all.

    PK

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    most excellent appreciation/overview of rene thomas by french guitarist- noël akchoté

    PREPARED GUITAR: Angle(s) VIII Rene Thomas


    cheers

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    There's no way of telling if you go by Rene's albums as a leader, but he did a few sideman albums that probably required reading.
    One was John Lewis' "A Milanese Story", which was music from a film by the same name that Lewis wrote the film score. The music has a lot of non-improvised single-line guitar parts that would be much easier to perform if Lewis had written them out for Rene. I can't find the record in that mess of a closet I've got, but I think there's a string quartet on it that Rene plays lines with.

    Another album is "The United Nations of Jazz", an album from the early 60s that features jazz players from all different countries playing in a sextet that also involved playing arrangements which might have required some reading, because it's not just an album where they played standards and took solos on them.
    European players made their living playing in radio orchestras, and maybe Rene played in in a Belgian or French one, which would also require reading.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    There's no way of telling if you go by Rene's albums as a leader, but he did a few sideman albums that probably required reading.
    One was John Lewis' "A Milanese Story", which was music from a film by the same name that Lewis wrote the film score. The music has a lot of non-improvised single-line guitar parts that would be much easier to perform if Lewis had written them out for Rene. I can't find the record in that mess of a closet I've got, but I think there's a string quartet on it that Rene plays lines with.

    Another album is "The United Nations of Jazz", an album from the early 60s that features jazz players from all different countries playing in a sextet that also involved playing arrangements which might have required some reading, because it's not just an album where they played standards and took solos on them.
    European players made their living playing in radio orchestras, and maybe Rene played in in a Belgian or French one, which would also require reading.
    I have those 2 lps but for the life of me can't find the United Nations lp. Anyway Thomas plays very little on the arrangements, he's almost exclusively a soloist. The one part w strings is 3 or 4 easy lines Lewis could have just played for him.

  9. #8
    Ths I didn't know the Noell AKCHOTE Blog . I'm a devoted student of Rene THOMAS's music and NOEL couldn't find better words to describe the fine art of Renè . Just few guitar players was able to put on the guitar the level of energy and intensity in Moment's Notice such as John Coltrane did. At the same time few jazz guitar players were consciousness of the evolution that jazz music did in the 60 /70 as Rene did till his end .

  10. #9
    Ths Paulkogut , I really appriciate your words . It is so difficoult to find something about Rene Thomas.
    Monterose was another overlooked Saxophone player . I really like his unusual saxophone tone .
    What I mean is the way to feel the music of Rene , was so great that in such way he know the complex classical music structure even if didn't play classicl music.
    Jimmy Raney said that he was a devoted student of Bach and C.Parker . In Jimmy Raney music you hear an incredible amount of flux of ideas as in Rene Music .
    Maybe Rene was not able to reading well the music but he knew such as few the secrets of a complex structure . In few words a guitar genius .
    Maybe much important to me than knowing if was able in reading music or not , is to know if he listen to other kind of music other than jazz .
    It is well known that Coltrane and Raney listen to Bartok music . Yes they play jazz music but in some way you listen they consider in their music other musical influences .

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Another Rene Thomas website here, seems to be something of a work in progress though, not all the links do anything:

    http://thomasia.free.fr/accueil.php

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    A while ago I purchased Rene’s ‘Guitar Groove’ record as an amazon download, and it included all the tracks from that ‘United Notions’ record too. On the latter you get to hear Rene introducing himself in French (as I recall).

    United Notions - Wikipedia

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    A friend of mine got interested in jazz at the start of the 70s and was taken to see his first proper jazz gig at Ronnie Scotts, by another friend who was a jazz buff.

    What he actually saw there was Stan Getz with Rene Thomas, i.e. some of the live sessions which were recorded as the Getz ‘Dynasty’ record. Quite something for your first live jazz experience!

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    I'm certain this has been discussed in great detail previously but simply stated--if you're a musical genius it probably doesn't matter. However, 99.9% of Jazz musicians are not geniuses and learning by ear takes 2-3x as long to become competent versus formal training. And, then, what do you do if you get a job that requires reading charts--exactly as written? One can learn to speak a language without being able to read or write, but, for most, you will never reach total fulfillment.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    I have those 2 lps but for the life of me can't find the United Nations lp. Anyway Thomas plays very little on the arrangements, he's almost exclusively a soloist. The one part w strings is 3 or 4 easy lines Lewis could have just played for him.
    You're probably right, I haven't heard either of those records in a long time. In that Gary Burton autobiography we mentioned, Burton said the entire MJQ tried to play a piece by Gunther Schuller, but had such trouble reading the music, they had to call Burton in to play Bags' part, so Lewis was used to that type of thing.
    I don't know about Lewis' sight reading abilities either. Aaron Sachs told me a funny story about John Lewis.
    He played on the Lewis album "Little David's Fugue", and Aaron was practicing reading Bach pieces on the flute during a break.
    Lewis asked him what he was doing. Aaron told him, and Lewis' reply was something like, "Wow, I've never done anything like that! Maybe I should
    try doing something like that sometime!"
    Aaron couldn't believe it!

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    One of the best members of this forum (who was banned for some reason that wasn't clear to me), whom I've remained friends with, recently sent me an interview with Rene Thomas, where he clearly states that he couldn't read music.
    Rene said that he would get guys to play the lines they would want him to play, and he would copy them, or he'd ask them to let him have the music overnight, and he'd decipher it on his own at home.
    He also informed me of a recent album of some of Rene's previously unreleased stuff on Fresh Sound Records. The record is called, Remembering Rene Thomas".Rene Thomas - Remembering Rene Thomas (2-CD) - Blue Sounds

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    Well, there you have it! Can you link the interview?
    I'll be buying those CDs for sure, there's even a cut w/Jimmy Smith and Donald Bailey, hoo boy!


  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    I would love to hear this interview!

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero View Post
    ....learning by ear takes 2-3x as long to become competent versus formal training. And, then, what do you do if you get a job that requires reading charts--exactly as written?
    Generally people who can't read don't take those jobs.

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by belfagor View Post
    Rene Thomas is one of my favourite guitar player and one of the most overlooked guitar player ever. I know nearly every record he''s made . Someone said me that he was not able to read music . That sound a bit odd to me . It's true that django plays bach without being able to read music . But Rene had a strong sense of harmony, and even if Django and Raney was his main influences , I suppose that he was able to read music because his guitar language had something of the Bach perfection . Did everyone know if he was able to read music ?

    Sorry for my little English

    Sure, Django could play a Bach melody without reading music. Maybe even add a convincing second voice.


    Hearing a four voice fugue, and playing it back after a single listen? Not so much.




    I suspect many of the tales told in music, contain as much bullshit as what you read on the Internet today.

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    rene thomas was visually handicapped. he was probably familiar with notation but no sight reader.
    Last edited by djg; 01-20-2021 at 05:34 AM.

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Another Rene Thomas website here, seems to be something of a work in progress though, not all the links do anything:

    http://thomasia.free.fr/accueil.php
    it's been up for years. i've tried to contact the owner a few times but without sucess.

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    Interesting conversations. I would like to mention one last observation in a lifetime of playing music: there is not a greater group of instrumentalists, other than guitarists, who do not read music. This, of course, is not the case with Classical guitarists. The reason, for me, is that it is such a popular and accessible instrument to play reasonably well with limited formal training/knowledge. However, when we speak of someone like Renee, reading or not reading music would not, in any way, diminish the genius of his playing. He was a born musician and that cannot be taught from a book as several generations of schooled Jazzers with their lifeless and tired memorized solos can attest.
    Play live . . . Marinero